Faculty-Led Programs Bring Webster Students Around the Globe During Spring Break

A group from Webster smiles for a photo while standing next to a pair of binoculars on the roof of the Duomo, overlooking the landscape of Florence.Webster students and staff pose for a photo at the top of the Duomo in Florence, Italy, as part of a recent short-term, faculty-led program.

Most college students spend their spring breaks traveling, partying or just relaxing.  

This past spring break, 44 Webster University students chose the option of traveling – but with the intention of furthering their educational pursuits. Through Webster’s short-term, faculty-led study abroad programs, students can learn about a subject they are interested in while immersed in another culture.  
Faculty-led programs are a great way for students to experience life in another culture without committing to more than two weeks abroad. This year’s programs took students to the tech-savvy landscapes of Tokyo, the historical heart of Florence and the biodiversity-rich environments of the Galápagos Islands.

Exploring Game Design in Japan 

Led by Professor Matthew Burton, the Mobile Game Design in Japan program offered students a unique blend of cultural immersion and industry insight. The week-long journey started with a cultural orientation in Tokyo, where students learned local customs and etiquette to help navigate their stay. 

A student takes a mirror photo in a room with lucious greenery and flowers draping from the walls and ceiling.Students visit the Floating Flower Garden in Tokyo.

The itinerary was packed with guest lectures from renowned game development industry professionals, interactive workshops and seminars that introduced students to cutting-edge technologies and trends in the gaming industry. A special highlight was a collaborative session with students at our partner university, JF Oberlin University in Japan, where Webster students gained hands-on experience designing mobile games in an international setting. Prior to departure, Webster game design students translated a game into Japanese, which the partner university students play-tested to provide feedback.

Students and Burton stand for a large group photo on the roof of a building on a sunny in Japan.Webster University students and JF Oberlin University students with Professor Matthew Burton.

Cultural excursions, including a tour of historic landmarks and a deep dive into Tokyo’s vibrant pop culture in Akihabara, provided broader context to the students about Japan’s influence on the global entertainment and technology sectors. The group visited the historic Sensoji Temple and the Katana Sword Museum, gaining insights into Japan's cultural heritage and craftsmanship. Visits to the Toei Animation Museum and the National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation offered a glimpse into future technological advancements, enriching their learning experience and highlighting the global influence of Japanese gaming and animation. 

A group of people walk under a large torii gate on a pathway in a wooded area in Japan.Students walk underneath a torii gate during an excursion.

Art and History Collide in Florence 

Art history students had the chance to live and breathe the Renaissance under the guidance of Professor Ryan Gregg in the Florence in the Renaissance program. Their academic journey was a chronological exploration of art, architecture and the influential families of Florence. The trip included in-depth visits to iconic locations such as the Uffizi Gallery, Palazzo Vecchio, San Marco, Palazzo Pitti, Boboli Gardens, Florence Cathedral and the Accademia to see the David.

Four Webster students smile for a photo with the landscape of Florence behind them.Webster students pose for a photo at the top of the Florence Cathedral.

An unforgettable experience was making pasta in a traditional Tuscan villa—combining cultural education with culinary delight against the backdrop of a Florentine sunset. The program not only enriched students’ understanding of Renaissance art but also offered a personal connection to the city and its historical treasures.

A group of students wearing aprons line at a long table while under a small pavilion outdoors.A group of Webster students prepare to make pasta at a villa in the hills south of Florence.

Evolutionary Biology in the Galápagos Islands 

Biological Sciences students joined Professor Nicole Miller-Struttmann in the Galápagos Islands for the Evolution Lab program. This destination, pivotal in Charles Darwin’s development of evolutionary theory, provided students with a living classroom where they could observe evolutionary processes in real-time. 

Partnering with local experts and Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ), Webster students participated in field research, contributing to ongoing studies of the islands’ unique fauna. Activities included snorkeling to study marine biodiversity, engaging with local conservationists and collaborative sessions with faculty from the USFQ. Each day brought new insights into the challenges of preserving a fragile ecosystem while giving students a rare, hands-on education in evolutionary biology. 

A stunning coastline in The Galapagos Islands with greenery and rock formations which meets a circular waterfront shoreline.Photo taken by a student from The Galapagos Islands.

Short-term, faculty-led spring break programs are part of Webster University’s ongoing commitment to providing its students with global, experiential learning opportunities that prepare them for successful careers and responsible citizenship in a global community. As these travelers returned, they brought with them not just academic credits, but stories, experiences and a broader view of the world that can only be gained through such immersive educational journeys. 
Webster will be offering additional short-term, faculty-led programs during fall break 2024, including a Human Rights in Washington, D.C., course and a Mobile Game Design and Culture in Quebec course. 

Learn more about offerings and study abroad scholarships by visiting the Office of Study Abroad webpage or by contacting the office directly.

Webster faculty who are interested curating their own short-term, faculty-led programs or teaching abroad are encouraged to learn more via Sharepoint or contact Global Program Development. Applications for fall 2025 faculty-led programs will open in August 2024.

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