An Interprofessional, Intercultural, Immersive Short-Term Study Abroad Program: Public Health and Service Systems in Rome

  • Sara A. McComb Purdue University
  • Lorenzo Fedele Sapienza Università di Roma
  • Patrick A. Brunese Purdue University
  • Vicki L. Simpson Purdue University
Keywords: Intercultural, Immersion, Public health, Rome, Italy, Study abroad, Short-term study abroad


The purpose of this paper is to describe a short term study abroad program that exposes engineering and nursing undergraduate students from the United States and Italy to an intercultural and interprofessional immersion experience . Faculty fr om Purdue University and Sapienza Università di Roma collaborated to design a technical program that demonstrates the complementary nature of engineering and public health in the service sector, with Rome as an integral component of the program. S pecifically, the intersection of topics including systems, reliability, process flow, maintenance management, and public health are covered through online lectures, in class activities and case study discussions, field experiences, and assessments. Here in, administrat ive issues such as student recruitment, selection, and preparation are elucidated. Additionally, the pedagogical approach used to ensure constructive alignment among the program goals, the intended learning outcomes, and the teaching and learning activitie s is described. Finally, examples of learning outcomes resulting from this alignment are provided.


Download data is not yet available.


Ackoff, R. L. (1971). Towards a system of systems concepts. Management Science, 17(11), 667-671.

Allen, T. T. (2010). Introduction to engineering statistics and lean sigma (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Springer.

Anderson, L. W., & Krathwohl, D. R. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives. New York, NY: Addison Wesley Longman.

Anderson, P. H., Lawton, L., Rexeisen, R. J., & Hubbard, A. C. (2006). Short-term study abroad and intercultural sensitivity: A pilot study. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 30, 457-469. doi: 10.1016/j.ijintrel.2005.10.004

Bahill, A. T., & Dean, F. F. (2009). What is systems engineering? A consensus of senior system engineers. Retrieved from

Biggs, J., & Collis, K. (1982). Evaluating the quality of learning: The solo taxonomy. New York, NY: Academic Press.

Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university (4th ed.). Berkshire, UK: Open University Press.

Bitner, M. J. (1992). Servicescapes: The impact of physical surroundings on customers and employees. Journal of Marketing, 56, 57-71.

Blanchard, B. S., & Fabrycky, W. J. (2011). Systems engineering and analysis (5th ed.). Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Browning, D., & Castelfranco, S. (Producers). (2014, October 19). 60 minutes: Saving history, [Television broadcast]. New York, NY: Central Broadcasting Service. Retrieved from

Carlson, J. S., & Widaman, K. F. (1988). The effects of study abroad during college on attitudes toward other cultures. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 12, 1-17. doi: 10.1016/0147-1767(88)90003-X

Cigolini, R. D., Deshmukh, A. V., Fedele, L., & McComb, S. A. (2009). Recent advances in maintenance and infrastructure management. London, UK: Springer-Verlag.

Clark, K. B., & Wheelwright, S. C. (1993). Managing new product and process development. New York, NY: The Free Press.

Daniel, S. J., Xie, F., Kedia, B. L., & Lodge, W. (2014, April 11-13). 2014 US business needs for employees with international expertise. Paper presented at the Internationalization of US Education in the 21st Century: The Future of International and Foreign Language Studies, A Research Conference on National Needs and Policy Implications, Williamsburg, VA. Available at

Day, M. (2015, May 17). Italy’s cultural heritage at risk amid neglect and bad management – with private sponsors brought in to help protect iconic landmarks. Independent. Retrieved from

Dwyer, M. M. (2004). More is better: The impact of study abroad program duration. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10, 151-163.

de Camp, L. S. (1993). The ancient engineers. New York, NY: Barnes and Noble.

Earnest, G. S., Reed, L. D., Conover, D., Estill, C., Gjessing, C., Gressel, M., . . . & Sheehy, J. (2006). Engineering and public health at CDC. MMWR Supplements, 55(2), 10-13.

Ebeling, C. E. (1997). An introduction to reliability and maintainability engineering. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.

Engle, L., & Engle, J. (2004). Assessing language acquisition and intercultural sensitivity development in relation to study abroad program design. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 10, 219-236.

Fahnestock, O., McComb, S. A., Deshmukh, A. V., & Fedele, L. (2013, May 18-22). Improving the US healthcare system: Lessons from Italy. Proceedings of the 2013 Industrial and Systems Engineering Research Conference, San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Fallahi, C. R. (2008). Redesign of a life span development course using Fink’s taxonomy. Teaching of Psychology, 35, 169-175.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating significant learning experiences, revised and updated. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Fitzsimmons, J. A., & Fitzsimmons, M. J. (2010). Service management: Operations, strategy, and information technology (7th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill/Irwin.

Health Resources and Service Administration. (2012). Nursing. Retrieved from

Institute of International Education. (2007, 2017). [Tabular summary data for 2006 and 2016, respectively]. Fast Facts. Retrieved from

Institute of Medicine. (2001). Crossing the quality chasm: A new health system for the 21st century. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

International Programs Office. (2016).

Karagory, P., & McComb, S. (2014). Measuring the vital signs of the healthcare system with the first clinical experience: Sophomore nursing students rise to the challenge. Journal of Nursing Education, 53(9), S97-S100.

Karr, T. (2011, September). Determining what healthcare should be. Industrial Engineer, 43(9), 45-48.

Keller L. (2014, September). Leaning a little too far. Industrial Engineer, 46(9), 41-46.

Kennedy, D. K., Vozdolska, R. R., & McComb, S. A. (2010). Team decision making in computer-supported cooperative work: How initial computer-mediated or face-to-face meetings set the stage for later outcomes. Decision Sciences, 41(4), 933-954.

Kitsantas, A. (2004). Studying abroad: The role of college students’ goals on the development of cross-cultural skills and global understanding. College Student Journal, 38(3): 441-452.

Kitsantas, A., & Meyers, J. (2002). Studying abroad: Does it enhance college student cross-cultural awareness? Educational Resources Information Center. Retrieved from

Kuh, G. K., & Kauffman, N. F. (1984). The impact of study abroad on personal development of college students. Retrieved from

Lehto, M., & Landry, S. (2012). Introduction to human factors and ergonomics for engineers. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

Lewis, R. D. (2005). When cultures collide: Leading across cultures: A new major edition of the global guide (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Nicholas Brealey International.

Little, J. D. C. (1961). A proof for the queuing formula: L = λW. Operations Research, 9(3), 383-387.

Lumkes Jr., J. H., Hallett, S., & Vallade, L. (2012). Hearing versus experiencing: The impact of a short-term study abroad experience in China on students perceptions regarding globalization and cultural awareness. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 36, 151-159. doi:10.1016/j.ijintrel.2011.12.004

Maani, K. E., & Cavana, R. Y. (2000). Systems thinking and modelling: Understanding change and complexity. Auckland, New Zealand: Pearson Education New Zealand Limited.

Mabry, P., Olster, D., Morgan, G., & Abrams, D. (2008). Interdisciplinarity and systems science to improve population health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 35(2S), S211-S224.

Malcom, S. M. (2008). The human face of engineering. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(3), 237-238.

McComb, S. A., & Kirkpatrick, J. M. (2017). Infusing systems and quality improvement throughout an undergraduate nursing curriculum. Journal of Nursing Education 56(12):752-757. doi: 10.3928/01484834-20171120-10.

Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Mikk, B. K., Cohen, A. D., & Paige, R. M. (2004). Maximizing study abroad: An instructional guide to strategies for language and culture learning and use. Retrieved from

Miller, D. (Ed). (2005). Going lean in healthcare [White paper]. IHI Innovation Series, Cambridge, MA: Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Retrieved from

Molinsky, A. L., Davenport, T. H., Iyer, B., & Davidson, C. (2018, January/February). Three skills every 21st century manager needs. Harvard Business Review, 139-143.

National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine. (2005). Reid P., Compton W. D., Grossman J., & Fanjiang G. (Eds.), Building a better delivery system: A new engineering/health care partnership, committee on engineering and the health care system. Washington DC: National Academy Press.

O’Connor, P. D. T., & Kleyner, A. (2012). Practical reliability engineering (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Parkinson, A. (2007). Engineering study abroad programs: Formats, challenges, best practices. Online Journal for Global Engineering Education 2(2): Article 2. Retrieved from

PriceWaterhouseCoopers. (2009). Il valore dell’arte: Una prospettiva economico-finanziaria. Retrieved from

Romanos, A. (2002). Historic cities in the grip of tourist development: Lessons from a cross-temporal study in Mykonos [Case study]. Retrieved from

Simpson, V., McComb, S., & Kirkpatrick, J. (2017). Enhancing critical thinking via a clinical scholars approach. Journal of Nursing Education 56(11): 679-682. doi: 10.3928/01484834-20171020-08

Spear, S. J. (2005). Fixing health care from the inside, today. Harvard Business Review, 83(9), 78.

The Forum on Education Abroad (2015). Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad (5th ed.). Carlisle, PA: The Forum on Education Abroad. Retrieved from

Tompkins, J. A., White, J. A., Bozer, Y. A., & Tanchoco, J. M. A. (2010). Facilities planning (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

How to Cite
McComb, S. A., Fedele, L., Brunese, P. A., & Simpson, V. L. (2019). An Interprofessional, Intercultural, Immersive Short-Term Study Abroad Program: Public Health and Service Systems in Rome. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 31(1), 148-168.