MILSA (Mentoring intercultural Learning Through Study Abroad)

MILSA is an innovative comprehensive academic mentoring program that leads the way in the field of facilitation of students’ intercultural learning. From 2016-2017, MILSA was developed by the international project team of Ellen Krause and Annie Cottier (University of Bern, Switzerland) and Susan Oguro (University of Technology Sydney, Australia), and funded by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland. Designed to maximise students’ intercultural learning gained through Study Abroad, MILSA makes use of pre-departure and post-sojourn workshops, and also of communication technologies, prompted blog contributions and active reflections during students’ time abroad. These measures ensure that MILSA mentees receive comprehensive support throughout their study abroad experience and are also supported to apply these intercultural skills on return and develop critical ways of thinking about their own society and values. In this way, critical understandings of the host country’s culture(s) developed, but also that of the home country.

Research output

2016:   International international colloquium Facilitating students’ intercultural learning through study abroad programs at the University of Bern (MILSA Colloquium Programme).

2017:   Poster presentation at the European Association of International Education (EAIE) conference (Poster EAIE).

2018:   Jackson, Jane, and Susan Oguro, eds. Intercultural Interventions in Study Abroad. Internationalization in Higher Education Series. London and New York: Routledge.

2018:   The MILSA program won the EAIE's Bo Gregersen Award for Best Practice.

2020:  Oguro, Susan, and Annie Cottier. 'The complex challenge of delivering a university-wide intercultural mentoring program for study abroad', in Martin Howard (ed.), Study abroad and the second language learner: expectations, experiences and development, Bloomsbury, in print. 

Research team

Associate Professor Susan Oguro, PhD, Scientific Director

Susan Oguro is currently Director, Internationalisation in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia.  As an academic in the field of international studies, she has taught and coordinated student mobility programs for the past 15 years, including close collaboration with partners in Switzerland and Germany.  Susan has published widely in the fields of intercultural, study abroad and languages education.

Dr. Annie Cottier, Program Manager

Annie Cottier teaches the mentoring program Mentoring Intercultural Learning through Study Abroad (MILSA) to outbound students at the University of Bern. Annie’s background combines teaching, researching and publishing in the field of Cultural Studies and Literatures in English with her profound interest in intercultural learning and her long-standing practical experience in student mobility.

Colloquium 2016

Colloquium on facilitating students’ intercultural learning through study abroad programs

Organised by the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Bern, Switzerland

Thursday, April 14 and Friday, April 15, 2016

In collaboration with the University of Technology Sydney and the financial support of Stiftung Mercator Schweiz, the University of Bern launched a project which aims to facilitate students’ intercultural learning through study abroad. In order to design and develop MILSA (mentoring intercultural learning through study abroad), experts including Prof. Jane Jackson from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Prof. Fred Dervin from the University of Helsinki came to Bern on April 14 and 15, 2016, to participate in an international colloquium.