Black Hills State University continues to strengthen its global presence through its partnership with the College of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, one of 19 partnership BHSU has with universities in 10 countries. The partnership with the University of Ljubljana creates opportunities for student and faculty exchange, as well as research collaboration.

Black Hills State University continues to strengthen its global presence through a partnership with the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, a central-European country that has already resulted in several successful student and faculty exchanges

In 2012, BHSU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the College of Social Sciences at the University of Ljubljana. This partnership established opportunities for student and faculty exchange, as well as research collaboration.

Study abroad often leads to higher graduation rates, better GPAs, and better career placement for students, according to Dr. Katherine Wildman, director of International Relations and Global Engagement at BHSU.

“Study abroad is a high impact activity that makes use of the full BHSU experience. You gain a diverse group of friends, you challenge your ideas, and you become more confident in yourself and your ability to navigate places that are different,” says Wildman.

Four students have taken advantage of this partnership already, one from BHSU and three from Slovenia.

Karin Humar, born and raised in Slovenia, studied at the University of Ljubljana for a year before considering international studies.

“I’ve followed my inner voice telling me to try new things—to go for it—even if I had no idea where it would take me,” says Humar. “This same voice urged me in my decision to study abroad.”

Humar traveled to Spearfish as an exchange student, and soon realized she wanted to complete her degree at BHSU.

“I knew in less than two months of my exchange semester that I wanted to stay and complete my degree at BHSU,” Humar shares. “There are so many opportunities for students to get involved, to pursue and explore their passions, and to do what they never thought they could.”

In spring 2016, Humar earned a Bachelor’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing, became the first BHSU international student to graduate with honors, and delivered the valedictorian address.

The partnership with the University of Ljubljana has also lead to a faculty exchange and the launch of a joint-research project comparing recent demographic changes in South Dakota and Slovenia’s rural areas.

“We are evaluating rural South Dakota communities with rural Slovenian communities’ youth out-migration. We will compare how these international communities are responding, what they are doing to sustain their populations and to become more resilient to further out-migration,” says Dr. Trenton Ellis, assistant professor of human services at BHSU.

In August of 2016 Dr. Miro Haček and Dr. Simona Kukovic, faculty from the College of Behavioral Sciences at the University of Ljubljana, visited and toured BHSU campus. During their visit, they delivered a guest lecture on the history of political economy in Slovenia.

“It was an opportunity to introduce BHSU students to something they otherwise wouldn’t have heard about and probably wouldn’t have investigated themselves,” says Ellis.

In April of 2017, Ellis was invited to travel to Slovenia. Amidst the thick forests, vast mountains, and clear rivers of Slovenia, Ellis arrived in Ljubljana, the nation’s capital city and home to the University of Ljubljana.

“I gave lectures to an International Masters of Comparative Development Program. Students were from Ethiopia, Somalia, Canada, England, Kajerkistan—all over the world,” Ellis says, recalling his experience. “Ljubljana is a very accessible, laid back community. It’s a big-small town. You can take a train or bus anywhere—Austria, Italy, the Adriatic Sea. If I were an undergrad, looking to study abroad, University of Ljubljana would be a place I would look at very seriously.”

Wildman says that BHSU is looking for ways to grow their relationship with the University of Ljubljana, hoping to partner with other colleges within the University or expand their agreement to the University as a whole.

“We start to create a global campus by allowing people to have diverse experiences and allowing those experiences to come back into the classroom, through students, through faculty, through research projects,” Wildman says. “Our partnership with University of Ljubljana is an integral part of that.”

Wildman says that students studying abroad at one of 19 BHSU partnership universities are able to pay BHSU tuition, applying the same scholarships and financial aid they would at BHSU.

BHSU has partnerships with 19 different universities in 10 countries: Botswana, China, France, Germany, Lithuania, Mongolia, Philippines, Slovenia, South Korea, and Spain. BHSU continues to explore new ways to connect its students and faculty with other great minds abroad.