With over 450 proponents of inclusive excellence in international education present, this year’s Fourth Annual Diversity Abroad Conference was larger than ever and continues to constitute the only gathering of individuals and organizations solely focused on increasing access and diversity in global education.
“Diversity Abroad conference continues to be the most provocative conference content in the field. I continue to be inspired by the innovative work my colleagues are doing.” -- Conference Attendee
The conference theme, “From Outreach to Support: Navigating Expansion and Inclusion,” provided an inspiring launching point for the lively and engaged discussions that took place at the three-day event. The conference featured dozens of workshops, sessions, and networking opportunities for attendees to build new strategies for creating equitable access and services to historically underrepresented groups of students in education abroad, a vital component of a comprehensive, 21st-century education.
This year, students played a more active role in the conference. The second-annual Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) brought together almost 50 students and study-abroad alumni to network and broach issues students like themselves faced during the study abroad process, and apply their experiences to devise recommendations for the field. At the closing plenary, the students presented these recommendations to the conference attendees in an interactive question & answer format. According to one participant, “Their (the students) perspectives were invaluable and drove home the intentions of the conference.”
At the outset of the conference, Diversity Abroad President, Andrew Gordon motivated attendees to actualize change and disrupt the status quo in today’s global education arena:
“...so for us to reach that point of equitable access where our students from all backgrounds see the importance of being globally competent, for us to get to reach the point where we’re providing inclusive support & service for all students interested in global programs, for us to reach these points requires us to change how we think about who goes abroad and who doesn’t, it requires us to change how we interact with a more diverse populations of students and collaborate with partners on and off campus, it requires us to change how we as a field approach global education.”
Empowering Diverse Student Leaders
The second-annual Global Student Leadership Summit (GSLS) brought close to 50 young leaders together to reflect on their international experiences, explore future career and study opportunities, and to provide a student perspective during many of the all-conference plenaries.
The three-day conference, which ran parallel to the Diversity Abroad Conference, included students from more than 27 institutions and study abroad programs. With experiences studying abroad in a range of destinations, these students were able to apply their talents during the case challenge to provide recommendations for creating more inclusive access to international opportunities, particularly for historically underrepresented student populations.
Identity can play a key role in a study abroad experience— to gain more insight on this, five students presented on how intersectionality framed their time abroad. According to one of the Summit participants, "There's a distinct difference between acknowledging that someone exists and in celebrating their differences."
Combined with several workshops designed specifically for students to “unpack” their experiences abroad and a keynote address delivered by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Associate Director, Sundaa Bridgett-Jones, the GSLS proved an engaging networking and learning experience for the young leaders who took part, as well as the professionals they worked with. Many students left the summit eager for more opportunities to share their experiences and to encourage other students to study abroad. One student noted, “I plan to use the information I gained, as well as my own experience abroad, to encourage other students to consider study abroad; through my campus and through other outlets.”
Read more about what was discussed, learned, and shared at the GSLS here.
Minority Serving Institutions Play Key Role in National Efforts to Globalize Education
New to this year’s Diversity Abroad pre-conference schedule, the Inaugural Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Summit, welcomed more than 75 MSI faculty, administrators, and allies to exchange best practices for providing students at these institutions access to first-class global education opportunities.
Representing more than 40 distinct institutions and organizations from across the country, the professionals engaged in a full day of workshops, networking opportunities, and think tank sessions with the shared goal of building capacity among MSI’s to engage students in meaningful global education experiences at their institutions.
Dr. Michael Lomax, the distinguished president and CEO of UNCF, delivered a moving keynote address at the summit. As the head of the nation’s largest provider of scholarships and other educational services to African American students, Dr. Lomax was able to lend his perspective on the importance of global education for all those in attendance.
What’s next? This summer, Diversity Abroad will publish a summary of the key findings from the Inaugural MSI Summit and recommendations for how to move forward.
Join us in 2017 as we celebrate 10 years of Diversity Abroad at the 5th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference in Minneapolis, MN.
Contributed by: Carla Sinclair, Communications Intern at Diversity Abroad