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Amplifying Voices: Moving From Rhetoric to Systemic Change | 2020 Conference Recap

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, August 11, 2020

8th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference: Amplifying Voices: Moving From Rhetoric to Systemic Change


The 8th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference challenged and inspired over 650+ professionals from around the world to continue our commitment towards building a more inclusive and equitable global education sector. More than 60 sessions, workshops, and poster presentations explored the theme: Amplifying Voices: Moving From Rhetoric to Systemic Change and were facilitated by 155+ presenters representing over 100 different institutions/organizations. The conference also featured a virtual Exhibit Hall with programs and resources on international education.

Sessions and discussions during the conference ranged from how to make diversity, equity, and inclusion central to the work of the institution/organization, breaking down silos on campus to adapting to the realities of virtual exchange, supporting domestic and international students during these uncertain times, and creating an inclusive workplace culture in addition to wellness and self care. Throughout the week, attendees also had the opportunity to network, collaborate, and connect through our Lagniappe Chats. Based around themes such as Racially/Ethnically Diverse, Provider Organizations, and LGBTQI+, these were an open space for dialogue and discussion.  



Diversity Abroad’s CEO and Founder, Andrew Gordon, welcomed everyone to the conference and highlighted the changed circumstances of the conference as well as the challenges and opportunities facing the field of global education today. 

Diversity Abroad’s 4th annual Innovation Competition sponsored by CAPA The Global Education Network, provided an exciting close to the conference opening program with five presentations detailing creative ideas that advance diversity and inclusive excellence in global education. Conference attendees had the chance to vote in order to determine the winner. Kevin Graham’s project with UC San Diego, Domestic Exchange: Creating Global Experiences for Undocumented/DACA Students won the competition and $5000. Lavar Thomas, co-founder of Leaders of the Free World (LFW) received $3500 for second place, and Charis Tucker’s STAMPED—the Study Abroad Podcast received third place with a $1500 prize. Read more about the winners here.

Tuesday kicked off with Deep Dive Concurrent Sessions, a chance for attendees to explore topics such as resources surrounding gender identity abroad and making publishing accessible more in-depth. Like all concurrent sessions during the virtual conference, after a pre-recorded presentation attendees joined a live Q&A with the presenters. The mid-day plenary session featured New York Times bestselling author Dr. Ibram X. Kendi to explore the concept of antiracism in a global education context. Dr. Tia Brown McNair, Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Student Success of the Association of American Colleges & Universities was the plenary speaker on Wednesday. She challenged the audience to “walk the talk” and offered insights from her work with the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) Campus Centers. Both plenary speakers made the point that antiracism and equity work begins with examining our own journeys first before we can address structural changes.  



For the third year, Diversity Abroad was pleased to have the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announce the 2018-2019 Benjamin A Gilman International Scholarship Top Producing and Top Growth Institutions at the conference. The announcement was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from several of these institutions on their current work and initiatives. 

On Thursday, the winners and finalists of the Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) and Global Student Leadership Awards were honored and their important contributions to advancing equity, diversity, and access within global education highlighted. This day closed with a nod to New Orleans - where the 8th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference was originally supposed to take place in March 2020 - with a live streamed performance by Big Sam’s Funky Nation from New Orleans. 

Friday kicked off with Critical Issues Sessions and the Poster Community, which had 14 innovative poster sessions featuring solutions to international education programming. The day ended with closing remarks from Andrew Gordon, who challenged attendees to innovate to make the strides necessary to make the sector truly equitable with respect to the students and to the professionals who call the field home. He was followed by the entire Diversity Abroad team who reflected on what the conference meant to them and thanked the conference attendees and Diversity Abroad community at large for all their work.



The Conference closed with the inaugural Think Forward Summit on the topic of Systemic Racism & the Field of Global Education. This 2-day event provided an opportunity for attendees to critically examine our responsibility as global educators to undo systemic racism within education abroad, international student and scholar services, global engagement at home and the cultures of our workplaces. 

Tags:  Diversity Abroad Conference 

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