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Diversity Abroad Conference to Focus on Inclusive Excellence in Global Education

More than 700 senior international administrators, student affairs professionals, study abroad office staff, faculty and more will gather in Boston for Diversity Abroad’s 7th Annual Conference this March.

Campus representatives network during a past Diversity Abroad Annual Conference.Campus representatives network during a past Diversity Abroad Annual Conference.

This year’s conference – along with the Global Student Leadership Summit and the Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Global Education Summit – will be a comprehensive forum to advance policies and practices that promote access, diversity, equity and inclusion in global education.

Education stakeholders from across the country will share and learn how to build inclusive global education for underrepresented students through concurrent and deep dive sessions, “Big Idea Talks” and Diversity Abroad’s “Access, Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity” (AIDE) Roadmap.

“The main thrust of the conference is to provide participants with a rich array of sessions that they can easily take back and use on their campus” regardless of if their institution is a historically Black college or university (HBCU), a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) or a small, private college, said Dr. Eduardo Contreras Jr., conference chair, assistant provost for International Education, Diversity, and Inclusion and the director of Studies Abroad at the University of Portland.

Conference organizers expect more than 700 global education stakeholders, including student leaders, employers and graduate program officials, to attend the conference this year. There will be sessions discussing intentionality in culturally responsive advising, how to build alliances with different campus partners to break down barriers for students, equity in the curriculum, study abroad recruitment and intersectional identities, among other topics.

Contreras said that campus representatives will also work with Diversity Abroad’s “Access, Inclusion, Diversity, & Equity” (AIDE) Roadmap, which is a self-assessment tool institutions can use to develop and measure DEI practices, policies and procedures that move their campus towards more inclusive internationalization.

“It is one of these tools that we’ve seen really help study abroad offices think about what does inclusive mean in their context because it may look different campus to campus, study abroad office to study abroad office, state to state,” said Wagaye Johannes, director of operations and organizational development at Diversity Abroad.

Access and support are two key components in much of Diversity Abroad’s work as campuses increasingly see the value of providing underrepresented students with international education experiences. Conference-goers will engage in conversations about how to support students on the education abroad continuum, Johannes added.

“The experience of an African-American student in Italy is going to be different from a Caucasian woman in Italy,” she said. “How do we prepare that student, prepare the on-site staff, really to set expectations? It’s not that we’re going to change Italy, but it’s really to understand what the student might experience that may be different from that historical image of a Caucasian woman studying abroad.”

Attendees at the Diversity Abroad conference.Attendees at the Diversity Abroad conference.

Roughly 50 to 100 students who attend a Diversity Abroad member institution and who are back in the U.S. from their experience abroad will participate in the Global Student Leadership Summit. The summit will help them unpack their experience, give them an opportunity to network with peers and professionals and, importantly, help them articulate why their study abroad experience was so transformative and how they feel they can then move forward in whatever professional field they are choosing, Johannes said.

In addition, the 4th Annual MSI Global Education Summit during the conference will address the needs of MSIs as they work to internationalize their campus and support underrepresented students through study abroad.

“The needs of MSIs are different from [predominantly White institutions] and other institutions,” Johannes said. “At our conference … [leaders will] continue to unpack funding opportunities because that is certainly a struggle or a challenge” for most students.

Another component of the annual conference will be the third annual Innovation Competition sponsored by CAPA: The Global Education Network, as well as the second annual Chief Diversity Officer/Senior International Officer Strategic Leadership Forum.

The forum will explore opportunities for these two campus leaders to collaborate on initiatives around internationalizing their institution’s curriculum, promoting equitable access to education abroad, diversifying staff and faculty and increasing students, faculty and staff members’ sense of belonging, in addition to other priorities.

A closing plenary session will encourage attendees to intentionally think about how they will implement what they come away with from the conference.

“We’ll have a few people who set the groundwork to say, ‘You’ve had all these great sessions, now let’s sit down and do action planning breakouts,’” Contreras said.

Facilitators will work with breakout groups consisting of study abroad providers, small to midsize institutions, midsize to large institutions and minority-serving institutions, community colleges and secondary institutions to assist leaders with their institutional action planning.

“The main takeaways are really helping professionals get a better understanding that the work of equity and inclusion abroad is … not an add-on,” Contreras said, adding that working towards inclusive excellence in global education has to be a “grassroots” effort all the way to senior administrative leadership.

Recipients of this year’s Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) and Global Student Leadership Awards will be recognized during the conference’s Awards Gala and Dinner.

“Through the EDIIE Awards, Diversity Abroad recognizes the institutions, organizations and individuals whose innovative work supports equitable access to the benefits of global education that improve student academic success, interpersonal growth and career readiness,” said Andrew Gordon, CEO and founder of Diversity Abroad. “We congratulate the 2019 EDIIE Award recipients for their work to democratize global education and ultimately unlock the doors of opportunity for the students they serve.”

The 7th Annual Diversity Abroad Conference will be hosted at Emerson College from March 2-5, 2019. Online registration closes on February 22.

Tiffany Pennamon can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanypennamon.

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