IIE Networker - Spring 2011 - (Page 29)

DIVERSIFYING STUDY ABROAD Diversity in International Education: The Time Is Now By William L. Gertz DIVERSITY IN INTERNATIONAL education is, of course, not a new theme for those of us involved in the field of study abroad. Over the years, there have been countless sessions at NAFSA regional and national conferences, numerous white papers and plenty of discussions about how to increase the number of underrepresented students participating in educational experiences abroad. It is no secret that despite the explosion in study abroad—which increased every year until the financial crisis of 2008—Hispanic and African-American students make up a disproportionately low number of U.S. students studying abroad. According to Open Doors 2010, Hispanic students account for 6 percent and African-American students 4.2 percent of the total. White students account for 80.5 percent of all U.S. students going abroad despite the fact that these students comprise only 63 percent of the U.S. higher education enrollment totals. Conventional wisdom says we can and should do better. With this in mind, the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS) recently organized a hands-on diversity workshop at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. About 100 study abroad advisors and others active in the field spent a day examining various solutions and creating a roadmap for increasing diversity. The workshop was organized by my own organization, AIFS, in cooperation with Diversity Abroad, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO), and the Institute of International Education (IIE), and was sponsored by the AIFS Foundation. It was clearly the most diverse group of participants I’ve worked with in my 30-plus years in the field. The advisors were organized into groups of 10, each with a discussion leader. Each group focused on a specific issue. These small group discussions were extremely animated and productive. The reports (available at diversityabroad. com and aifsabroad.com) include numerous recommendations that would almost certainly increase the number of minority students studying abroad if implemented on a campus-by-campus basis. It is, in effect, a best practices blueprint. These recommendations included: increasing partnerships with the private sector to fund scholarship opportunities; undertaking campus-wide assessments of diversity efforts; obtaining buy-in from senior administrative leaders; developing action plans; utilizing alumni more effectively; expanding outreach to parents, clubs, and associations; and fostering a collaboration between study abroad and career center offices. Participants also noted that study abroad office staff on campus should be more racially diverse. In addition, advisors need to make sure they support scholarship applicants all the way through the application process. Roundtable participants also recommended engagement with K–12 youth organizations, campus multicultural affairs offices and groups like Kiwanis and other fraternal organizations to provide potential sources of funding. The group also agreed that much more attention should be devoted to web marketing and social networking. The days of promoting through posters, print advertising and reference books are ending. Scholarship opportunities can be promoted more effectively through Facebook, Twitter, webinars and blogs. These recommendations are all on point, and if every study abroad office in the U.S. would implement even half of them, the number of minority students studying abroad would increase dramatically. Identifying the recommendations was the easy part; making them work at the myriad higher education institutions across the country is the hard part. Study abroad organizations like AIFS also have an important role to play. During the past few years, we have doubled our scholarships for minority students and have partnered with NAFEO, HACU, IIE, Diversity Abroad and a new organization, IERC Education Foundation, to increase awareness, promote numerous scholarship AIFS organized a hands-on diversity workshop at The National Press Club in Washington, DC, in September 2010, at which study abroad practitioners examined various solutions and created a roadmap for increasing diversity. programs and begin to promote joint educational programs abroad. We intend to expand our partnerships to more minorityserving organizations with an interest in study abroad. More partnerships mean a greater reach and more money flowing to the students who need it most. IES has done a particularly good job with its diversity efforts, which include sponsoring a think tank, hiring a diversity officer to engage more students, and working diligently to increase diversity in its programs. Two other areas worth pursuing are joint scholarship programs with minority-owned businesses and additional government funding. Government-funded Gilman scholarships, in particular, have played a major role in increasing diversity abroad, and more unique scholarship programs along these lines are greatly needed. Obviously there is much to be done, but if we stay focused on this issue and continue to develop innovative ideas, eventually we will move the needle forward. The repercussions of inaction are too great. Twenty years ago, I was asked by our College Division Board of Advisors to include more pictures of Black and Hispanic students in our catalogs. I said I would do this as soon as they sent us more minority students. ■ I am still waiting. William L. Gertz is President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS). 29 http://www.aifsabroad.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2011

IIE Networker - Spring 2011
A Message from Allan E. Goodman
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series
2011 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards: Innovation in International Education
100,000 Strong: Building Strategic Trust in U.S.-China Relations through Education
Experiencing Difference: The Meaning of Globalization at a Diverse Institution
Diversity in International Education: The Time Is Now
Diversity in Education Abroad: A Plan for Our Campuses
Best Practices for Diversifying Study Abroad on Your Campus
The Ethnorelative Engineer: Culturally Immersive Study Abroad Programs for Engineering Students
NanoJapan: Preparing Globally Savvy Researchers
Minority Faculty: The Key to Diversifying Study Abroad
Best Practices for When Diversity Is Commonplace
Advertisers’ Index
IIE Program Profile

IIE Networker - Spring 2011