The Center will work through three focus areas – Program and Partnerships, Global Learning and Access for Underrepresented Communities – to address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and provide more targeted funding for international education opportunities across the board.
Speaking exclusively with The PIE at The PIE Live Europe conference, Courtney Temple, IIE’s executive VP and chief administrative officer, said the Center’s work would give IIE the opportunity to “be a convenor, and have specific movement in access and equity”.
“We wanted to create an umbrella where we could have more focus on measuring our progress,” Temple said.
“We’ve had programs before, like the one with Dickinson College – and other projects – but we said if we could centralise this under a centre and fund it we’ll be able to better make an impact.”
Under the first focus area, the Center currently lists its partnership with Dickinson College, which initially started in 2020. More recent initiatives together will now come under the umbrella of the program and partnership arm, Temple explained.
“They have a very high percentage of individuals that do international exchange – the partnership was always there, but what we wanted to do was take it a little bit further with the expertise that they have and that IIE has globally.
“We wanted to create an umbrella where we could have more focus”
“We are jointly presenting a workshop that appeals to diversity, equity and inclusion and access in higher education for the global lens,” she explained.
The workshop focuses specifically on intersectionality for higher ed professionals, with experts from IIE’s and Dickinson’s global network facilitating and contributing.
“If we can educate the individuals that are impacting international exchange, then we are actually opening access because what they then take away from that course manifests itself in the programming that they create.”
In addition, IIE’s American Passport Project – aiming to grant 10,000 passports over the course of the next ten years to students who may not ordinarily have access to study abroad – will also come under the Center’s umbrella.
Temple, who also spoke at the PIE Live on a panel discussing diversity, equity and inclusion, explained to delegates that the cost of a US passport, which costs $165, can “be prohibitive”.
The passports are officially awarded by IIE’s partner universities, who submit first year undergraduates who are eligible, such as those who are in a socioeconomic gap. IIE funds this program and liaises with the partner universities on who is chosen each time.
At least 40 will be selected in each cycle.
“A passport is the first thing that opens up their world to the possibility of study abroad so we’re starting at the front of the funnel because you’ve got to get individuals in play before you can really make change across the board,” Temple said.
While all three of the arms of the Center are interconnected, the Global Learning section will be mostly research-based for the time being, specifically focusing, Temple told The PIE, on language acquisition.
The Center will focus on research into language acquisition as a barrier to global learning, study abroad and even as a barrier to future employability across the board.
“A passport is the first thing that opens up their world to the possibility of study abroad”
“What does that look like and how do you start to infuse the language acquisition component to study abroad?
“We’re not just talking about the idea of studying abroad in an English-speaking country; we’re saying, let’s focus on language acquisition because that opens a student’s world in a way that only benefits the study abroad experience.”
Additionally, it will be looking into the idea of onboarding more first-generation students into study abroad programs.
The idea focuses on recommendations for best practice in higher ed to design programming that benefits those students, and opens up their world to study abroad.
The final piece of the puzzle, which is providing support from underrepresented communities, will be interwoven into the entire Center’s ethos and practice.
Temple will serve additionally as the Center’s executive sponsor, while Lindsay Gee Calvert has been chosen to lead the Center as its full-time director.