KC Spotlight - International Education

John Howe, NASPA IV-W IEKC Representative

April 27, 2017

In his classic novel, The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain (1990) surmises that “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesale, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime” (p. 424).

While international travel and experiencing cultures and customs first-hand is transformational, many in our nation (and largely land-locked region) find global mobility out of their reach. According to the Institute for International Education annual Open Doors report, 313,415 US students participated in study abroad programs in 2014-2015, a 2.9% increase from the previous year (Farrugia & Bhandari, 2015). Though it is heartening to see this number increasing, this accounts for 1.6% of US undergraduate students.

The Open Doors report also presents another form of increasing global mobility. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 1,043,939 international students pursued educational opportunities in the United States, a 7.1% increase from the previous academic year. (Farrugia & Bhandari, 2015). Though campuses move toward internationalization efforts, it is imperative to remember that capacity does not imply engagement. In their study on international students, Zhao, Kuh, and Carini (2005), concluded that “a campus cannot simply recruit a critical mass of international students; it must also intentionally arrange its resources so that international students and American students benefit in desired ways from one another’s presence” (p. 225). 

NASPA’s International Educational Knowledge Community (IEKC) provides opportunities and resources to truly incorporate and facilitate global exchange and learning. This is best typified through the International Symposium held as a pre-conference prior to the NASPA annual meeting. The 22nd International Symposium in San Antonio brought student affairs leaders from over 20 countries. This gathering allowed for rich discussions on global issues in student affairs over sessions and meals with professionals spanning the world from Chile to China and Kazakhstan to Kuwait. This symposium is truly a remarkable way to internationalize your NASPA conference experience and create a global network of student affairs peers. Participants from the International Symposium have continued the rich discussions and research resulting in Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education (https://www.naspa.org/publications/books/supporting-students-globally), a recent NASPA publication focused on global movements in student affairs.

While the International Symposium offers unparalleled opportunities to create global connections, the IEKC provides means to engage via social media throughout the year. Connect with the International Education Knowledge Community through the following:

We hope to you see you at the International Symposium in Philadelphia or engage with IEKC membership on Twitter, Facebook, or an upcoming webinar. While international excursions may not be in our reach, global learning and connections with the IEKC are just clicks away.

Dr. John Howe services as the Associate Dean of Students and the University of South Dakota.  He is the NASPA IV-W representative for the Internional Education Knowledge Community.  John may be reached at [email protected].  


Farrugia, C. A., & Bhandari, R. (2015). Open Doors 2015 Report on International Education. New York: Institute of International Education.

Twain, M. (1990). The innocents abroad. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association.

Zhao, C. M., Kuh, G. D., & Carini, R. M. (2005). A comparison of international student and American student engagement in American student engagement in effective educational practices. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(2), 209-231.

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