IDEAS Initiatives

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In collaboration with the U.S. Department of State, World Learning will implement a number of free initiatives for the wider U.S. study abroad community to expand and diversify U.S. student mobility abroad. These initiatives will take the form of in-person workshops and webinars. Resources will be made available to bolster the capacity and knowledge sharing of U.S. higher education in support of expanding American student mobility overseas. The overall goal of the IDEAS Initiatives (formerly known as Capacity Building Initiatives) is to convey best practices in study abroad capacity building, increase knowledge sharing and networking, and provide capacity building resources to the wider U.S. study abroad community.

IDEAS Incubator Workshops

IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students) Incubator workshops (formerly known as Capacity Building Initiative Workshops) will be one-day, in-person, free events hosted by U.S. higher education institutions. Study abroad stakeholders such as study abroad advisors, faculty, and other staff involved with or interested in creating, expanding, and/or diversifying study abroad opportunities for U.S. students at their U.S. higher education institution are invited to register to attend.

Please note, registration requests are paused until new workshop dates have been selected and it is safe to travel and congregate.

Objectives of the IDEAS Incubator workshops are to:

  • Share best practices on study abroad capacity building topics as identified by the U.S. study abroad community;
  • Share USA Study Abroad information and other U.S. Department of State and U.S. Government resources; and
  • Build and strengthen the U.S. study abroad community networks for future sharing of resources and best practices.

We would like to ensure that everyone who is interested in these workshops is able to participate. For that reason, limited financial support is available to help offset the cost of participation for those coming from over a two-hour drive away. Travel funding can be requested within the registration form.

Check out this video re-cap from the 2020 IDEAS Incubator Workshop at the University of Georgia.

Workshop Title: Recruiting and Supporting Study Abroad Students from Underrepresented Groups
Workshop Host: St. Cloud State University
Workshop Date: Postponed from May 1, 2020. New date to be determined
Workshop Location:  St. Cloud, MN

St. Cloud State University (SCSU) will host a workshop focusing on the recruitment and support of underrepresented students in study abroad. SCSU’s Multicultural Student Services, Department of Ethnic and Gender Studies, and Center for International Studies have worked together to review the barriers students of color (SOC) face related to education abroad and engage more SOC in education abroad through two cultural heritage programs. Using their South Africa and Laos, Thailand and Malaysia programs, as well as initiatives focusing on non-traditional students, LGBTQ+ students, students with disabilities, and others as models, SCSU’s workshop will help U.S. study abroad professionals to develop successful strategies for recruiting and supporting their own underrepresented students.
In this workshop, participants will hear from program alumni, faculty, and staff who have championed international education and study abroad access, share their own best practices, and facilitate dialogue with other higher education institutions committed to mobilizing underrepresented students. Discussion topics include: (a) institutional partnerships for access and opportunity; (b) cultural heritage programs student panel; and (c) building a unique program on your campus.

Workshop Title: Best Practices in Study Abroad Program Assessment and Evaluation
Workshop Host: Mount Holyoke College
Workshop Date:  Postponed from May 1, 2020. New date to be determined
Workshop Location: South Hadley, Massachusetts

Mount Holyoke College, in partnership with representatives from Goucher College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, will host a day of collaboration and professional development for U.S. study abroad professionals. The Professional and Graduate Education (PaGE) division of Mount Holyoke College has been developing a Global and Intercultural Education specialization focused on helping professionals in the field build their cultural competency, advocate for intercultural education, and support diversity and equity through their work. It is through this work that they have recognized how critical increasing diversity and good program design and assessment are in international education.
In this workshop, participants will explore emerging and best practices in study abroad assessment and evaluation through two plenary sessions, a theory-to-practice session on inclusion and diversity, four interactive breakout sessions, and a new ideas incubator. Discussion topics include: (a) diversity and inclusion: assessing institutional readiness to support all learners studying abroad; (b) going further together: assessing institutional partnerships; (c) preparing students to make a positive impact: assessing pre-travel and orientation programs; (d) assessing student growth and development; (e) building institutional capacity: supporting and assessing faculty-led trips; and (f) assessing re-entry programs.

IDEAS Incubator Webinars

IDEAS Incubator Webinars are virtual trainings for study abroad stakeholders intended to share best practices on study abroad capacity building topics as identified by the U.S. study abroad community. The series of webinars below focus on maximizing your institutions’ resources while study abroad programming has been impacted by the global pandemic. Please stay tuned for more events in the months to come!

Webinar Title: Maximizing your study abroad resources: Faculty-led best practices for program flexibility
Webinar Date: July 16, 2020 from 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time

Presented by Neriko Doerr, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and International Studies at Ramapo College and Jennifer Cinti, Assistant Director of Custom Programs at SIT-Study Abroad.

The global pandemic has created uncertainty for the field of study abroad. This session will highlight how institutions can capitalize on this disruption to their usual practices and rebuild their faculty-led study abroad programs to incorporate best practices from the field to become more varied, integrated, and inclusive. Speakers from SIT-Study Abroad and Ramapo College will highlight the principles and building blocks of successful faculty-led study abroad and how those principles can be applied to on-site or virtual programming so that no matter what the future holds for international travel, study abroad programming can remain an integral part of a student’s education. 

Webinar Title: Risk Management in Study Abroad
Webinar Date: TBD

This webinar will cover the topic of risk management for study abroad programs. Potential topics may include developing a proactive risk management plan, best practices and institutional protocols for student affairs abroad, crisis management, and student health services.

Past Initiatives

Workshop Title: Study Abroad Campus Outreach and Recruitment
Workshop Host: California State University, Bakersfield
Workshop Date: Friday, January 24, 2020
Workshop Location:  
Bakersfield, CA

California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB), will host a workshop designed to present participants with best practices and techniques for increasing the number of students who study or intern abroad from their institutions and diversifying the locations to which they travel and the students who study abroad. In the four years since its inception, CSUB’s Study Abroad Office has built relationships with dozens of schools worldwide and created methods to expand the number of students who study abroad, resulting in a 94% increase in the number of students participating in study abroad programs at the institution.
By partnering with five CSU campuses, CSUB’s workshop will feature knowledge and perspectives from a broad pool of experts. In order to explore the proposed topics, the workshop will include two plenary sessions, three breakout sessions, and a networking luncheon. Discussion topics will include: (a) developing a global mindset for all students; (b) university-university partnerships: the key to successful outreach; (c) Using technology to increase study abroad student numbers – best practices; and (d) specialty programs to boost enrollment in study abroad programs.

Workshop Title: Faculty-led Study Abroad Best Practices
Workshop Host: University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Workshop Date: Friday, January 31, 2020
Workshop Location:Charlotte, North Carolina

The University of North Carolina (UNC), Charlotte’s Office of Education Abroad (OEA) and Intercultural and Educational Experiences have seen extensive growth in the area of faculty-led programs, increasing offerings from 12 programs in 2003 to sending over 500 students and 60 faculty on 40-50 programs annually. As its faculty-led programming has grown UNC Charlotte has utilized best practices to develop an infrastructure that will support continued growth while serving diverse student, faculty, academic, and programing needs. In an effort to share their knowledge, this workshop aims to focus on building a foundation in best practices for developing programs and budgets, while also giving participants space to explore critical topics relevant to risk management, marketing, and program assessment – all essential components of effective program administration. UNC Charlotte has designed the morning sessions for all participants to develop the building blocks of program design and management. The afternoon sessions will allow participants to self-select into topics most pertinent to their current programming and institutional needs.

Workshop Title: Faculty-led Study Abroad Best Practices: Addressing Grand Challenges in Faculty-led Study Abroad
Workshop Host: University of Georgia
Workshop Date: Friday, February 28, 2020
Workshop Location: Athens, Georgia

The University of Georgia (UGA), Savannah State University, Middle Georgia State University and Georgia State University, will host a one-day workshop for study abroad administrators focused on Faculty-led Study Abroad Best Practices to address key challenges in expanding access to global experiences. The workshop will give attendees successful models for faculty-led study abroad programming from various vantage points, offer attendees examples of successful collaborations with on-campus and off-campus partners to overcome capacity building challenges, and create structured networking opportunities throughout the event’s sessions and breaks to expand attendees’ professional networks. Through case studies and knowledge sharing, participants will actively engage in finding ways to enhance their existing practices in study abroad program management to expand their institutional capacity.

Webinar Title: Maximizing your study abroad resources: Supporting underrepresented students in study abroad
Webinar Date: June 16, 2020 from 2:00-3:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Click here to view the webinar recording

Presented by Ruby Shields, Student Services Program Coordinator at Diversity Abroad and Daisy Rodriguez Pitel, Associate Director, International Student and Global Engagement at Pima Community College.

The rapidly changing student demographic landscape has given rise to the need for more inclusive study abroad programs. Based on available data, the number of students from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds participating in education abroad opportunities has not kept pace with demographic trends in higher education. The global pandemic will likely exacerbate already existing issues in recruiting underrepresented students. Program staff and faculty leaders often wonder how they can design their program to be more “attractive” to a wider range of students. This session presents strategies for recruitment and program design to better support the success of underrepresented students in education abroad. The resources and tools shared through the webinar will provide participants with an opportunity to create a more inclusive approach once study abroad programming resumes.  

If you have questions about any of these IDEAS Initiatives, please email

The Capacity Building Program for U.S. Study Abroad is a program of the U.S. Department of State with funding provided by the U.S. Government and supported in its implementation by World Learning.