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The Takeaway from Forum's Annual Conference

The Forum on Education Abroad hosted its sixth annual conference with a record 930 attendees in North Carolina’s “Queen City” of Charlotte, March 24-26. The conference theme, “Vision and Value in Education Abroad,” stimulated a good deal of (re)thinking about making the case for study abroad in today’s tough economic climate on most U.S. campuses. Much of the conference focused on assessment – making the case for the value of study abroad – and partnerships – in research, program design and delivery.

Despite my 35 years in international education, this was my first Forum conference. (Forum’s founding conference was in 2002 in Santa Fe.) The association has clearly grown dramatically, buoyed by the unprecedented expansion of study abroad in the past 10-15 years. But tough budget times on U.S. campuses mean that even this explosive growth cannot be taken for granted.

CEA Global Education attends conferences such as Forum to learn from colleagues in diverse settings – from campuses, associations, and other program providers – and, of course, to network with current and future partners. But we also seek to make our own contribution, as we did at Forum with an animated pre-conference reception on Wednesday and three sessions that included presentations by CEA staff on Thursday and Friday. Nine CEA staff participated in this year’s Forum conference.

The “takeaway” from this year’s Forum conference?

Although the meeting has inevitably lost some of its intimacy from the days when only a few hundred gathered annually, attendees are clearly energized by the continued zeal – and increasing sophistication – of practitioners who work every day to help students gain an international experience and advance their global competence.

Congratulations to the Forum on Education Abroad on an outstanding conference!

John D. Heyl,
PhD Vice President of Global Education
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