76th Annual CIEE Study Abroad Conference – LEADING CHANGE IN STUDY ABROAD

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Thank you to everyone who joined us last month in Paris at the 76th Annual CIEE Study Abroad Conference focused on the theme: Leading Change in Study Abroad.

Through plenary talks, salons, and informal discussions at networking events, the thought leaders who convened in Paris explored how higher education can and must change to meet the needs of today’s students. We examined the role of “traditional study abroad,” as well as the growing demand for experiential learning opportunities (such as internships, service learning, and research) that teach essential skills. We asked ourselves how we can make international experiences more aligned with the evolving needs and passions of our stakeholders, including college presidents, students, parents and employers.

Preparing CIEE to Lead Change

CIEE 76th Annual Conference on Study Abroad

Alongside the conference, the CIEE Board of Directors met in Paris to help shape CIEE’s strategic plan that will chart our course for the next few years. I am grateful for the wisdom and support of our board members, each of whom have been personally transformed by international programs and share our belief in the power of international exchange to change our world for the better.

CIEE’s International Program Advisory Committee (IPAC) convened for its biannual meeting on program quality, program development, and thought leadership. These extraordinary international educators help CIEE ensure that our programs are delivering the highest level of quality to your students, that our programs are relevant and impactful, and that we continue to stay focused on what matters most in our ever-changing world.

76th Annual CIEE Study Abroad Conference Highlights

CIEE 76th Annual Conference on Study Abroad

The events in Paris kicked off on Wednesday with a pre-conference workshop on Mental Health First Aid for Higher Education facilitated by Morgan Reiss, Director of Health, Safety and Security at CIEE; and Rebecca Cando, Regional Security Manager at CIEE. Workshop participants learned the tools they need to provide effective and compassionate support to students facing mental health and substance use challenges, earning the title of Certified Mental Health First Aider, with a certification that remains valid for three years.

Wednesday evening, the conference opened with a lively plenary panel discussion on the theme Reimagining the Future of Higher and Global Education. Ben Waxman, the founder and CEO of Intead moderated the panel comprised of: Kenneth Elmore, President Dean CollegeRebecca Kohn, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Elon University; Jennifer Malerich, Assistant Vice Provost, Academic & Global Engagement at Arizona State University; and Amy Stevens, Vice Chancellor, Global Experiential Pathways at Northeastern University.

The need for colleges to help students acquire skills that make them career ready was one of the key themes of the discussion. Research shows that students are deciding where to go to college based on whether they believe they will find the training and skill development that will lead to rewarding employment upon graduation. Students are keenly aware that “the major gets you your first job, but the rest of the experience gets you your career,” said Amy Stevens.

The evening concluded with the Meet CIEE reception held in the exquisitely beautiful and historic salon at the Westin Paris-Vendôme, where attendees had the opportunity to meet with the Center Directors from all 40 CIEE international locations.

Thursday, the day began with sessions on a variety of topics, ranging from the future role of AI in global learning, to how we can increase accessibility and impact sustainability, to how study abroad programs can help bridge the gap between rigorous college curriculums and evolving student interests.

The meaningful and constructive conversations continued at Thursday evening’s offsite reception in the historic salons of the Circle of the Interallied Union, a private social club established in 1917 as a meeting place for the officers and political leaders of the Allies of World War I.

Finally, the conference wrapped up with a closing plenary by Lubomila Jordanova, the co-founder and CEO of Plan A, a leading corporate carbon accounting, decarbonization, and ESG reporting software solutions provider. Lubomila shared concrete ideas on how we can make our world more sustainable.

CIEE Student Sustainability Challenge

CIEE 76th Annual Conference on Study Abroad

Friday, we hosted the CIEE Student Sustainability Challenge where student finalists from Allegheny College, George Washington University, Purdue, Tulane, and the University of Wisconsin presented their ideas for study abroad programs that will help our planet. 

The winner was Kayla Keats, Tulane University, in recognition of her proposal Explore, Taste, Conserve: A CIEE Recipe Book Embracing Sustainable Practices – an actionable idea that CIEE will immediately begin further developing. All finalists were awarded a one-year subscription to Babbel and a travel voucher from Student Universe. You can watch the presentations here.

CIEE’s Commitment to Leading Change in Study Abroad

We believe international educators can play a material role in leading impactful change in study abroad programs that, in turn, help college leaders demonstrate the value of a college degree by helping students develop critical skills that enhance their futures. Inspired by discussions at the Paris conference, we are pleased to share two CIEE pledges for leading change that we hope you will embrace with us.


CIEE will provide three $1 million Challenge Grants to bold leaders in higher education committed to leading change in study abroad. 

In January 2024, CIEE will announce formally a $3 million challenge grant to help college leaders establish bold initiatives to materially expand study abroad programs for their students. Three colleges will be chosen to receive a $1 million challenge grant over four years ($250,000 / year) to support a bold international education program that demonstrates how international education can help to increase undergraduate enrollments, increase retention rates, increase graduation rates, increase institutional financial stability, and most importantly, improve student outcomesCIEE will provide matching grants of $1 million to three college presidents (funded over four years at $250K/year) that are matched by the institution or a donor to the institution, creating four $2 million pools of funds ($500,000 / year) to promote international education across America.


CIEE will partner with external agencies and our university partners on initiatives that engage students in finding solutions to problems related to refugees and to climate change.

In January 2024, CIEE will announce a plan to engage global experts in climate change and migration to advise us how to establish cutting-edge international programs that will help address the impacts of climate change and migration. 

Immediate steps that we have committed to taking to address these challenges include:

  • Establishing a global footprint of place-based research, teaching and action programs related to the environment, climate, and sustainability, that will help heal our planet.
  • Co-sponsoring the second annual Global Internship Conference CIEE - UNHCR Student Challenge at CIEE’s 12th Annual Global Internship Conference in London in June 2024.
  • Selecting the theme “Mother Earth – How International Educators Can Join International Partners from All Academic Fields to Combat Global Warming, Pollution, and Sustainability Threats!” for the 77th Annual CIEE Study Abroad Conference that will be held in Rome in November 2024.

We Want to Hear from You

If you were unable to join the discussion at the 76th Annual CIEE Study Abroad Conference, I’d love to hear from you about how CIEE can lead change in study abroad to better serve your students. Let us know how you see the future of study abroad!

And I hope you will join us at the next CIEE-hosted opportunities to gather in person with peers in international education to drive innovation in the field: