The CIEE International Education and Exchange Summit

COVID-19 has changed our world in countless ways — some temporary, some likely permanent. As advocates for positive change in our world through international exchange and study abroad, we now must embrace this change and help chart a responsible path forward to a new future for study abroad programs and our important work of bringing the world together. A future that will draw on our past success even as we respond with courage to the realities of 2020.

In the spirit of accepting our new reality, CIEE’s Annual Conference Committee has cancelled the 73rd Annual CIEE Conference on Study Abroad, scheduled to take place in November 2020 in Seoul, South Korea, and substituted that venerable in-person gathering with a virtual gathering of leaders from all types of international exchange programs who will be invited to address the significant challenges we all face in a COVID-19 world.

CIEE will host the CIEE International Education and Exchange Summit (CIEES) during International Education Week, November 16-20, 2020. The CIEES will be a free online event, delivered through a series of short workshops and presentations, that will look at the future of cultural exchange programs of all types and tackle topics around the theme: Reimagine, Rebuild, Reopen.

Collaboration with our partners and networks worldwide in charting this new path is critical. In fact, without global collaboration, we will not be able to adequately meet the challenges we face.   

To facilitate that collaboration, CIEE will solicit exemplary thought leaders in international exchange to serve as a planning committee for the summit. They will identify the most pressing and immediate issues we face today and select panelist that will lead us through exploration, data-assessment, and problem solving workshops, that ideally will provide an initial road map of best practices for bringing the world together again in ways that are both safe and educationally and culturally rich.

During International Education Week: November 16-20, 2020 we will bring together in an online format our colleagues not just in the study abroad space at the university level, but peers who work in high school study abroad programs, work exchange programs, GAP year programs, internship and experiential education programs, along with experts in Health, Safety, and Security and other fields. We will invite representatives from national governments, including the U.S. Department of State and the German Bundestag, to name a few. This will be an opportunity to share with one another our diverse but related experiences, perspectives, and insights with a focus on practical learnings that can be applied to the current global landscape.

While nothing can replace the experience of being together in person, we are glad we can take advantage of the online format to make the CIEE International Education and Exchange Summit more accessible. By offering this opportunity for free, we hope to diversify the voices we learn from within the study abroad community and beyond.

The planning committee will set the final agenda, but possible questions that might be addressed include: What will be the outlook for international education and exchange after November’s presidential election? How can we continue leveraging technology to help students embrace the world when travel options are limited? What are some practical steps that can be taken for risk mitigation of various participant housing options? How can international education address in concrete ways the need to expand access and diversity in a more complex world?

Further details regarding the formation of the CIEES planning committee, summit curation, and call for proposals will be released on June 24, 2020.

CIEE’s next Annual Conference on Study Abroad will be held in San Diego in November 2021, and Seoul in November 2022, where we will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the founding of CIEE.

Over the decades, world events have periodically interrupted our work of international education and exchange. Yet, working together, we have always found a way to overcome the barriers of the day. I look forward to connecting with you all online this fall as we Reimagine, Rebuild, and Reopen international education and exchange.