Recent Innovations & Optimism for the Future

Authored by:
James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

James P. Pellow, Ed.D.

For more than a year I have written primarily with details of CIEE's plans and our pivots in response to the global pandemic. Today, it is a pleasure to instead write to you with good news about CIEE’s recent innovations and to share my optimism for the future of study abroad.

CIEE Recognized for Innovation

I’m pleased to announce that two CIEE projects were selected as finalists for 2021 GoAbroad Innovation Awards. The CIEE Health Risk Index was selected as a finalist in the Innovation in Crisis Response category. Developed early last year to broaden the perspective on overall risk, the HRI provides a summary of data points to inform decision makers. This data has proven invaluable in assessing our ability to deliver study abroad programs that meet our high standards for safety, academic rigor, and enriching intercultural experiences. And the Virtual Global Innovation Internship created in partnership by CIEE and HEX was selected as a finalist in the Innovative New Intern Abroad Program category. Delivered online, the Virtual Global Innovation Internship combines one week of intensive entrepreneurial skill acquisition with virtual internships at companies around the globe. At a cost of less than $2,000, the program makes accessible an opportunity for students to build new economy skills and international professional relationships.  

Custom Programs for International Students Successfully Conclude

Last year, when it became clear that due to COVID-19, international students enrolled in American universities would not be able to study on campus in the United States, we quickly engaged our institutional partners to see how we could help. In less than two months, to help our partners retain and support their international students, we put together cohort-based custom programs to meet each institution’s particular needs, creating a robust living and learning environment with diverse extracurriculars and student services. Ultimately, in fall 2020 we created nine custom programs for eight American institutions, supporting 1,200 students from eight different countries.

Fall programs for international students were such as success that all partner institutions repeated their Shanghai programs in spring 2021. These spring programs are now wrapping up and we have received positive feedback from students and institutions. In Shanghai, where CIEE supported more than 800 students this spring, CIEE provided not just academic support, but also a true feeling of campus engagement with a wealth of extracurricular activities organized by social and sports clubs, including this month an intercollegiate basketball tournament designed to bring students from all eight universities together.

Reflections on Achieving our IIE Generation Study Abroad Goals and the Future of Study Abroad

IIE recently published a report on the impact of their Generation Study Abroad Initiative and it inspired me to reflect on the changes in study abroad participation CIEE has seen since we first made our Generation Study Abroad pledge. Since 2014, CIEE has doubled the number of students who study abroad with our organization each year by providing $53 million in financial aid, grants, and discounts; awarding 10,000 free passports; expanding our custom faculty-led programs; and offering a wider variety of programs, including STEM and business programs, and shorter, more affordable block programs.

Over this period, CIEE also greatly increased the racial and socioeconomic diversity of students we serve through initiatives designed to encourage more students from diverse backgrounds to study abroad, including the Frederick Douglass Global Fellowship and Summer Scholars programs.

CIEE significantly exceeded our Generation Study Abroad pledge goals thanks to so many incredibly dedicated study abroad professionals at CIEE and at our partner institutions. Together we changed more lives than we ever imagined.  

With college students now eligible for vaccination and the health and safety outlook in many countries greatly improving, we expect study abroad to reemerge with more momentum than ever before. We look forward to working with our partners to address today’s challenges even as we continue to open doors to study abroad for all students from all backgrounds. 

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