Ideals and Challenges in International Education

May 31, 2013

By Lisa Schock

International educators must always hold themselves to the very highest standards of inclusion regardless of the challenges they may face, Dr. Teresa Amott, president of Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, shared with a gathering of educators Thursday during the Liberal Arts Institutions and Women's Colleges networking luncheon at NAFSA’s 2013 Annual Conference in St. Louis.

An international educator herself and self-described global nomad, Amott was born in Brazil and has lived on four continents. She received her bachelor's degree in economics from Smith College and her PhD in economics from Boston College. Amott was serving as provost and dean of the faculty at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in New York when it was awarded NAFSA’s Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Internationalization in 2010.

The challenges faced by international educators are important not only to us but also to the rest of the world, Amott said, noting the variety of hats that educators wear as they work through issues related to health and safety, risk management, cost constraints, compliance with regulations, new technologies, changing student demographics, and the elusive pursuit of ways to track outcomes related to their work.

Outcomes, Amott said, “are hard to measure but palpable to all of us who do the work.”

Amott mentioned several larger “structural” challenges that international educators face today, such as helping ensure that all students have equal access to international education experiences regardless of socioeconomic class, and striving for gender equity (particularly looking at the underrepresentation of males studying abroad as well as the underrepresentation of women coming to the United States to study from certain countries).

“Inclusion is part and parcel of our mission but not always easy to achieve,” she said.

Amott reflected that as international educators, we live in a world of flags. But, she said, recalling the iconic photo of planet Earth taken during the Apollo 17 space mission in 1972, “that is the challenge of international educators—to live in a world of flags but to keep always in our minds the Blue Marble, the one planet that we all share.”


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