Citizen Diplomacy Summit to Include Showcase of Innovative Programs in U.S. Higher Education

NAFSA CEO Marlene Johnson Co-chairs Summit's Higher Education Task Force


Contact: Ursula Oaks, 202.495.2553

For Release: September 20, 2010

WASHINGTON, September 20, 2010 – Momentum is building for November's U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy, a three-day event aimed at bolstering Americans' engagement in international activities and issues. Today the lead organizer of the event, the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD), announced the slate of exemplary programs and initiatives that will be showcased at the Summit.

Earlier this year, Summit task forces in nine sectors – business; community-based organizations; development assistance; global health; higher education; international cultural engagement; international voluntary service; K-12 education, and youth service – engaged in a broad outreach effort to solicit nominations for consideration. Applicants were asked to highlight how their programs address one or more of the following global challenges through citizen-to-citizen partnerships: preserving the environment; reducing poverty and disease; increasing respect for human rights; creating a globally competent society; encouraging cultural engagement; achieving food security; and securing U.S. and global financial security.

NAFSA Executive Director and CEO Marlene M. Johnson co-chaired the Summit's Higher Education Task Force with John Halder, until recently president and executive director of Community Colleges for International Development.

"In today's world, citizen engagement with people and communities beyond our borders is imperative for our country's leadership in the world, as well as its economic vitality and security," said Johnson. "Our higher education community plays an enormously important role, in the unique ways that it can connect Americans with the global community and foster a better understanding of and active participation in international affairs."

The Higher Education Task Force selected 10 programs at U.S. colleges and universities that serve as outstanding examples of how to engage many more Americans in citizen diplomacy and address the major global challenges of the 21st century.

"We were impressed by how creative and entrepreneurial institutions are in serving students' needs and engaging internationally," said Johnson. "Students today are seeking opportunities to make a difference, and they also demand an education that builds the global competencies they will need after graduation. These programs are vitally important, and we hope the Summit will generate momentum, leadership support, and creative thinking about how to engage even more Americans in activities that address global challenges and build ties of understanding and friendship across borders."

The programs selected by the Higher Education Task Force are: Sajuka Community Development Project at Bay Path College; Minority Health International Research Training Program at Florida A and M University; Global Deaf Village at Gallaudet University; Las Pintas International Service-Learning Project at Johnson County Community College; Global Learning and the Annual Country Study Program at Kennesaw State University; Connecting the World in Wausau at Northcentral Technical College; SJSU Salzburg Program at San José State University; Project Artemis-Afghanistan at Thunderbird School of Management; Olive Tree Initiative at the University of California at Irvine; and Global Service-Learning at the University of San Francisco.

Visit NAFSA's grassroots Web site Connecting Our World for a special feature of stories and photos from the selected programs.

Each of the selected programs - 90 in all across the nine sectors – will be included in a portfolio to be produced for the Summit, and each task force will deliver a presentation on its sector during the event. The goal of the Summit – and a subsequent ten-year "Initiative for Global Citizen Diplomacy" – is to harness the power of citizen diplomacy to address global challenges by doubling the number of Americans of all ages who are engaged in international activities at home or abroad, from an estimated 60 million today to 120 million by 2020. The event, to be held in Washington, DC, November 16 – 19, is a partnership between USCCD and the U.S. Department of State. Senior administration officials and international delegations, as well leaders in the corporate, philanthropic, nonprofit, and education communities, will participate.