As content chair of the 2013 Annual Conference Committee (ACC), I have enjoyed working with ACC Chair Steve Ferst and the entire ACC to develop a rich range of educational opportunities related to peace, justice, and social responsibility as it connects to international education. Many of these events demonstrate the significance of international education in global relations. We hope events at this annual conference will greatly expand the knowledge base of international educators in the areas of peace, justice, and social responsibility.

Our plenary speakers will focus on their work to make our world a better place. In addition, we have many general sessions and special programs in St. Louis in support of this theme. Guest speakers will enhance our knowledge in this area: Gina Rosabal, a social equity specialist, will speak about social justice paradigms in international education. Peter MacKeith will demonstrate how architecture and international development work together to make positive changes in cities around the world. Leila Sadat, the Henry H. Oberschelp Professor of Law at the Washington University in St. Louis and director of the Crimes Against Humanity Initiative, will discuss forging a convention for crimes against humanity and the work of the initiative. Shibley Telhami, a renowned speaker on the Middle East, will discuss recent events and unrest in this critical region.

Social responsibility is not the only theme guest speakers will support. George Mehaffy, vice president of AASCU, will present on the future challenges in higher education related to fast-developing technologies. Eric Stoller, a well-known social media expert in higher education, will provide a high-level assessment of social media and global student affairs. Pia Orrenius from the Dallas Federal Reserve will share her insight into how immigration affects the U.S. economy. And Harry Chernotsky, director of international studies and professor of political science at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, will discuss how international studies is preparing students for the global, fast-paced world they will inherit. Together, all of these guest speakers provide valuable insights from other fields that impact international education, and carry the potential to help us all be better professionals.

Preconference workshops play a key role in supporting conference themes this year too. ACC Workshop Chair Sandra Schinnerl and all of the workshop trainers have been hard at work refining the content of all preconference workshops , which are an excellent source for in-depth professional development.

Poster fairs are another growth area at the annual conference that are incredibly productive for longtime conference attendees and newcomers. This year there are 18 themed fairs with more than 500 presenters. If you haven’t attended a poster fair at a recent conference, they provide a great opportunity to share valuable knowledge in a one-on-one atmosphere. A special thanks to ACC Poster Fair Chair Sara Thurston-González and all poster fair organizers for building such a rich range of offerings.

Before my schedule was completely packed, I held space for a few of the programs listed above. I am particularly enthusiastic about attending guest speaker sessions. Specifically, I will attend Gina Rosabal’s session on social equity and Eric Stoller’s session on social media. These relate directly to current projects in my office and to my goals for the conference. I have also found poster fairs to be incredibly productive ways to gain a range of insights very quickly; I plan to attend the Increasing Diversity Outreach and Support for Education Abroad Fair. The final highlight for me will be the International Plenary and Luncheon on Friday. Each year this luncheon provides an essential opportunity to slow down and reflect on a busy and inspirational week.

See you in St. Louis!

Which of the guest speaker sessions are you most excited about and why? Tell us in the comments.

David Wick, EdD is the content chair for the 2013 Annual Conference Committee. He is assistant director of the Office of International Programs and coordinator of study abroad services at San Francisco State University. Wick has presented numerous sessions and workshops at NAFSA conferences and has held a variety of leadership positions, including most recently serving as Trainer Corps preparation program trainer, chair of the NAFSA Academy, and poster fair organizer for the fair Enhancing Learning Before, During, and After Education Abroad.