NAFSA 2022 Annual Conference & Expo

Peers and experts joined together at the NAFSA 2022 Annual Conference & Expo, the premier global professional learning and networking event for international educators and organizations supporting international education programs. Together, we are "Building Our Sustainable Future."

The theme for NAFSA 2022 is “Building our Sustainable Future.” With this in mind, NAFSA has taken additional steps to highlight this theme and minimize the environmental impact of the conference. 

This year’s new format, with both virtual and physical components, provides more options for members of the international education community who are interested in attending the conference without adding to their carbon footprints. Denver, the destination for the conference, is a global leader in sustainability. A LEED for Cities Platinum certified city, Denver has a dedicated office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency and is committed to running entirely on renewable energy by 2030. 

NAFSA is proud to reduce printed conference materials and work with partners to encourage sustainable practices. The conference site, the Colorado Convention Center, is a LEED Gold certified building that conducts numerous sustainable initiatives, including obtaining food from an on-site farm and powering events via rooftop solar panels. Our partner VISIT DENVER has received several sustainability certifications and has assembled recommendations for some green activities to check out while you’re in Denver. From lowering energy use to using low-flow toilets and showers, the hotels in our housing block have adopted sustainable procedures.

Sustainability Programming

In accordance with the conference theme, attendees of NAFSA 2022 have the opportunity to engage with a variety of programming that explores the relationship between environmental sustainability and international education.

Pathways Forward in International Education

Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 6:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m. (MDT) (Virtual)
This community gathering for all international educators launches a global conversation on building our sustainable future. International education association leaders from around the world discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our field and offer perspectives on the path forward. While considering a broad definition of sustainability, they discuss how sustainable measures are manifested in their work and the work of their members. Join this event to share, learn, and listen as we explore ways to rebuild our global ecosystem with purpose and confidence.

The Sustainability Dilemma of International Exchange

Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 10:00 a.m.–10:50 a.m. (MDT) (Virtual)
International exchange produces conflicting targets: international travel versus sustainability. However, the benefits of student exchange for intercultural experiences and cooperation are indisputable. Presenters discuss the solutions that one can offer to solve that dilemma, as well as the role of virtual mobility and digitalization.

Revitalizing Our Culture in Times of Globalization to Ensure Climate Justice

Wednesday, May 4, 2022, 11:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m. (MDT) (Virtual)
In a hyperconnected world with limitless information and instantaneous delivery of almost anything, educators may feel it’s hard to make sense about their role as teachers. Likewise, in a context where young people are constantly hearing about the pandemic, climate crisis, and war refugees, it can be difficult for them to discern what’s important to them and to plan a career around it. How can educators create content that helps students identify their purpose and prepare for these challenging times? In her talk, Xiye argues that cultural revitalization can shift the way social and environmental injustices are addressed. She also makes recommendations about how cultural revitalization can happen in an educational setting.

Leadership in Sustainability: A Global Showcase

Thursday, May 5, 2022, 3:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. (MDT) (Virtual)
International education has a unique role in building a more sustainable world. Join experts from leading institutions around the globe as they share model practices in international education and sustainability and discuss ways to incorporate Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) into overall global engagement strategies for greater access, growth and impact.

Symposium on Leadership: Sustaining International Education: Strategies and Solutions for Leaders

Tuesday, May 31, 2022, 2:00 p.m.–4:00 p.m. (MDT)
The aftermath of the global coronavirus pandemic presents ongoing challenges as international education (IE) leaders and senior international officers (SIOs) regularly address evolving institutional priorities, react to shifting fiscal realities, and navigate the complex changes occurring throughout our field. We also work in a world where climate change, poverty, and global inequity remain, compelling many IE leaders to monitor and incorporate the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as a guiding strategy. The 2022 Symposium on Leadership offers current and aspiring internationalization leaders with fresh perspectives and practical insight designed to enhance individual and institutional effectiveness. The Symposium is an ideal opportunity to network with other IE leaders and SIOs, engage in meaningful dialogue with international colleagues, and bring new ideas home to help sustain international education at your organization.

Virtual Global Experiences: Designs, Outcomes, and Long-Term Opportunities

Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 9:30 a.m.–10:20 a.m. (MDT) 
Initially a quick pivot due to the pandemic, virtual international experiences now expand opportunities for intercultural learning and exchange. This session presents successful models and examines the value of virtual experiences to accessibility, student-reported learning outcomes, career preparedness, recruitment, and environmental sustainability.

NAFSA Pavilion Program: Sustainability in Action: Key Steps Toward a Sustainable Future

Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 1:00 p.m.–1:30 p.m. (MDT) 
NAFSA is committed to building a sustainable future. Learn more about key steps you can take in your campus community and resources available to support this work at NAFSA.

Take Action: Embedding Sustainable Practices into Education Abroad Programs

Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 1:00 p.m.–1:50 p.m. (MDT)
Explore action-focused resources for embedding sustainable practices into education abroad programs. Discuss successful methods and shared challenges to create and adapt socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable practices in new and existing programs. Learn strategies used in a variety of regions, including Latin America and Oceania.

Aligning U.S. International Education with Sustainability Goals to Increase Recruitment

Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 2:30 p.m.– 3:20 p.m. (MDT)
Join representatives from the United Nations, Study California, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and the U.S. Department of Commerce to learn about the U.S. education industry’s role in sustainability, successful programs for attracting international students, and demand for sustainability programs across the globe.

Sustainability SIG Open Meeting

Wednesday, June 1, 2022, 3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. (MDT) 

The Role of the Senior International Officer (SIO) in Advancing Campus Engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Thursday, June 2, 2022, 10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m. (MDT)
Hear from international education leaders on ways to engage key stakeholders to advance sustainability initiatives.

Carbon Offsets and Education Abroad Air Travel

Thursday, June 2, 2022, 11:30 a.m.–11:55 a.m. (MDT)
This presentation outlines steps taken by the University of Virginia International Studies Office to create and implement a carbon offset program for select education abroad air travel. The presenters share the initial steps taken and plans to assess the program as education abroad continues to resume. 

Filling in the Gaps in Climate Education and Climate Justice

Thursday, June 2, 2022, 11:30 a.m.–11:55 a.m. (MDT)

Access to climate and sustainability education in U.S. higher educational institutions is lagging. This session explores the pivotal role that education abroad can play in redressing these gaps by educating students on the disproportionate impact of climate change on the global south; highlighting local solutions-based responses to climate-related changes; and centering indigenous rights, knowledge, and wisdom. Yet learning about climate change is not enough. Educating students on their rights and encouraging political and civic engagement through action-based work in their local communities and contexts is just as critical. When students move beyond climate education toward climate justice, they are empowered to become agents of change, as well as of their own learning, and ultimately, to discover their own unique role in climate action and sustainable development work.

Myth or Reality: Education Abroad Can Become Carbon Neutral

Thursday, June 2, 2022, 2:30 p.m.–3:20 p.m. (MDT)
Education abroad trips have been widely criticized for their high carbon footprint impact, particularly the travel component. Is it possible to become a carbon-neutral field? Presenters review the latest research and trends, pose critical questions to the participants, and collectively create a roadmap for on carbon reduction and removal’s model practices and ideas. 

Sustainability at NAFSA

NAFSA is committed to proactively developing, supporting, and integrating sustainable practices into our work as international educators. We accept the shared responsibility to protect, preserve, and wherever possible, improve our environment by integrating this commitment into our programming, teaching, research, scholarship, and other practices.

2020-2021 NAFSA Senior Fellows

The NAFSA Senior Fellows provide intellectual support to NAFSA’s efforts in thought leadership and research generation in global learning and internationalization. The NAFSA 2020–21 Senior Fellows devoted their term to the nexus between climate change, sustainability, and international education, creating critical scholarship in this vital area. Together they developed a white paper, Sustainability in International Education, that furthered their work on a previous Trends & Insights issue. These resources are available to all NAFSA 2022 conference attendees through the online planner.

NAFSA Resources