Forum History

The Forum is conceived

The Forum was first conceived in San Diego by a group of education abroad professionals who felt the need for a stand-alone organization.

May 2000

Mission & Goals defined

An organizational statement and goals for the organization were defined. A meeting one month later in Tucson resulted in the creation of a mission statement with five goal areas, the development of criteria for voting membership, and the establishment of subcommittees to produce a Communications Plan, Business Plan, Incorporation Plan, and Member Services/Tasks Plan.

January 2001

The Forum is incorporated

The decision was made to incorporate as The Forum and, over the course of the next year, a Board was created and a search for an Executive Director took place. The Forum co-sponsored the University of Minnesota’s Curriculum Integration Conference and agreed to partner with Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, and adopt it as the official journal of the Forum.

The Forum’s Founding Board Members

July 2001

The First Annual Meeting of The Forum

The Forum convened with over 150 members in attendance, who approved an Advisory Council (now called the Forum Council).

May 2002

Office Opened at Smith College

Geoffrey Bannister, executive director, opened The Forum’s office at Smith College

October 15, 2002

Recognition from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission

In 2005 The Forum received recognition from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to serve as the Standards Development Organization (SDO) for the field of education abroad. Through SDOs, the U.S. government encourages self-regulation and compliance with standards in a wide variety of fields. This important status grants The Forum legal protection in undertaking standards development work, and obligates the organization to exhibit the following elements in developing and disseminating standards: Openness, Balance, Transparency, Consensus, and Due Process.


First Annual Conference

The Forum held its first annual conference in conjunction with the CIEE annual conference, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with 165 participants in attendance.  A dynamic 2005 conference, originally planned for New Orleans, was held in Miami, Florida (again in conjunction with the CIEE conference) with 225 attending.

November 2004

Bylaws Revised

May 25, 2006

Dickinson College Move

The Forum moved its operations to Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Brian Whalen, who had been serving as chair of the Forum Council, became president and CEO while continuing his duties as associate provost and executive director of global education at Dickinson College.

July 1, 2006

The First Stand Alone Conference

The Forum’s third annual conference, Standards in a Diverse World: The Future of Education Abroad, was convened in Austin, Texas in March, 2007. This was The Forum’s first stand-alone conference, and it attracted 400 attendees. Presentations and sessions focused on the results of The Forum’s Standards Pilot Project.

March 2007

Adoption of the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad

The Forum Board of Directors formally adopted the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad (2007) on July 14, 2007. Also in 2007, the Quality Improvement Program (QUIP) was launched as a voluntary process for Forum member institutions to be recognized for assessing how well their programs meet the Standards of Good Practice.


July 14, 2007

The Forum makes the front page of the New York Times

In August, 2007 a front page New York Times article and subsequent investigation by both the New York and Connecticut Offices of the Attorneys General, examined relationships between institutions and provider organizations. The Forum played a critical role throughout this period and advocated both for its members and for following The Forum’s Standards of Good Practice. The Forum’s leadership during this time reflected the importance of self-regulation and adherence to standards.


August 2007

4th Annual Conference in Boston

The Forum’s fourth annual conference, Mapping the Field, was held in Boston, MA in April, 2008 with over 700 people in attendance.

April 2008

Code of Ethics Adoption

The Code of Ethics debuted at the conference and The Forum Board formerly adopted it at its meeting in July, 2008.

July 2008

The Forum Joins with the IIE to Expand Education Abroad

Also in 2008, a special workshop covering trends and issues in U.S. education abroad and the Standards of Good Practice was convened in Limerick, Ireland and was attended by all of the Irish Universities. The Forum announced in December, 2008 a joint project with IIE (Institute for International Education) funded by the U.S. Department of State to assess and expand education abroad capacity in key regions of the world.

December 2008

5th Annual Conference

In February 2009, The Forum’s fifth annual conference was held in Portland, OR with 725 attending. The theme of the conference, Being There: Teaching and Learning Abroad, focused on the unique opportunities and challenges of teaching and learning at education abroad sites. The Forum released the Standards for Short-Term Education Abroad Programs and the first edition of the Education Abroad Glossary. The Forum increased its presence overseas in 2009, offering workshops and presentations in Australia, England, and India.

February 2009

Increased Overseas Presence

The Forum increased its presence overseas in 2009, offering workshops and presentations in Australia, England, and India.


6th Annual Conference

In March 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina, The Forum convened its sixth annual conference, Vision and Value in Education Abroad, which attracted over 900 participants. A new member service was launched, Guided Standards Assessments, providing members with a way to assess their programs by focusing on specific areas of the Standards. The Forum continued to expand its international reach by conducting workshops in Australia, Brazil, England, and Spain, which attracted universities and education abroad programs located in these countries.

March 2010

The Forum Continues to Grow

By 2010 The Forum membership had grown to include more than 450 member institutions, representing over 90% of the U.S. students who study abroad.


7th Annual Conference

Making the Connection: Praxis and Theory in Education Abroad was the theme of The Forum’s Seventh Annual Conference, held April 6-8, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts. Over 1,200 colleagues attended, and celebrated The Forum’s tenth anniversary

April 2011

New Editions of Forum Publications

The 4th edition of the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, the 2nd edition of the Code of Ethics for Education Abroad, and the 2nd edition of the Education Abroad Glossary were released.


8th Annual Conference

Over 1,200 colleagues attended the 8th Annual Conference, Tracing the Experience: From Inquiry to Integration, in Denver, Colorado.

March 2012

1st European Conference

410 people from 23 countries were in attendance at The Forum’s First European Conference, held on the University College Dublin campus, December 5-7. Highlights included the Opening Reception featuring an address by Michael D. Higgins, the President of Ireland, and 35 sessions on a wide range of topics related to the conference theme, “Reinventing the European Experience: Culture, Politics and Diversity in U.S. Education Abroad.”

December 2012

9th Annual Conference

More than 1,400 colleagues participated in the Forum’s 9th Annual Conference, Moving Beyond ‘It Was Great’: Student Learning and Development in Education Abroad in Chicago, April 3-5.

April 2013

Critical Incident Database Launched

The Critical Incident Database (CID) is a free tool for use by Forum member institutions in tracking critical incidents that occur while students are abroad. In addition, the CID serves as a method for tracking required information on incidents that should be reported in a member’s Annual Security Report as required by the Department of Education in compliance with the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the Clery Act). Learn more

August 2013

Professional Certification in Education Abroad Program Launched

The Professional Certification in Education Abroad program is intended for any and all colleagues in the field who want to certify their knowledge and expertise in the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad. Learn more

January 2014

10th Annual Conference

More than 1,100 colleagues participated in the Forum’s 10th Annual Conference, New and Emerging Paradigms for Education Abroad in San Diego, April 2-4.

April 2014

First Certified Education Abroad Professionals Announced

11 colleagues successfully completed the accelerated residency program at The Forum offices in Carlisle, PA. Learn more

September 2014