Living Change: Education Abroad in 21st Century Europe

Europe is ever-evolving, redefining itself as a community of nations, as a shared economic entity, as a source of common cultural capital. Contemporary Europe is facing enormous pressures of social, political and financial crises, to an extent not witnessed since World War II. U.S. students confronting this moment in European history are living through a time of change and transformation.

The theme of The Forum on Education Abroad’s 3rd European conference explores how U.S. education abroad defines Europe, and how European education abroad partners define Europe to visiting U.S. students, so that students may appreciate the past, understand the present and anticipate the future of the most popular education abroad destination.

How do present-day European realities influence U.S. education abroad? How do U.S. students perceive present-day Europe? How do their European education abroad experiences deconstruct their expectations? How can international educators encourage students to develop a better understanding of present-day Europe?

How can international educators express a shared culture that is at once the foundation of accumulated history and cultural knowledge and at the same time changes as each nation responds to current issues?

The conference will address the interests of education abroad administrators and faculty who work and teach in Europe, as well as colleagues from the U.S. who work with European programs and universities. The common goal of the conference will be to share ideas for model practices for U.S. education abroad in Europe in light of the conference theme, including program design and curriculum, teaching, and a wide range of issues and topics.

Conference sessions will maintain the distinctive format of Forum conferences by promoting collegial dialogue and the lively exchange of ideas through attendee participation. Preference will be given to sessions that offer several perspectives on a topic, rather than a single personal or institutional view. The European conference is intentionally smaller in scale and shorter in duration than The Forum’s annual conference.

The Forum encourages session proposals from international education and faculty colleagues with experience in and knowledge of U.S. education abroad in Europe. Topics of interest include:

  • Europe is undergoing a period of enormous transformation. What are the specific challenges and opportunities this presents for U.S. students?
  • What are education abroad’s best practices in the European context?
  • Building cultural capital: how can we encourage students to construct an understanding of Europe which comes from engagement with a society rather than simply visiting a country?
  • How does the trend towards short-term programming affect the potential for integration and student development?
  • Multi-country programs in Europe: how can we build a strong academic and intercultural thread binding multiple countries together in a single program?
  • Mind-sets and the media, the agora vs the soundbite: how can European educators help U.S. students understand the different starting cultural points for public exploration of topical issues?
  • How can we attune U.S. students to the European perspectives on the challenges facing present-day Europe?
  • How can we encourage the transferability of the European experience into academic growth, personal development, and employment opportunities?
  • Outcomes of education abroad in Europe: how has the European education abroad experience benefited students in terms of career, intellectual development, and personal development? Alumni panelists are welcome.
  • How can international educators best address the student’s integration into the host university, country, and continent?
  • European history and contemporary European politics: how can U.S. students best be engaged in the relevance of these topics to the globalized world?
  • Outcomes assessment in the European context: how do we establish and assess learning outcomes, especially when cultural expectations of assessment differ?
  • How should we address the challenges related to financing education abroad in Europe?
  • What are the specific challenges and best practice approaches to student health, safety, security and risk-management in 21st Century Europe?


Session Proposal Tips and Suggestions

What makes a session proposal work?

  • Diverse points of view and multiple voices on the session topic: this can mean different institutions and organizations, and/or types of education abroad colleagues and partners, or contributors from outside the field of education abroad;
  • A plan for creating an interactive atmosphere that stimulates dialogue or small group discussions among attendees;
  • Ample time for comments and/or questions from the attendees;
  • A topic that clearly relates to the conference theme;
  • A balance of theory and practice;
  • Concrete conclusions: sessions offering specific tips and tools, applications of theory, or lessons learned provide valuable ‘take-aways’ for colleagues;
  • Consideration for the different constituencies in education abroad;
  • Demonstrated professionalism, preparation, and personality.

What doesn’t work?

  • Panels that focus on the accomplishments of only one institution, organization, or program;
  • Panels of more than 4 presenters;
  • Proposals lacking planned audience engagement and interaction;
  • Reading scholarly papers.



Proposals are no longer being accepted for the 3rd European Conference.