Fireside Dialogues

The Forum’s Fireside Dialogues foster in-depth, collegial discussion that leads to practical solutions that participants can take with them and put into action. The event brings together no more than 30 participants and leaders in an informal setting for one very full day of facilitated, collegial discussion focusing on issues of concern to the field. There is an application process to participate in a Fireside Dialogue and there is often preparatory work to complete prior to the event.

Inclusive Excellence in Education Abroad
April 8-9, 2016
Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA


The Forum is pleased to offer a Fireside Dialogue to be held in conjunction with its 12th Annual Conference in Atlanta in April, 2016. Inclusive Excellence in Education Abroad is intended for education abroad professionals seeking to assist the field to meet its diversity goals by focusing on the more encompassing concept of Inclusive Excellence.

As developed by the Association of American Colleges & Universities (AAC&U), Inclusive Excellence (IE) is the recognition that a community or institution’s success is dependent on how well it values, engages, and includes the rich diversity of students, staff, faculty, administrators, and alumni constituents. IE can serve as a “guiding principle for access, student success, and high-quality learning. It is designed to help colleges and universities integrate diversity, equity, and educational quality efforts into their missions and institutional operations.”

The Forum’s Fireside Dialogues foster in-depth, collegial discussion that leads to practical solutions that help to advance The Forum and the field as a whole. This Fireside Dialogue will bring together no more than 25 participants committed to exploration of this important topic.


This Fireside Dialogue will support The Forum’s Inclusive Excellence Working Group and its goals by exploring strategies and approaches to enhance Inclusive Excellence efforts in education abroad. Most if not all members of the Working Group are expected to participate so that Fireside Dialogue participants will be able to contribute directly to the Group’s work.

As an endeavor, education abroad celebrates learning through understanding a plurality of nations, societies, cultures and identities. How can education abroad build upon that basis and, as Ilan Stavans advocates, “follow suit with programs that help newcomers experience themselves not as aliens in these habitats but as integral to their institutions’ overall missions?”

Through open, frank dialogue led by experienced leaders in education abroad and Inclusive Excellence, participants will collaborate with members of the Inclusive Excellence Working Group to advance their efforts by exploring:

  • How we as a field define Inclusive Excellence so that it is integral to education abroad programs.
  • How our own systems have inherent—though unintentional—barriers.
  • What kind of data or research the field needs in order to understand issues related to Inclusive Excellence.
  • What resources the field needs to support Inclusive Excellence in education abroad.
  • How Standards Guidelines could contextualize and support the Standards as they relate to matters of Inclusive Excellence, and address the distinct goals of increasing access to underrepresented groups and serving different populations that participate in education abroad.


The Fireside Dialogue is characterized by highly interactive, facilitated informal discussions, based in part on advance readings and participants’ experience. The Dialogue will challenge participants to move beyond the status quo, beyond basic concepts of diversity and access, and to contribute to the production of resources designed to benefit the education abroad field. Participants should be ready to develop and implement action plans as part of setting a new standard of inclusivity.


Members of The Forum’s Inclusive Excellence Working Group will serve as facilitators of this Fireside Dialogue.


Friday, April 8: Opening discussion and introductions over dinner
Saturday, April 9: Full day of dialogue, concluding with dinner


The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA.


There is no fee to participate in this Fireside Dialogue, although participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenses.

Included upon acceptance: Dinner on Friday, April 8, and breakfast, lunch, coffee breaks and dinner on Saturday, April 9.


Participation in the Fireside Dialogue will be limited to 25 participants in order to foster in-depth discussion. Participants are required to be professionals in education abroad serving a higher education population, with substantial experience in matters related to Inclusive Excellence. Preference will be given to those who can contribute to the discussion based on their background and experience with the Fireside topic. The application deadline is has passed.