• Photo of ad from Diversity Abroad conference program

Duke Students Challenge International Educators to Consider Questions About Diversity Abroad

What Should International Educators Be Thinking About?

GEO asked student groups on Duke’s campus with a stake in issues of diversity abroad to anonymously submit questions and discussion prompts for the international education community. The questions will be shared with attendees at the annual Diversity Abroad Conference in March 2017. Here are some of the topics Duke students addressed:

Questions & Discussion Prompts from Duke Students

  • Is Study Abroad financially accessible for all? Consider not just the programs, but also travel expenses, etc.
  • How are universities helping students understand the different ways in which race and diversity is understood across the globe?
  • Why is Latin America so under-represented from a cultural/heritage perspective?
  • Come up with a policy on educating students on colorism abroad. And how to guarantee that this training is held for ALL those who seek it. Meaning if students are not required to take it, students should be asked if they would like to learn more about it, rather than guessing by their complexion whether or not to recommend it. Mixed race or white-passing people of color will also benefit greatly from this type of training. Although I think making it mandatory would be the best option.
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How do we ensure that study away experiences go to those who will benefit the most?
  • Low income students, students of color, and first generation students are statistically most often the students who receive low grades and get placed on academic probation. Academic probation prohibits students from participating in abroad programs. Does this further increase the lack of diversity in abroad programs? Should the university continue to further punish students for coming from marginalized backgrounds?
  • What is the best way to handle street harassment while abroad?
  • Often, very few students in a group are expected to carry the burden of “diversity” based on their race or religion. How will you avoid tokenizing them and compromising their educational experiences?
  • How could the interests of underrepresented students in exploring a city or location be different than other students?
  • What is GEO doing to educate students about the history between U.S. imperialism and neocolonialism in some of the countries students visit (e.g. countries in Latin America)? Are students taught to think critically about the real issues facing some of the communities they visit? Do students realize that “seeing” and “experiencing” a culture is not the same as understanding it?
  • How can we better help students financially?
  • What is the image of Study Abroad that is traditionally portrayed? Does this experience represent all types of students?
  • Especially for race, what are universities doing to understand the different dynamics that this dimension plays in Latin America? How are universities preparing students for these scenarios? Is it only a matter of “be prepared if they treat you differently” or is understanding the history and why race is not the same in other places important?
  • Do the nature of projects in Latin America perpetuate a ‘poverty’ or 'white saviour’ perception by students?
  • How can one create a supportive group dynamic amongst those studying abroad. Division between POC and white persons on a program occurs when there is not a supportive environment. How can trust be cultivated in a group so as to create allyship early on?
  • What is the policy for students who are sexually assaulted abroad and want to leave their program? I’ve heard that dropping out means they cannot come back to Duke.
  • I chose not to study abroad in a majority brown/black country with Duke because I knew the classes there would be taught from a white perspective. How are you incorporating local knowledge and teaching methods into the curriculum?
  • Is there a space in this global education program for underrepresented students to maximize their experience?
  • What is GEO doing to educate students about White Savior Complex? About their relationship to the places and people they visit? Are students taught about issues revolving cultural fetishization?
  • How can we spread knowledge about study abroad opportunities?
  • What can we do to promote Study Abroad as an attractive option for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, campus involvement, or financial status?
  • What can universities do to allow students from different socio-economic statuses to have equally valuable experiences abroad?
  • What view does the host country have of black, asian, latinx, etc. people? How do they treat these groups? And where (socio-economically, job-wise, etc.) are these types of people in the society of the host country?
  • Should students take into account the risks that may stem from their identity when selecting an abroad program or destination?
  • Is your study abroad program disrupting the host community? How are you making students aware of their impact? How are you encouraging them to limit the disruption?
  • Is the feedback of underrepresented students taken into account and properly amplified to counter the lack of numbers?
  • What is GEO doing to encourage students to think critically about how they are socially situated within the countries they visit? Do students even realize how problematic it is to take pictures with young “African” children and post them all over Facebook? I’ve seen too much of this from students’ experiences abroad.
  • How can we convince underrepresented students that they are safe when traveling?
  • Should we encourage students to travel to more diverse places? Should we encourage students to travel to their countries of origin or to a new place? Is diversity in location/destination important too?

For additional information about this survey, please contact globaled@duke.edu.