Are you a study abroad professional? Are you looking for like-minded professionals who share the same challenges and frustrations as you do? Are you wondering where you can turn for some solid advice and guidance to make your institution’s study abroad programs high-quality learning experiences for your students? Ever heard of The Forum?
The Forum on Education Abroad is a nifty organization, first conceived in San Diego, California, in May 2000, by a group of education abroad professionals who felt the need for a stand-alone organization. At that time, there were study abroad programs at numerous educational institutions, yet nothing existed in terms of standardization of policies and practices. Essentially, each program was on its own, and its quality was as good as the director of the program was able to make it, given the knowledge and resources available.
From its inception, standards of good practice for education abroad have been a priority for The Forum. Beginning in November of 2002, they began to lead the development of a set of standards. They used a distinctive approach: they structured the Standards by stating each Standard, followed by a set of questions designed to be used for assessment of that Standard. The first formal edition of the Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad was published in November 2004.
The group moved quickly (history of The Forum), and by 2005, it was recognized by the US Department of Justice as the as the Standards Development Organization (SDO) for the field of education abroad. This status gives The Forum legal protection in undertaking standards-development work, and obligates the organization to exhibit “Openness, Balance, Transparency, Consensus, and Due Process in developing and disseminating standards.”
Among the variety of resources and training opportunities The Forum offers for its members and the public, a “must have” for every study abroad office is the recently published Standards of Good Practice for Education Abroad, 5th edition, 2015. This document offers authoritative and comprehensive guidelines for the development, management, assessment, and improvement of education abroad programming, in order to make students’ experiences as rewarding and meaningful as possible.
If you are a study abroad professional and are not familiar with this resource, please take a look. You will be doing yourself, your institution, and your students a big favor. As we have discussed before in this blog, meaningful intercultural experiences arise not just from being in the vicinity of an event, but from the meaning we give to those events. If we are to truly offer high-quality study abroad programs, we need to consider the pre-departure preparation, the on-going support during the time abroad, and the integration of the international experience into the life of the a student upon return home. Standards explores all these areas and more. Forum members have exclusive access to additional resources related to each Standard.
Cultural Detective salutes the work of The Forum and its ongoing efforts to promote cultural competence through well-run, ethical, study abroad programs! Cultural Detective Method and materials integrate seamlessly into all stages of study abroad—pre-departure, on-going support, and reentry— helping students to make sense of and integrate their experience.