The Role of International Education in a Time of Crises

Daniela Kaisth, Vice President for External Affairs and IIE Initiatives, and I were honored to represent the Institute at a celebration in Berlin for the 90th anniversary of the founding of the German Academic Exchange Service, or DAAD.

Germany hosted this year’s G7, along with the summit we convene in conjunction with the G7 each year on the internationalization of higher education. This year’s summit theme was “International Higher Education Cooperation: Bridges in a Time of Crises.”

When the Germans decided to set up an exchange program over 90 years ago, they came to IIE for help and advice. We are still sharing best practices and have written several books together. Last year we released Global Perspectives on Joint and Double Degree Programs, the inaugural book in a joint series that will feature the perspectives of experienced education professionals from around the world. Volume II, Global Perspectives on Strategic International Partnerships, will be released in November of this year and will discuss new trends, models, and best practices surrounding strategic partnership building.

The Nobel laureates who founded the Institute during the interwar period thought that international educational exchange would help peacefully reshape the world. So did the professors who founded DAAD. But that was not to be, and conflicts of all sorts challenge us today. International educational organizations do help promote peace, especially in crisis situations. As Kaisth said in the latest issue of IIENetworker, education plays a vital role “in preserving leadership, stabilizing societies, and once conflict subsides, rebuilding peaceful and prosperous communities.” The world we share is made less dangerous when we promote international exchange and respond to emergencies with rescue schemes whenever they arise. Both of our organizations are doing this for Syrian students and scholars—and in other difficult places and situations.

American foreign policy these days may be challenged by how difficult it is to find these partners. In our work and field, we already have them.