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International Education Leaders Explore Future-Proofing Against Crises

  • Aug 16, 2022
  • Global Engagement and Strategy

Public health emergencies, geopolitical dynamics, climate change complications and industry-wide job burnout are several factors currently transforming international education.  

These challenges necessitate comprehensive planning by professionals in the field to “future-proof” against crises, according to a recent article in the International Educator, a publication of NAFSA: Association of International Educators.  

In the article, Sonia Feigenbaum, senior vice provost for global engagement and chief international officer at The University of Texas at Austin, addressed the topic of challenges in staff recruitment and retention. She cited the need to “recognize how critical our team members are to our university’s success. At UT Austin, we just released a strategic plan [in which] we clearly state that [our team members] provide the critical services that underpin all university operations.” 

Especially in view of the pandemic, recognition of these crucial roles has called for expanding approaches to both operations and professional development. “[P]eople are thinking differently about their career paths,” Feigenbaum said. In response, her division, Texas Global, strives to offer a variety of opportunities for promoting professional growth while supporting the organization.  

When the budget permits, team members can be encouraged to attend regional and national conferences to boost skills and network with other professionals. Staff also can enroll in courses on campus, taking advantage of tuition discounts, or participate in talent development courses offered through their human resources division. 

“We promote a culture that values personal growth, holistic well-being and community building,” said Feigenbaum. “We … recognize and celebrate the functions that are performed by the staff. And that meaningfully impacts our students, university and community.” 

The article concluded that the need to secure the future of internationalization on campuses has never been clearer. When external forces require nimbleness from educators, administrators and staff, the field as a whole is called upon to step back and take in the big picture, cultivating future skills and looking forward holistically.  

“The future is always uncertain,” said Feigenbaum, “so the idea of considering, ‘How do you prepare for an uncertain future?’ is really about, ‘How do you prepare for life?’” 

For more details on future-proofing international education, read the entire article in the International Educator.