Fall Critical Conversations’ success inspires a spring series

January 29th, 2021   |   Critical Global Issues, School for International Training, SIT Graduate Institute, SIT Study Abroad

I appreciated the chance to join the series, it guided and broadened knowledge and dialogue on interdisciplinary topics in international education.

During the fall 2020 semester, School for International Training (SIT) launched the Critical Conversations Webinar Series, an interactive online seminar designed to inspire community-wide dialogue on the most Critical Global Issues of our time—challenges that transcend borders and touch every human on the planet.

The semester-long series brought together more than 1,000 participants, including SIT faculty, staff, and alumni around the world, as well as World Learning subject-matter experts. The webinars drew attendees from 275 organizations, institutions, and universities, including 176 US colleges and universities and 10 international universities. Each week participants explored a different Critical Global Issue through a variety of virtual events including faculty lectures, virtual open houses, and alumni panels. The most popular week of the series coincided with International Education Week in November with sessions focused on Education & Social Change.

Mory Pagel, SIT executive director of institutional relations and strategic partnerships, saw the strength in the series’ virtual nature. “The Critical Conversations webinar series provided a platform to engage with our communities—partner schools, students, alumni, and others—at a time when in-person events were not possible,” he says. “For us, it has been an important way stay connected to our network of partners and continue the conversations about some of the most pressing issues affecting communities around the world today.”

The virtual format also allowed SIT to easily record and share the webinars for those who were unable to attend the events in real time. Recordings of many of the sessions are now available to view on the Fall 2020 Critical Conversations website.

For us, it has been an important way stay connected to our network of partners and continue the conversations about some of the most pressing issues affecting communities around the world today.

Feedback on the series was overwhelmingly positive and participants particularly enjoyed the faculty lectures, which introduced each topic and drew on expertise and perspectives from the Global South.

Prospective SIT student Teawan Gausi liked that the series offered an integrative approach to critical issues. “I appreciated the chance to join the series, it guided and broadened knowledge and dialogue on interdisciplinary topics in international education,” Gausi says.

In addition to exploring pressing world challenges, the series gave attendees an opportunity to learn more about SIT and the institution’s educational philosophy.  

“I attended [the Critical Conversations series] because I wanted to expand my knowledge of SIT programs and their Critical Global Issues framework,”  says Katie Sabo, senior study abroad coordinator from the University of Arkansas. “I found the program open house sessions and alumni spotlights particularly insightful for my advising role and can’t emphasize enough the value of learning about programs and student experiences first-hand.”

Building on the success of the fall webinars, SIT will launch another iteration of the series in spring 2021. Pagel is excited to offer additional ways for members of the SIT global community to learn from different perspectives and move the conversation forward on these important issues.  “Our spring series, with more than 40 planned sessions, will include a continuation of our Perspectives from the Global South faculty lectures, a wide variety of virtual events for participants to experience an SIT program, and sessions featuring distinguished alumni,” he says.

SIT expects to announce more information about the Spring Critical Conversations series in early February. Check back soon for details!