The following is a reflection by Ted Carroll, ACPA's Team Lead for Career & Global TREKS, who attended the Second Global Summit on Student Affairs and Services in Rome, Italy.
Last month, I had the great fortune of representing ACPA at the Second Global Summit on Student Affairs and Services in Rome, Italy. It was a terrific opportunity to meet colleagues from around the world, and Rome was a fantastic venue. The meeting was organized by the International Association of Student Affairs and Services (IASAS), NASPA, and the European University College Association (EUCA). The first Global Summit was held two years ago in Washington, DC, and it was encouraging to see that participation had increased in Rome. The main themes of the conference were “Employability, Competences and Global Civic Engagement”. While discussing these issues with attendees from over 25 countries, two important takeaways for our profession became very apparent.
First, the major challenges that we face in higher education in the United States, including access and affordability among others, are shared in higher education systems around the world. The financial crisis of 2007-2008 impacted developed and developing countries alike and higher education systems, regardless of historical and cultural contexts, have had to adjust. Just as American universities are under increasing pressure to boost the employment prospects of their graduates, so too are universities abroad. A major focus of the meeting was on the need to provide students with soft skills (such as networking and public speaking) that help them in the job search and professional growth process. Global civic engagement is a key component of this, as intercultural understanding and communication are increasingly valued by employers across all academic fields.
The second major takeaway from the conference is that the student affairs profession, more than ever before, is well placed to improve student employability and global civic engagement. In addition, the opportunity and responsibility to address these challenges lies not with only one or two subfields of student affairs. Rather, everyone has an important role to play. The work of every ACPA Standing Committee and Commission matters on a global scale. We tend to think of our day-to-day routines in student affairs as mainly being local, when in fact they have global dimensions as well. More of our students come from outside of the United States, and more of our students will have international work opportunities after they graduate in the future.
I look forward to working with ACPA’s members everywhere as we continue to position the student affairs profession to meet the challenges of our increasingly interconnected world.