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Discrimination, Harassment, and Intolerance: Addressing an Ugly Reality at Home and Abroad

In the realm of international education and cultural exchange, discrimination, harassment, and intolerance can hinder the transformative experience of our students and our colleagues.

For the Fall 2023 edition of The Global Impact Exchange, Diversity Abroad invites abstract proposals that explore a range of topics and questions within this broader theme.

  • Cultural confrontations and misunderstandings: Investigating instances where discrimination and intolerance arise due to differences in cultural norms, values, and expectations, and proposing strategies to bridge these gaps.
  • Power dynamics and privilege: Examining how unequal power relations and privilege affect the experiences of individuals engaging in international education and cultural exchange, and exploring ways to create more equitable relationships. How do discrimination and bias in visa and immigration policies impact access and representation to international opportunities and the support students and scholars receive in the process?
  • Cultivating safe spaces and support systems: Addressing the need for robust support mechanisms, reporting mechanisms, and cultural sensitivity training to create safe environments that empower individuals to report incidents of discrimination, harassment, or intolerance.
  • Transformative potential of cultural exchange: Investigating success stories and examples of cultural exchange initiatives that have successfully addressed discrimination, built bridges across cultures, and promoted mutual understanding and appreciation.



Lily Lopez-McGee | Executive Director, Diversity Abroad  

Discrimination, harassment, and intolerance are topics that while present in international and cultural learning programs are too often avoided in pre-departure preparation, on-site-orientation, and ongoing support unless a situation arises. Eschewing these uncomfortable topics, however, doesn’t mean students (or staff and faculty) will not experience negative situations while on a program; rather, it means that we as international educators may find ourselves ill-prepared to prevent or respond to the ugly realities of the world.

In this edition of the Global Impact Exchange, the authors explore the challenges that have the potential to hinder the transformative experience of our students and colleagues and investigate various facets of discrimination, harassment, and intolerance. The goal of the publication is to shed light on the complexities surrounding these issues, addressing both the barriers that exist and the strategies that can foster meaningful intercultural engagement. The articles featured in this publication contribute to this dialogue, providing insights and recommendations for navigating the intricate landscape of international education.

As you explore these articles, I invite you to consider some questions about how these uncomfortable but real realities may show up in your own work.

  • How can educators, particularly those from the local cultural context of an education abroad program, play a role in reshaping power dynamics to create more equitable and inclusive cross-cultural exchanges?
  • How do different interpretations of what constitutes inappropriate language impact engagement and conversation with students from different national/cultural backgrounds?
  • What insights can be gained from student experiences in effective communication and collaboration across diverse backgrounds?
  • How can these insights be applied to enhance intercultural communication skills among educators and professionals?
  • What role do cultural conflicts play in hindering or enriching the transformative potential of cultural exchange initiatives?

As you read through contributions from the authors, I encourage you to reflect on these questions and consider how the insights shared can contribute to your own understanding of the complex issues surrounding discrimination, harassment, and intolerance in international education. While we cannot avoid discomfort in international programming - after all engaging with difference can be hard - we can bring difficult and unpleasant topics into our conversations to ensure we are not caught off guard or papering over the challenges that individuals may face. Let the insights shared within these pages not merely serve as endpoints but rather stepping stones toward a more comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted challenges posed by discrimination, harassment, and intolerance in international education.

Please share your reflections and ideas with us at [email protected]. We also invite Diversity Abroad members to join the conversation on our online community forums.


Editorial Board

The main task of the Editorial Advisory Board is to review article submissions for the Diversity Abroad Quarterly publication. While not a peer-reviewed academic journal, the Diversity Abroad Quarterly publication compiles articles to advance domestic and international conversations around diversity, inclusion, and equity in global education with respect to the thematic focus identified each quarter.

  • Helena Gillespie | Professor Of Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, School of Education & Lifelong Learning, University of East Anglia
  • David Wick | Associate Professor, International Education Management, Middlebury Institute of International Studies


Table of Contents

Global Impact Exchange | Fall 2023

Communicating and collaborating across difference. What can we learn from students? | GIE Fall 2023


Communicating and collaborating across difference. What can we learn from students? | GIE Fall 2023

Bridging the Gap: Navigating Cultural Conflicts | GIE Fall 2023


This article is to examine examples of cultural conflicts resulting from cultural differences and explore strategies for effective cross-cultural communication in order to help college students deal with them effectively.

Identity & Cancel Culture in a Mexican Study Abroad Context | GIE Fall 2023


Explore a case study about intercultural communication and conflict in a small program in Mexico.

Transforming Power Dynamics in Cross-Cultural Exchanges | GIE Fall 2023


In this article, we approach the concept of “global engagement at home” to describe what it means and how it can expand opportunities for underrepresented students through international collaboration.

Navigating Diversity: Insights from the Global Education Student Experience Survey | GIE Fall 2023


This article explores findings from Diversity Abroad's Global Education Student Experience Survey (Fall 2022), revealing challenges faced by students abroad. Notably, over half felt stereotyped and isolated, emphasizing the urgency to address cultura

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