Diversity Abroad is proud to present this edition of the Global Impact Exchange in collaboration with our partners at the Stevens Initiative. Visit their website to learn more about the work they do to expand virtual exchange opportunities across the continents.

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Virtual Exchange as a Tool to Advance Equity and Inclusion

Virtual exchange has evolved significantly over the last 15 years just as technology has advanced to support a myriad of ways to connect communities across geographic locations. Many international education practitioners and educators have developed innovative approaches to virtual exchange programming from design to implementation. For the Spring 2023 Global Impact Exchange, Diversity Abroad in partnership with the Stevens Initiative invites individuals and teams working on virtual exchange to submit pieces that consider the following questions about this model’s role in advancing equity and inclusion. How can virtual exchange be utilized to increase access to international education and global learning for students/individuals who may not have access to traditional forms of education abroad programming? What are some unique challenges that virtual or digital programming have regarding equity, inclusion, or access? In what ways can virtual exchange support and accelerate global learning? How can institutions and organizations reconceptualize or reorient virtual exchange to advance students/individual’s learning around DEI competencies (e.g., engaging with difference, cultural humility)? How can virtual exchange be used as an opportunity to explore mutuality or interdependency given the bi or multidirectional flows of exchange and connections present in these programs?


A special thank-you to the Stevens Initiative for sponsoring this edition and to members of the Diversity Abroad consortium for supporting thought leadership at the intersection of global education and diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Christine Shiau |Executive Director,  The Stevens Initiative at the Aspen Institute

Christine Shiau - The Stevens Initiative

The Stevens Initiative is delighted to partner with Diversity Abroad on the spring 2023 Global Impact Exchange. Every young person deserves the opportunity to gain the skills and friendships that come from global experiences. Virtual exchange has incredible potential to make global education more accessible and equitable than ever before. At the same time, we recognize that virtual exchange faces barriers to diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) that are both perpetual and emerging within the broader global education field. Efforts like this GIE edition allow us to proactively address these challenges at a time when virtual exchange is growing and evolving. We aspire for everyone, regardless of their familiarity with virtual exchange, to gain valuable insights from this edition that will improve understanding of how this emerging practice intersects with equity and access in all areas of global learning.

We’re heartened to see the significant interest in and commitment to improving virtual exchange practice included in the response to this call for articles. Educators, scholars, and administrators are advancing the virtual field by designing programs and facilitating research that puts DEIA first, as evidenced by the programs detailed here. We’re doubly excited that this interest isn’t just from the U.S.-based individuals, but, in the spirit of exchange, that this edition includes multiple perspectives from a wide variety of international communities and identities. This edition of GIE highlights pedagogy that can be adopted across the virtual exchange field, often using specific programs as case studies. Notably, while many of these articles articulate the power of virtual exchange to reach and include many diverse participants, they also point out how far there still is to go in fully meeting the potential that virtual exchange promises.

As you read, we hope you’ll reflect on how these learnings and best practices can inform your own work. From designing programs that are inclusive of adult learners to addressing power imbalances to tackling the digital divide, these articles unpack how and why we must remain vigilant in creating a field that can avoid the pitfalls of the past and face the challenges of the future head on. We are just as inspired by the articles addressing the persistent challenges that complicate virtual exchange as we are by those which encourage its widespread adoption. While the path ahead requires significant commitment and dedication, this edition provides an optimistic view of the future of virtual exchange. By working together to address the many intersections of DEIA and virtual exchange, we can ensure that every young person has an impactful global education experience, no matter their background or identity.

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
  • Kyle Kastler | Program Manager, The Stevens Initiative
  • Haili Lewis | Program Manager, The Stevens Initiative


Table of Contents

Global Impact Exchange | Spring 2023

From Virtual Exchange to Critical Virtual Exchange and Critical Internationalization at Home


The article highlights Critical Virtual Exchange (CVE) as an inclusive framework for equitable student exchanges in higher education.

Best Practices to Effectively Engage Diverse Participants in Virtual Exchange Programming


Learn best practices from Soliya's virtual exchange experience to engage diverse participants, build partnerships, and design inclusive programming, fostering equitable learning environments.

Examining Social Disadvantage and the Institutional Limitations of Virtual Exchange


This article explores how virtual exchange (VE) can address social disadvantage and enhance educational equity in higher ed. It emphasizes the need for HEIs to support VE as an institutional strategy to prepare students for a digital global economy.

Benefits and Barriers of Virtual Exchange Programs in Libya


This article explores the benefits and challenges of virtual exchange programs in Libya, focusing on improved educational access and cross-cultural competencies, while addressing barriers like technology access and cross-cultural collaboration.

Global Learning: Virtual Exchange Between Malaysia and the US


This article describes a 6-week virtual exchange project connecting US and Malaysian students to foster diversity, equity, and cultural awareness through open-ended discussions and feedback.

International Tele-collaboration in the “Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity” World


The article highlights virtual exchange projects between Ukrainian and US business education classes, emphasizing equity and inclusion in the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world despite challenges like the war in Ukraine.

Impact of VE on Global Competence in Internationally Diverse Groups of High School Students


AFS Intercultural Programs' study shows that short virtual exchanges enhance global competence among 14- to 17-year-olds, fostering positive regard, cross-cultural communication, and relationship development.

Virtual Exchange: Practices for Engaging Diverse Students


Learn effective practices for engaging diverse students in virtual exchange programs, fostering inclusivity and empowering meaningful participation across cultural dimensions, power distance, and language proficiency.

Repositioning Students as Co-creators: A Reflective Case Study


This case study examines the Global Classroom for Democracy Innovation, a virtual exchange program that involves students as co-creators, promoting inclusive and engaging pedagogy.

Disentangling Virtual Exchange and Study Abroad Discourses in Equity and Inclusion


This opinion piece disentangles the discourses of virtual exchange and study abroad, emphasizing their distinct strengths and calling for greater equity and inclusion in both approaches.

Virtual Exchange for Preservice Teachers: A Boundary Space Where DEI Can Flourish


This article examines how virtual exchange (VE) in teacher education promotes global competencies and DEI. The IGlobal model fosters cross-cultural collaboration and cultural humility, preparing preservice teachers for diverse classrooms

Meeting in a Third Space: Possibilities for Equity and Inclusion in Virtual Classrooms


This piece discusses virtual exchanges' potential to promote equity and inclusion in virtual classrooms by centering Global South perspectives and fostering transnational collaborations among students and instructors.

Why Virtual Exchanges Matter to Students in the Global South


This article examines the impact of virtual exchanges on students in the Global South through a partnership between US and Liberian universities, highlighting the need for culturally responsive and equitable programs.

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