Encompassing all voices: the 2019 Conference Conversation Starter

Encompassing all voices: the 2019 Conference Conversation Starter Helsinki 2019

It’s that time of year again: the Annual EAIE Conference is upon us. Are you ready with the essentials? Registration? Check. Travel documents? Check. Hotel booking? Check. Conference Conversation Starter? As of today: check!

The 2019 EAIE Conference in Helsinki is nearly upon us, and as you prepare to travel, network, and learn with us, we hope you’ll also take full advantage of the opportunity to reflect purposefully on the theme that brings us together this year: ‘Encompassing all voices’. To inspire you and to whet your appetite for discussion in Helsinki on all the ways that matters of voice, identity and inclusion require our urgent attention, this week we’re launching the 2019 Conference Conversation Starter.

Considerations of ‘voice’ span many dimensions. The perspectives of individuals on these questions are vital; so, too, are the ways that institutions, higher education systems, political entities and policymakers understand and operationalise matters of identity and mechanisms for inclusion (or, sadly, sometimes exclusion). The Conference Conversation Starter endeavours to tackle these complex dynamics by offering up seven original essays organised into three distinct sub-themes:

  1. European perspectives on diversity and inclusion
  2. The student voice in internationalisation
  3. Leveraging diversity in our midst

As suggested by the titles, each sub-theme provides a space for considering the notion of ‘encompassing all voices’ from distinct perspectives and levels of analysis. Each essay includes a short list of discussion questions that we hope will encourage readers to reflect on many of the key issues and ideas raised by the contributors. Taken together, our authors offer everything from empirical data to policy discourse, passionate pleas for social action and compassionate guidance for taking personal responsibility for diversity and inclusion.

So, what does this really add up to for each of us? Hopefully, the ideas explored in this publication both raise our awareness about the diversity of perspectives around us and sharpen our resolve to engage widely and authentically with those perspectives. In the work that we undertake daily in international higher education, we face choices, challenges, and opportunities. Expanding our understanding of the multitude of realities around us – and the complexity of identities that comprise our institutions, our societies, and even ourselves – will strengthen our capacity to deliver high-impact international education programmes and experiences. The benefits that can result from this kind of commitment to ‘encompassing all voices’ have the potential to play out in remarkable and far-reaching ways, as our various authors artfully argue.

To get us started on the road to Helsinki, we’re featuring this week on the EAIE blog the voices of several authors who have important and unique messages to convey with respect to the story of identity and inclusion in relation to international higher education in Europe. For example, the experiences of refugees and the Roma people, which will be the topics of two of the upcoming blog offerings this week, offer powerful examples of the issues at hand. We’re also happy to announce that a number of the Conference Conversation Starter authors – such as Anna-Lena Claeys-Kulik of the European University Association; the EAIE’s own Rainbow Task Force members; and conference plenary speaker, Aminata Cairo – will be actively involved in sessions and events during the conference, including an up-close-and-personal campfire session on the Conference Conversation Starter itself. These sessions will give us all an opportunity to connect with and explore these ideas in greater depth.

The work of encompassing all voices in international higher education is hugely challenging, but ultimately integral to the EAIE’s commitment to the values of collaboration, inclusion, inspiration, and excellence. To get started thinking on those values and how they figure into this year’s conference, EAIE members can download the Conference Conversation Starter from our website, and non-member attendees can do so via the EAIE Events App. All those attending will also receive a print copy in their conference bag.

We look forward to seeing many of you in Helsinki next month and to working together to advance this vital agenda.

Get the conversation started

Keen to start thinking about inclusion in the lead-up to the EAIE Conference? Download the free introduction, or become a member for full access to the Conference Conversation Starter and the rest of the EAIE resource library.

Laura E. Rumbley
EAIE, the NetherlandsLaura is Director, Knowledge Development and Research, at the EAIE.