Unintended consequences of well-intentioned people: effects of system and process on diverse student mobility



As international educators we embrace diversity and pluralism. The recent rise of populism and nationalism in many countries challenges our collective international education values and poses a threat to the opportunities available to our students. Yet as we look to external threats to our collective worldview, we may overlook the more prosaic but consequential barriers imposed by the policies, processes and systems of our own invention at our own institutions. Our actions, from the way we frame student mobility opportunities to the requirements we set for applications to programs, can disproportionately and adversely affect the diverse communities we are simultaneously seeking to engage. A case study from the University of Minnesota will highlight the challenges and responses of the Learning Abroad Center in ensuring that outbound student mobility is reflective of on-campus student demographics. The case study will cover more than a decade’s worth of development at the university in sustaining diverse student participation.

This e-poster will provide you with an understanding of the factors that may unintentionally discourage non-majority students from participation in study abroad.

Mr Brook Blahnik

Assistant Director – Systems Management

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities

Brook Blahnik is Associate Director for Systems Management at the Learning Abroad Center, University of Minnesota. He oversees outbound student operations for more than 4000 students annually. His work includes advising and enrolment system management, data systems management, general office leadership, policy, budgets, data analytics and enrolment reporting. He also leads the Global Campus Partner team, overseeing more than 50 faculty-led programs sending more than 500 students overseas annually. He holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Boston College.