Dr. David Wick
Dr. David Wick

Dr. Wick joined the international education management faculty in 2015; many alumni will remember him from earlier years when he taught as an adjunct professor.

What are your approaches to teaching at MIIS? 

MIIS students bring significant experience, dedication, and passion to their studies. In my teaching I seek to create opportunities for these impressive students to leverage and build upon their strengths in order to become principled international education leaders. As a professional graduate school MIIS has a distinct focus that has led me to emphasize the theory to practice loop in all of my teaching. This means that in my classes I prioritize student work and the student voice. I utilize individual reflection, think-pair-share, intentional groupings, online discussions, student-led lessons, and other strategies to have students engage with material in classes and apply what they know and what they are learning to real problems that confront international educators.

My advising practice is another part of my student-centered approach to teaching. I have integrated opportunities for individual and group consultations and conversations into my classes so that I can identify the learning needs of each student and provide specific guidance to individuals. I also choose to serve on the fellowship committee so that I can support individual students as they prepare applications for grants and fellowships that can help them to achieve their ambitions. 

You have had extensive involvement in higher ed organizations like NAFSA and Diversity Abroad. What is your advice for students and alums regarding professional networks?  

Volunteer engagement with NAFSA: Association of International Educators, Diversity Abroad, Lessons from Abroad and others provided the foundation I needed to advance in my career. International education work is complex and challenging. It has been through involvement with these organizations I have gained essential knowledge, honed my skills, and made the personal connections that I needed to advance at every stage in my career. 

In many ways it was through professional involvement that I was able to advance more quickly than would have been possible through my professional positions alone. By leading international teams of volunteers to design and deliver workshops, manage programs, or write books I was pushed to think broadly about the issues in the field and I learned to lead and act with integrity. These opportunities gave me a chance to develop leadership skills so that I would be ready when I advanced into higher leadership positions in my professional roles. 

I encourage MIIS students and alumni to find opportunities to get involved with professional organizations as early as possible in their careers. There are many possible approaches to this involvement. Serving as a proposal or scholarship reviewer, presenting posters or sessions, chairing sessions or workshops, and seeking appointed or elected leadership positions.  The best thing about this breadth of opportunity is that there are positions that are well suited to each individual’s interests and goals and there are opportunities for growth. Thus, I recommend speaking with a mentor about which type of involvement is most appropriate for you. Your mentors can be your MIIS faculty, a colleague, or someone in a leadership role that interests you.

What are the most pressing challenges the higher ed sector faces? 

Three interconnected themes have emerged in recent research with higher education presidents and other leaders: relevance, inclusion, and expense.

Lawmakers, business leaders, and individuals are actively questioning the impact or value of educational endeavors. This means that educators need to articulate powerful learning objectives that focus on preparing students for civic, professional, community, and personal success. Educators must also gather and share rich quantitative and qualitative data on student learning in each of these areas. Moreover, education has proven ineffective at disrupting structural inequities and teaching all students. With changing demographics educators must design and deliver educational programs that prepare all students from all backgrounds to thrive. Uncertainty about the impact or value of education, combined with the persistent inability to educate all students has fueled questions about costs.

These challenges directly impact the work of international educators. For example, the rhetoric around the goals and role of education abroad and international education are changing. Currently, many in the US may argue that the primary purpose of education, and thus international education, is workforce readiness. This is certainly one of the possible benefits of international education experiences, but it is not limited to that. The field must resist the urge to respond solely to this pressure and instead work to promote personal, academic, and professional development in all that we do. It will be by demonstrating the significant student learning for all students that we can justify the costs of our efforts.


What strategies can the higher ed sector employ to overcome these challenges? 

We must continue to strengthen our tools for efficiently designing and delivering significant educational experiences that benefit all students equitably and we must share these successes broadly.

International educators have a significant role to play in relationship to the above-mentioned challenges. First we need to design all our endeavors with greater integrity of mission. As the field has grown in numbers, complexity, and economic impact we can lose sight of the impact that we are having on individuals, communities, institutions and organizations.  To increase relevance for all, and to justify the expense of our programs, international educators need to begin the conversation about all programs, activities, and investments with the question; how will this foster diversity and inclusion and make the world a place in which more people can be more fully themselves and achieve their highest potential?


In the area education abroad, there is a tremendous tension between quantity and quality. These are certainly not mutually exclusive goals, but they can often appear to be at odds with one another. As participation grows we must continue to work to define and advance meaningful learning outcomes across all of our programs and program types. We need to build engagement opportunities into the entire EA process, before, during, and after the time abroad, to ensure that programs are actively, and intentionally, supporting participants to derive the most benefit possible from their time abroad. These efforts must be designed to allow all students and groups to recognize and actively confront the forces of injustice and inequity wherever they are. 

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