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Catching up with The Asia Institute’s Academic Lead Ann Hubbard


The Asia Institute is pleased to add Ann Hubbard to its education abroad team to oversee academic and integrated learning for short-term faculty-led and internship programs. Many of you know Ann, as she has been working in the field of international education for over 30 years and brings a deep understanding of both the on-campus and provider services in education abroad. Previously, Ann Hubbard was the Director of Study Abroad at the University of St. Thomas (MN) for 20 years, followed by 9 years as Vice President at AIFS. The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.


Q: How has the field of international education changed over the years?

A: There are so many more types of programs available to students than when I started in the field.  Collectively, we have made progress to encompass more disciplines, especially with faculty-led programming.   We’ve made progress in understanding the programming elements that promote intercultural learning – that it needs explicit attention and requires facilitation. Global events, as well as changes in higher education have always impacted international education – both with regard to how we view its importance and to student mobility.  Certainly, the pandemic has prompted more change than any of us could have imagined.  Everyone seems to agree that virtual is here to stay, but that we need to move forward carefully so as to not look to it as a substitute for mobility, and thus further stratify access. Collectively, we are more conscious of sustainable practices in education abroad, and that we must consider the environmental impact of our travel and activity.

Q: You completed your Ph.D. in higher education internationalization. What was the focus of your dissertation?

A: My dissertation examined study abroad and employability – and assessed whether a short reflection session helps students improve in how they talk about the transferable skills gained from learning abroad.  Students rightly use positive superlatives to describe their study abroad, but need to say more than that to potential employers.  A number of education abroad offices offer a “Marketing Your International Experience” course to students, often in collaboration with their Career Services colleagues.  Even after a one-hour session, my research indicates a significant improvement in the way students identified and speak about their skills in anticipation of a job interview.  I am aware that staff are already overstretched, but helping students through this process makes a big difference.  It seems there is a lot of pressure on higher education to make employability a priority – so international educators need to help make it known that learning abroad contributes to that end.  I recently compiled a Foundational Reading List with Marty Tillman on Study Abroad & Employability for Gateway International.  It includes the key publications that have informed us on this topic in recent years.

Q: Can you speak about your extensive involvement with The Forum on Education Abroad and NAFSA?

A: I have served on the NAFSA Trainer Corps and as a NAFSA Academy Coach.  Both have been great opportunities to meet others, and share and learn new ideas and practices.  With The Forum on Education Abroad, I have been a QUIP Reviewer for nearly 10 years (which means I needed to obtain the Certification more recently).  I am a workshop facilitator and a peer reviewer for the Frontiers journal.  I have been part of five QUIP review teams, and I really enjoy understanding how universities assess their education abroad programming and analyzing how they might implement best practices, solve challenges and achieve their goals.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with institutional partners to create engaging learning programs?

A: It is so enjoyable to help campus-based colleagues provide programming for their students.  We are all working to expand global learning. At The Asia Institute, I see very creative program topics being offered, which examine an Asian country or topic in a global context.  Just as my junior year in France set a path for me to always want to be seeking to expand my knowledge and learn more about the world, I want to help foster that in today’s students.

Q: How can institutions encourage more students to explore education abroad opportunities in Asia?

A: There are a number of U.S. institutions that send large groups annually with The Asia Institute.  These schools have identified topics for faculty-led programs in Asia that are interesting and very relevant to the U.S. and the world. Asia is a leader in a number of global markets, including digital technology, and it is important that we ensure a workforce ready to engage in the world. I am of the opinion that a variety of program types – including length, topic, destinations  – can help us reach more students, and that includes virtual offerings.