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Santa Clara University

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Global Engagement

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Our Work

Global engagement is about promoting diversity and cultivating curiosity about difference, as well as helping others build skills to engage in intercultural conversations.  We work with people from countries and cultures around the world on a daily basis and strive to cultivate understanding throughout the University on areas where SCU can provide a more equitable community for our international students, faculty, staff and global partners.  We know that education abroad is one of the most impactful ways that students develop understanding of their own identity and a respect for the different identities of others and we strive to bring education abroad and global programs to all students.  We know that engaging faculty and staff in global work helps to expand understanding of race and identity in a global context and that, in turn, expands SCU’s approach from a domestic multicultural approach to a truly global one. Read about our Mission, Vision, Values.

Susan Popko, 
Associate Provost for International Programs

Our Ongoing Work That Promotes Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Here are some of the key programs, initiatives and resources that we maintain to support global diversity, equity and inclusion for students, faculty and staff.

Global Engagement maintains Diversity and Identity Abroad Resources to support SCU faculty and staff leading programs abroad in departments across campus.  Diversity and Identity Abroad Resources also support students directly on programs abroad throughout the University.


We maintain a diverse portfolio of global program opportunities that address different student needs.  We assess our program portfolio each year to evaluate the range of programs available to students including evaluating: 

  • Terms, 
  • Costs
  • Challenges being away from campus, e.g., athletics
  • Summer commitments
  • Majors
  • Language backgrounds
  • Career alignment and internships
  • Goals

Our diverse global programs portfolio includes:  

  • Semester and Quarter-length study abroad; 
  • Global Explorations (faculty-led short-term programs that are typically four weeks long); 
  • Virtual programs; 
  • Undergraduate research abroad; 
  • Global engagement fellowships

Following the 2016 federal government travel bans we created Global Community Hours for students, faculty and staff in our community to come together around a global topic each term.  In 2020-21 our Global Community Hours have included: Ethical Photography Abroad, Teaching and Learning Across Time Zones, and Race in a Global Context.

Advising and expertise in intercultural issues facing international students

Santa Clara University maintains  institutional memberships in professional organizations that promulgate standards for diversity, equity and inclusion - including global diversity - in international education. All faculty and staff have access to these resources to support the development of programs abroad that align with national best practices for diversity, equity and inclusion.

These memberships include:

  • The Forum on Education Abroad, the federally designated Standards Development Organization (SDO) for education abroad which provides standards and resources for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in programs abroad.  
  • Diversity Abroad
  • The President’s Alliance on Immigration

You measure what you care about and we care about understanding how students achieve global learning from different experiences while being a student at SCU.  Global learning includes knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote  Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We evaluate global learning through: 1) the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) which is given to all undergraduate students, 2) including shared university global learning goals into the program evaluations for all student programs abroad, 3) including these same global learning goals in our International Student Exit Evaluation.  This enables us to measure how students succeed in global learning throughout their experience at SCU and compare how participation in different types of activities impacts global learning and knowledge, skills and attitudes furthering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Our regular work includes leading and developing sessions that address intercultural learning on-campus.  Examples of recent sessions include :Global Community Hours, Teaching & Learning Across Time Zones, Race in a Global Context and Ethical Photography Abroad. 

Scaffold advising focuses on study abroad goal setting and career integration. In 2019-20 we developed a new Peer Advising Program to roll-out the new scaffolded advising model. Creation of the Peer Advisor Program included: 1) hiring and training student staff, 2) shifting paper-based processes to electronic processes to improve accessibility. In 2020-21, based on student feedback, we created virtual webinars that students can access 24 hours a day; we implemented online appointments and re-built our database of students who have returned from study abroad including their programs, countries and majors so that students considering study abroad can contact them directly. For 2021-22, we are continuing to enhance the ways that we make ourselves accessible to students through holding advising meetings in departments and student community space.

Our Study Abroad “Being ‘blank’ Abroad” Series addresses identity abroad through connecting returned study abroad students with students considering study abroad in the future.  Our study abroad peer advisor facilitates these sessions which are “for students, by students” and connects students to other units across campus, as relevant.  Sessions vary each year but typically include:

  • Being BIPOC Abroad
  • Being Black Abroad
  • Being Femme Abroad
  • Being LGBTQ+ Abroad

iExchange matches new international students with volunteer SCU faculty and staff members to provide informal social and cultural interaction opportunities.

Global Engagement staff focus on continued development in diversity, equity and inclusion in their annual goals each year.  Each staff member works with their supervisor to develop an individual goal and plan for sharing with their team.

Financial access and equity is a key consideration in study abroad and global programs and it undergirds all of our thinking about study abroad.  We know that one of the reasons students may not study abroad is perceptions related to cost.  SCU believes if students can afford to study at SCU they can afford to study abroad and we maintain financial policies that promote this.  But, we provide significant advising and assistance to help students apply for additional scholarships to support study abroad.  Resources we maintain to promote study abroad scholarships include: 

Notable accomplishments in study abroad scholarships:

  • For 2021-22, we had national fellowship winners including nine Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship winners and one student won the prestigious Freeman-Asia Study Abroad National Scholarship.
  • In 2019-20, 21% of students studying abroad received an average of $4,520 each in scholarships and funding. 

Key Actions in 2020-21

We worked with the University Budget Council and University leadership to update the University study abroad budget model; moving the University toward a funding model for study abroad that better prioritizes financial accessibility to all qualified students.  In 2020-21 Santa Clara University implemented a modified version of what is referred to as the Home School Tuition Model for Study Abroad, taking into consideration SCU’s quarter academic calendar.  This has enabled us to differentiate program costs for the quarter and semester-length programs. The increased affordability and SCU’s continued commitment to allowing all federal, state, and institutional financial aid. 

We worked with the University Budget Council and University leadership to create a new financial mechanism that will enable us to provide scholarships for summer study for the first time.  The availability of scholarships for summer study abroad makes programs during the summer term more accessible to athletes, students in the sciences and others who may find that studying abroad during the academic year is not possible for them, but they require financial assistance in the summer, when full institutional financial aid is not available.

We know that communication and support to diverse students and families is one key to success in study abroad and global programs. Our Study Abroad team increased communication through: 

  • Prospective student newsletter
  • Participant newsletter
  • Family newsletter
  • Returning student newsletter 

These enhanced communications keep students engaged in international opportunities after they’ve studied abroad and contribute to successful career integration and post-graduation success.  Also, enhanced communications, particularly to families, provides support to  first-generation college students.

Our new financial literacy tools support students planning for study abroad.  In 2020-21, approximately 50% of students who study abroad are on federal, state and institutional financial aid and outside scholarships.  To reduce the number of students who withdraw from study abroad due to perceptions of financial accessibility, we developed specialized financial advising and resources, in conjunction with Financial Aid, to support potential applicants and  increase their understanding of how they can afford study abroad and/or study abroad accessibility. It has been difficult to assess the extent to which these efforts impacted increased retention of students on financial aid due to COVID-19, but we will continue to review this data on an annual basis.

Key Initiatives for 2021-22

Develop targeted outreach, advising, communication, and pre-departure orientation programming to students and families, as relevant for specific identity groups to:

  • increase applications from students in underrepresented identity groups
  • Increase confirmed participants from applicants who are accepted
  • Increase participation from confirmed participants
  • Increase support for student success abroad

Specifically, we will:

  • We will focus on increasing the number of applications from Asian undergraduate students by 10%.  This will improve alignment with the rate of Asian students on-campus enrollment.
  • Update study abroad and global programs application with gender neutral language
  • Review and update gender neutral language throughout X forms, policies and procedures.

Having access to data on students who are Pell Grant recipients will enable us to develop targeted communication to increase access to national scholarships for study abroad such as the Benjamin Gilman international scholarship and Fund for Education Abroad Scholarship


The group will review the existing web pages and resources supporting diversity and identity abroad for both students and SCU faculty/staff working with students on programs abroad and develop updated resources, as needed.

Supporting international student participation in meaningful employment is a key area in which the University can enhance access and remove barriers to international student retention and success. In the coming year International Students and Scholars will:

  • Simplify the International Students and Scholars Social Security Number (SSN) Letter of Support process to decrease administrative burden on international students who have been offered on-campus employment.  
  • Continue to strengthen our relationship with the local Social Security Administration with the goal of being able to bring the Social Security Administration representatives to SCU to provide private SSN appointments or information sessions to students.

How data is captured and represented throughout the University impacts the student identities we support and validate as an institution.  International Students and Scholars will participate in the university-wide implementation of the new student information system in Workday, and as part of that participation we will work with offices such as Information Technology, the Office of the Registrar,  Institutional Research, to create a plan to address data systems that support:  1) correct pronunciation of names, 2) and accommodate longer non-US names and addresses through expanded limits on characters, 3) the possibility of allowing diacritical marks used in non-English names.


In the coming year we will develop resources to support financial success for international students including:

  • Additional information about how the estimated expenses used on immigration documents are determined.
  • Pre-arrival advising on the availability of on-campus employment, U.S. banking and wire-transfers
  • Continuing communication on how to avoid financial scams, fraud, and phishing
  • Send students timely reminders regarding tax filing requirements.

Create a webpage that curates scholarships available to international students university-wide. Through the International Enrollment Advisory Committee, work with undergraduate and graduate areas across the University to maintain a list of scholarships for which international students are eligible and develop a process for updating annually.

As part of our on-going work to provide opportunities for intercultural learning on campus for faculty and staff we will create this new workshop for 2021-22.

What are the systemic challenges related to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in International Education?

These are some of the systemic issues related to access, equity and diversity in the field of international education we are trying to address:

International students are highly valued in the US, but sometimes that value is discussed through what they bring to US universities and students which can feel like a form of commodification.  We promote to balanced understanding awareness of the very real contributions that international students do make to our diverse, intercultural campus community 

  • Percentages of undergrad/grad international students at SCU in comparison to national International students receiving scholarships at SCU compared to national
    1. Nationally - 9.1% of undergraduates’ and 36.5% of graduates’ primary source of funding used to pay for their studies comes from their U.S. institution (Open Doors 2019/20)
    2. At SCU - 7.8% of undergraduates’ and 1.1% of graduates’ primary source of funding used to pay for their studies comes from SCU (Open Doors 2019/20)

International students contribute financially

Nationally, the discussion in US higherInternational students contribute to US colleges and universities focuses on financial contributions.  NAFSA.  Key data sources allow universities to advocate at their institutions based on financial value to the institution and economic contributions to the local community, the state, and the US economy.

International students teach US students about diversity

US colleges and universities value diversity and include it in mission statements and articulated learning outcomes.  Often, international students are included as a vehicle for “exposing” US students to different cultures and “teaching” them about the world.  While clearly there are significant benefits to be mutually exchanged from US students and international students learning from each other, framing international students as a tool or prop for providing educational attainment to US students reduces their human value and dignity of their own educational experience.


In looking at systemic issues of diversity in education abroad participation we look at the structures that promote status quo demographics:

  • Gender
  • Types of colleges and universities
  • Financial framework
  • Majors and curriculum pathways
  • Articulation of “What study abroad is” 

The history of who has access to pursuing education in another country is one of privilege.  This is true both for those in the US and those in other countries.  Traveling abroad for education is embedded in ideas of being a fully formed, cultured individual ready to participate in society.   This has been the case since the late-nineteenth century for men; and the early to mid-twentieth century for women.  

In the case of education abroad in Europe and the US, the experience of study abroad has its history in The Grand Tour.  In particular, the tradition of providing women with an experience of “culture” abroad by exposing them to language and the visual arts and architecture, was intended to prepare women for a life of being a refined wife.    You can see this history in higher education through the types of US colleges and universities that had programs abroad.  Women’s colleges like Smith College, Scripps College, Barnard College, Mt. Holyoke College, Vassar College, Bryn Mawr College, Wells College and others developed their own programs abroad.  Historically, they were always a full academic year abroad.  And, historically they were located in Paris and Florence - or sometimes places like London, Oxford, Cambridge and Bologna. It is this history that led to some of the data related to participation in education abroad that we still have today.  Since 1964, the first year that the Institute of International Education (IIE) began collecting data on US study abroad, approximately 65% of study abroad participants in the US are women and only 35% are men.  When you look at which colleges strongly supported study abroad, (elite, private, East Coast, women’s colleges), and what study abroad was designed to offer (studies in language, visual arts, humanities) it is easy to see why this was the case.  

As the demographics of US colleges and universities have changed, for example, the majority of US students major in the social sciences, rather than the arts and humanities or the sciences, the numbers of students studying abroad in the social sciences has increased, as well.   But some of the structures that reinforce the status quo remain.  These structures play out very differently at public and private universities across the US.  And, while study abroad participation at most private colleges and universities has remained over 50% for many years, most growth in national participation has come from students at public state universities who, historically, were largely excluded from opportunities for education abroad.  

But even at private universities like SCU, we contend with structural challenges that inhibit access and successful participation in education abroad opportunities.  We have articulated ways that we are working to address these above on this webpage.


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at SCU

We are part of a broader campus and global community supporting diversity, equity and inclusion.  Here is more about the resources and opportunities to get involved in this space.  

Advancing Racial Justice Dashboard

This blueprint for advancing racial justice on our campus reflects the visions, collaborations, and hard work of many. The profound impact of recent events in 2020, both in our nation and on our campus, has served as a catalyst for this dashboard to be not only a record of our work to date, but also a springboard for continuing progress.

Advancing Racial Justice Dashboard 

Ohlone History Working Group Report, July 2020

T. Shá Duncan Smith Named First V.P. of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University has hired our first professional diversity leader to guide and shape the University’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts, including: campus culture and initiatives, programming, and recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty, and staff. 

Press Release Announcement for T. Shá Duncan Smith

Alumni Identity-Based Communities

Identity-based groups connect Broncos based on their shared cultural, racial, or personal identities. These groups provide alumni of diverse backgrounds a comfortable environment for networking and socializing, as well as opportunities to honor shared heritage and experiences. All who identify or support these groups are welcome to join.

Alumni Identity Industry Groups

Community Conversations

Led by our Office of Diversity and Inclusion, these sessions provide a space for faculty, staff and students to engage.

Community Conversations

Multicultural Student Union Clubs

The Multicultural Center (MCC) is the multicultural programming body and racial/ethnic advocacy voice for the campus community. The MCC also supports 14 cultural registered student organizations.  

Multicultural Student Union Clubs