This year, Boston College is marking International Education Week with a monthlong observance centered on the theme "Exposing the Fault Lines: Embracing Social Justice in the Wake of a Crisis." While COVID restrictions require the events to be held virtually, organizers say they hope the programming will encourage members of the BC community to consider how they might respond to current social and economic challenges in keeping with the University’s Jesuit commitment to social justice.

“It was difficult not to take into account our current context when developing this year's theme, with a global pandemic, political divisions, and the continued rise of the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Office of International Programs and McGillycuddy-Logue Center for Undergraduate Global Studies Director Nick J. Gozik, co-chair of BC’s IEW committee “Our goal was to find a way that Boston College, as a preeminent Jesuit university, could help to make sense of the current context, while also proposing solutions to address the needs of those who have been most negatively affected, including marginalized communities.”

Events planned during IEW will consider the role that governments, institutions, and individuals alike may play in addressing inequities and inequalities along racial, ethnic, gender, socioeconomic, and other lines.

Among the noteworthy events is a November 11 panel discussion on “A View from Seattle, Washington: Navigating the Conversation” featuring Jacqueline Helfgott, director of the Crime & Justice Research Center at Seattle University, and Chief Carmen Best (Ret.), former Seattle Chief of Police. Moderated by Mimi McNealy Langenderfer, assistant director of Global Leadership Institute at Boston College, the conversation will offer insight into the intersection of Black Lives Matter, ongoing police reform, calls for defunding the police, and the resignation of the city’s first Black female chief of police, as well as how Seattle U., a Jesuit institution, partners with the local community to address social justice issues.

Also on November 11 will be a discussion on “Vaccines for COVID-19: Delivery and Access” hosted by the COVID-19 Working Group of the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (SACRU) that will feature Connell School of Nursing Assistant Professor Nadia Abuelezam along with experts from Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and Australian Catholic University.

BC’s international students will talk about the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on society, racial, and social justice movements in the U.S. and abroad, and U.S. immigration policies and politics for a November 11 panel discussion titled “A World in Crisis: International Student Perspectives from Here & Abroad.” The panel will be moderated by Erik Owens, director of the International Studies Program.

"We hope that faculty, staff, and students who participate in IEW events will hear new and different perspectives on critical topics that perhaps they are not getting in the news or on social media,” said IEW Committee co-Chair Adrienne Nussbaum, associate dean and director of the Office of International Students and Scholars. “By having the opportunity to engage in these dialogues and listen to these diverse voices, they can then reflect on their own attitudes and experiences in a new light, and on how they can work collectively across these communities towards appropriate solutions for these ongoing disparities.” 

Several events will focus on borders and migration, including the Center for International Higher Education’s panel discussion “Education and Displacement: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Strategies for Social Justice” on November 11 and “The U.S.-Mexico Border: Addressing Wounds along a Faultline” on November 12.

The CIHE panel will feature presentations by three education researchers focused on pressing educational equity issues: how COVID is impacting refugee education in Turkey; how U.S. states center refugees, asylees, and Temporary Protected Status holders in higher education policy; and how politics in a pandemic year are impacting DACA students.

The event focused on the U.S.-Mexico border will be moderated by McGillycuddy-Logue Fellows Abbey Iafolla ’22 and Peyton Wilson ’22 and will examine the challenges posed by the pandemic for immigrant communities already grappling with disparities in resources, rights, and welfare.

Established in 2000 by the U.S. Departments of State and Education, International Education Week celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. The initiative promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences. At Boston College, IEW has been a time set aside to emphasize the importance of increasing knowledge and awareness of the world's cultures, peoples, and languages, and affirms the critical role international education plays at the University.

IEW 2020 is a collaborative effort organized by an array of departments and offices at Boston College, under the direction of the Office of International Programs and the Office of International Students and Scholars. To see the full slate of events and find event times and registration details, visit

Kathleen Sullivan | University Communications | November 2020