Students at the Margins and the Institutions That Serve Them - A Global Perspective

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Oct 10, 2014
by Jonathan Elbaz
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Students at the Margins and the Institutions That Serve Them - A Global Perspective

Session to spark first ever international dialogue in the field Session co-chair Michael Nettles speaking at "Optimizing Talent" session in 2012

Salzburg Global will host a session October 11 to 16 examining higher education institutions worldwide that serve marginalized students.

In partnership with Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions and Educational Testing Service, and sponsored by the Kresge Foundation‘Students at the Margins and the Institutions that Serve Them: A Global Perspective’ will bring together more than 50 leaders, researchers and policy makers to the first large-scale international dialogue about such institutions.

Dozens of organizations worldwide work to increase educational opportunities and support for students marginalized on the basis of ethnicity, race, religion, gender or language. Examples include minority serving institutions in the U.S., “Historically Disadvantaged Institutions” in South Africa, Universities Australia, and institutions in Brazil and China.

Still, no global network exists for those institutions to consider common challenges and to collaborate. 

Fellows from 21 countries and six continents will convene at Schloss Leopoldskron for five days of discussion. Key objectives include developing a common taxonomy, uncovering similar issues across nations and cultures, and creating a framework for sharing solutions and future research. 

Marybeth Gasman, Director of the Penn Center and session co-chair, was inspired to partner with Salzburg Global after she participated in the 2010-2012 seminar series, ‘Optimizing Talent: Closing Educational and Social Mobility Gaps Worldwide.’

Though Gasman’s Penn Center focuses specifically on U.S. institutions, she realized that the challenges they face are analogous to those of organizations around the world. Such challenges include acquiring adequate funding, increasing access to students, and ensuring success after enrollment.

“Everyone will have different ideas depending on the context of their country” Gasman said. “We can challenge each other and support each other’s efforts. We can also identify commonalities and learn from one another.”

Before the session, selected participants wrote short essays that will serve as the basis for discussion. The essays and major conclusions from the session will be compiled in a report, published by the Penn Center, that outlines the framework for continued research and exchange.

The U.S. has a long history of serving minorities in higher education, first with historically black colleges and universities—once the only higher educations outlets for freed African Americans. The U.S. also serves minorities through tribal colleges and universities, hispanic serving institutions, and Asian American & Pacific Islander serving institutions.

Organizations around the world are meanwhile grappling with the same objectives and challenges as their U.S. counterparts.

Salzburg Global has studied higher education policy dating back to the beginning of the Seminar. The "Universities Project" in the 1990s looked at higher education reform in post-Soviet countries, while the "Optimizing Talent" session—another partnership with Educational Testing Service—investigated strategies for eliminating gaps in educational and social mobility.


The session "Students at the Margins and the Institutions that Serve Them: A Global Perspective" is being conducted in partnership with Educational Testing Service and Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions. You can follow all discussions on Twitter with the hashtag #SalzburgMSI and read all our coverage on the session page: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/537

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