Skip to content

News and features

Vice Provost Jeffrey Riedinger on serving as NAFSA President and Chair of the Board of Directors

Vice Provost Jeffery Riedinger

Dr. Riedinger has leadership and administrative responsibility for the University’s diverse global programming including support for international research, study abroad, student and faculty exchanges, and overseas centers. He also serves on the faculty of the University of Washington School of Law and the Sustainable Development LL.M. program. He has served in multiple leadership roles for NAFSA: Association of International Educators over the last 10 years. He currently serves as the President of NAFSA and Chair of the NAFSA Board of Directors through calendar year 2022.

An expert on the political economy of land reform, sustainable agriculture and natural resource management, Vice Provost Riedinger has carried out research in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and the Middle East. He has conducted briefings on foreign aid, land reform and other development issues for members of the White House staff, state department and USAID personnel, members of Congress, the World Bank, non-governmental organizations and private foundations. His publications include two books and numerous articles, chapters, reviews and monographs.

Tell us about this new role as President of NAFSA and Chair of the NAFSA Board of Directors. What will this involve?

NAFSA: Association of International Educators is the world’s largest non-profit association dedicated to international education and exchange. NAFSA serves the needs of more than 10,000 members and international educators at more than 3,500 institutions, in more than 150 countries.

My formal responsibilities as President of the association and Chair of the Board of Directors include:

  • ensuring the development of NAFSA’s organizational strategy, as well as policies, processes, plans and structures to support that strategy;
  • taking the lead in ensuring the long-term financial health of the association;
  • communicating the association’s direction, priorities, and positions to both internal and external audiences; and
  • ensuring excellent volunteer and staff leadership in the association.

Each of these responsibilities is daunting, the combination even more so. Fortunately, I am blessed to be working with remarkable colleagues on the Board of Directors, an extraordinary Executive Director and CEO, senior management team and professional staff, and experienced and talented volunteer member-leaders. I am doubly blessed to have an exceptional group of colleagues in the Office of Global Affairs. Their passion, professionalism and excellence make it possible for me to carve out time to serve in this volunteer member-leader role for NAFSA.

Q: What are the top three priorities for NAFSA in the upcoming year?

In 2020, as NAFSA’s Vice President for Scholarship and Institutional Strategy, I worked with the other members of the NAFSA Board of Directors to reimagine our Strategic Plan. We wanted to:

  • create a compelling and easy to remember set of strategic goals;
  • provide broad strategic direction while allowing greater flexibility for innovation and creativity by member-leaders and NAFSA professional staff;
  • signal the central importance of advancing diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice within NAFSA, the home institutions of NAFSA members, and the field of international education; and
  • reinforce the crucial and positive role of international education in addressing some of the most pressing challenges of our time, from a global pandemic to climate change, from rising nationalism and political polarization to growing income inequality and legacies of centuries-old racial and social injustice.

We distilled NAFSA’s Strategic Plan into three priorities for 2021–2023:

  • Educate. NAFSA is dedicated to educating, informing and supporting international educators throughout their careers.
  • Advocate. NAFSA will continue to advocate for public policies that lead to a more globally informed, welcoming, and engaged United States.
  • Innovate. In all that it does, NAFSA will emphasize innovation, cooperation, and effective organization.

Q: During your tenure, what initiatives are you most passionate about advancing?

In my roles at the UW and NAFSA, I believe that it is only through cross-cultural and cross-continent collaborations that we can address the world’s most pressing challenges and most promising opportunities. International educators and the field of International Education can and must help advance the cross-cultural competencies and understandings that are essential to forming such collaborations.

As part of this work, it is imperative that we work to address systemic racism and social inequities, in this country and around the world. I am extremely pleased that NAFSA added an emphasis on equity and social justice to its new Strategic Plan, building upon its ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. We are working to unleash the experience, insights, passion and compassion of our leadership and members in advancing these priorities within NAFSA, in the home institutions of NAFSA members, and in the field of international education.

Q: What do you anticipate to be one of the most challenging aspects of this new role?

The COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly harmful to the field of international education, here at the UW and around the world. International educators are not unique in having lost family, friends, and colleagues. However, the pandemic-related restrictions on travel and events have placed a special strain on our field. In turn, international education professionals have lost jobs as campus and company offices downsized staff. Many of our colleagues who are still employed have fewer resources for professional development.

The pandemic’s impact on international education also deeply affects the association. NAFSA is operating with extremely constrained resources. The Annual Conference and Expo is NAFSA’s largest source of revenue. NAFSA finances have been seriously affected by not having an in-person Annual Conference in 2020 or 2021. The reductions in international education professionals and in resources for professional development also put NAFSA membership and membership revenues under strain.

However, NAFSA and the field of international education have faced crises before. NAFSA has risen to past challenges and will do so again. I am working closely with the extraordinary people on our Board, in our volunteer member-leadership, on the Management team and professional staff, and in our membership. I am confident that together we will be able to ensure that NAFSA continues to be a vibrant leader in the field of international education when it celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2048.

Q: What will the future of global engagement look like? Give us a glimpse into the conversations at NAFSA about the future.

It is imperative that NAFSA and the field of international education are partners in the efforts to address systemic racism and social inequalities, in this country and around the world. For NAFSA this work is central to our Strategic Plan which emphasizes diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. A key element of our work will be to decolonize the field of international education.

This work will extend to offices like Global Affairs. Too many senior international professionals, particularly in the U.S., look like me: white, gray-haired, and male. We need to promote access. Specifically, we need to be more intentional and much more successful in creating welcoming pathways for under-represented students, faculty and professional staff to engage in, and to lead, international education.

This work will also extend to the content and location of study abroad programs. U.S. students have typically studied abroad in “traditional” locations such as the United Kingdom and Europe. Relatively few U.S. students have opportunities or choose to study in “non-traditional” locations, particularly low-income countries. Few of the programs in the traditional locations have explored the colonial legacies of the countries in which they are situated. It will be similarly important to build such content into programs in non-traditional locations, particularly countries that are former colonies.

NAFSA has long had a set of ethical principles. With my background in international research, I look forward to extending these principles to better reflect the ethical conduct guidelines of scholarly organizations such as the African Studies Association. In this vein, I am proud that the Advisory Council for the UW’s Office of Global Affairs has long articulated and recently updated a robust set of guidelines for global engagement.

The other domain of exciting, and overdue, work relates to sustainability. In the field of international education and in NAFSA, we have opportunities, and are challenged, to do much more to promote sustainability and address climate change. In the past, much of our focus was on international mobility of students and scholars. This will remain a core element of our work because in-person experiences can be uniquely impactful in building cross-cultural competence and understanding. Yet we know that many of the students, faculty and professional staff we serve are unable to travel across geographic borders, whether for reasons of finances, curricular barriers, or family commitments. We also know that international travel can involve a significant carbon footprint.

The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted significant technological improvements that make it easier to imagine and to implement international education in a remote learning environment. The pandemic has accelerated initiatives in Cooperative Online International Learning and demonstrated the power and practicality of virtual international education, research, internships and community engagement. And technology has made it possible to significantly increase access, connecting students, faculty, guest speakers, and members of distant communities and doing so with less impact on our climate and natural resources.

We can also expand cross-cultural learning opportunities for our students (and our faculty and staff) by creating more “study away” programming, engaging local international heritage communities and indigenous communities in more intentional, respectful, and mutually beneficial ways.

In short, despite the many challenges, I am excited about the many opportunities for enhancing the field of international education and better serving NAFSA members and the students, faculty and professional staff we serve.

Population Health: UW & Aga Khan University partnership leads to research, learning, and health collaborations

The University of Washington and the Aga Khan University have partnered substantially over the past years to advance global population health and link their institutions. Through these collaborations, students, faculty, and researchers have benefited from the shared expertise and exchange in a range of areas and disciplines.

Read more about the history and impact of this partnership and the Office of Global Affairs and Global Innovation Fund’s involvement below:


“There were a lot of synergies between our two institutions not just in terms of our social justice missions, but around the values of what this partnership holds,” Farzana Karim-Haji, director of the Aga Khan University Partnerships Office, said. “The Population Health Initiative at UW draws parallels to AKDN’s Quality of Life Initiative, where both are focused on a holistic view of improving the overall human condition from a variety of aspects in health, education, poverty alleviation, climate change, etc.”

With online learning, a new approach yields global connections

Unexpected tools are enriching the UW online learning experience and helping students connect with complex issues like human rights. UW professors are finding creative ways to build community and share knowledge.

Paulina Andrews
Paulina Andrews ’20

Paulina Andrews ‘20 is aiming for a career advocating for persons with disabilities. Paulina jumps at every opportunity to deepen her understanding of human rights issues, including a UW Study Abroad program to Jamaica organized by Professor Stephen Meyers and Megan McCloskey, where she spent time in a deaf village and with local grassroots organizations, and internships at civil rights organizations.

Last spring, Paulina was in her final quarter at the UW and excited to begin a course called Genocide and the Law with Professor Rawan Arar. Like students all over the country, Paulina was forced by the pandemic to complete her coursework from home, via Zoom. “Professor Arar was upbeat and brought a lot of energy to the class,” Paulina remembers, “but she was also real about what we were all going through. That helped me a lot.”

Determined to keep her courses meaningful, Professor Arar re-envisioned the syllabi. She offered one pre-recorded lecture for students to engage with at their convenience. The other meeting became a live discussion section so students would have more opportunity for connection and to ask questions. “I live alone,” shares Paulina, “so class time was one of my only chances to talk to other people.”

Professor Arar asked students to share artwork and written reflections on the course materials. Some curated Spotify playlists with songs relating to class topics. They engaged in visual storytelling using Flipgrid. Paulina loved the variety presented by the new class structure. Of course, there was still a lot of reading. “But there were also movies to watch and podcasts to listen to. It was a break from the usual.”

“It’s hard to express certain things through words,” says Paulina. Creating art provided a new avenue for exploring the challenging topic of genocide. “Drawing was a refreshing way to interact with the material. It was a good way of dealing with a heavy topic and what we were all going through.”Paulina's aet

Paulina’s drawing, inspired by a woman who survived genocide in Cambodia, explores the theme of silence. “She was so mad inside but never said anything. If you cover up the left side of my drawing it looks peaceful. But when you look at the whole you see her real thoughts.”

With a teaching and curriculum award from the UW Global Innovation Fund, Professor Arar has brought even more hands-on learning to her fall quarter courses.

Professor Arar
Professor Arar

While studying occurrences of genocide around the world, the class will focus on knowledge production and the role of genocide museums as institutions that are established to reclaim contested stories and preserve a people’s history. Informed by class readings, students will develop an interview protocol and engage with survivors and the ancestors of survivors.

“With Global Innovation Fund support, I’m now able to add this engaging and experiential museum project to my online course,” shares Professor Arar. She’s also delighted to be sending some hands on materials to students via mail to create a more personal connection.  “Being on Zoom for 5+ hours is really hard. I want to make a personal connection and give them something to hold on to.”

Tackling COVID-19 by supporting the global vaccine “cold chain”

With funding support from the Office of Global Affairs and the Population Health Initiative, two UW researchers are supporting partners around the world in addressing the COVID-19 crisis.

When a vaccine is available, there will be massive immunization campaigns around the world to make sure that everyone is protected. Planning must begin now to ensure that proper logistical systems are in place to support this monumental effort.

For low-income countries, a significant concern is the capacity and quality of the vaccine “cold chain”. Cold storage must be available to keep vaccines safe until administered. National assessments of the vaccine cold chain are needed as well as information systems that allow real-time reporting of vaccine stocks during the campaign.

Richard Anderson and Waylon Brunette from the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering have built an app for that – and much more. Their work strengthens IT systems run by governments and the World Health Organization to support vaccine campaign logistics. Already up and running in Uganda, the tools will soon launch in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Preparing for what’s next with study abroad

Erika Arias ‘19 could be a poster child for UW Study Abroad. During her time as a Husky, this Chelan, Washington native participated in six – count them! – overseas experiences Erika in Spainacross Asia, Europe and Africa.

Along the way, Erika’s confidence grew and she developed a deep interest in comparative politics, international relations and conflict resolution. And she is taking those passions to the next level by pursuing a PhD in political science.

Start with support

Faculty-led study abroad programs helped Erika grow as a student and find her place at the UW. Her first trip was a pre-freshman seminar in Spain with lots of extra support Erika and her fellow travelers. “We were always in groups,” she remembers, “and we had name tags.”

Erika in JapanThe next summer, she was off for Tokyo, where she partnered with UW and Waseda University students on a mini-research project on Japanese hip hop. By her senior year, she had created so many connections through study abroad that bumped into a fellow study abroad student pretty much daily on her way to class.

Sparking passion

Study abroad also sparked Erika’s interest in international development and guided her towards a double major in Law, Societies & Justice and International Studies. “It started with my program in north Africa and Southern Spain, where our classes were all in Spanish and we were focused on migration and international policy,” she shares.Erika in China

Immersive exploration of places and themes with the support of world class faculty allowed Erika to see her academic interests from many perspectives. “Each study abroad program was completely different,” Erika says, and each one offered new insight into her course of study.

Striking out on her own

“I developed a track record through study abroad… it shows I can be successful working and living outside the U.S.” Through study abroad, Erika’s confidence grew along with her knowledge and skills. On her university exchange program in France, “I didn’t know anyone, and I had to speak French to connect with people,” she remembers.Erika in Italy

Erika is now embarking on another exciting adventure – pursuing a PhD in political science at Syracuse University. “I will have to do dissertation research outside the country,” she says. “My experience as a Husky shows that I’m knowledgeable and ready.” Study abroad prepared her for what’s next.

Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Erika. Give now

Building bridges with music: UW Wind Ensemble

For Professor Timothy Salzman, “music is a universal language”. As director of the UW Wind Ensemble, he delights in helping students perfect their playing. But even more so, in using music as a pathway for connecting students with new people and experiences. Over spring break, he brought the entire 56-member UW Wind Ensemble on an unforgettable trip to China. Their packed itinerary included opportunities for hands-on learning at every turn.

The Wind Ensemble’s journey began in the city of Chengdu. Hosted graciously by partners at Sichuan University, the students played two concerts, one with an audience of 3000. Most audience members had little prior exposure to their craft. “Wind ensemble music is pretty new to most people in China,” shares Professor Salzman. “People were just taking it in.”

UW students teach kids at a "master class"
UW students teach kids at a “master class”

Moving on to the cities of Xi’an and Beijing, UW students conducted several intensive music classes for local music students, “from little kids through college age”, and played several more concerts for audiences verging on 2000 people. Performing at Tsinghua University’s spectacular concert hall was a particular highlight.

This trip to China marked a first trip outside the country for many of the musicians, including UW junior and trumpeter Jason Kissinger. The Spokane native also has Diabetes, and he was understandably concerned about successfully managing his health needs during the trip. The UW Global Travel Security Manager helped Jason plan ahead for his health needs and understand local resources before departure. And Jason stayed healthy during the trip with the support of Professor Salzman and his fellow students.

Jason Kissinger
Jason at the Great Wall

“Traveling internationally for the first time with all of the logistics associated with Diabetes was a success because of your support throughout it all,” Jason wrote to his classmates. “This was a trip of a lifetime. It has given me the confidence to have more life changing experiences in the future, and I’m excited for the world that’s out there.”

UW American Mandarin speakers and international students like doctoral student and pianist Kay Yeh helped the trip run smoothly by acting as cultural ambassadors and translators. At the Beijing airport, Kay saved the day by letting the security guard know about the insulin pump attached to Jason’s leg, which was vital for managing his Diabetes and could have been damaged during a security pat-down.

At each concert, a Mandarin-speaking student joined Professor Salzman at the podium to introduce the musical selections. To a packed audience in at Tsinghua University in Beijing, they shared his belief about music. “Music is the universal language of peace that we can all understand,” Professor Salzman announced through the student translator. “I hope our countries will be friends forever.” The crowd responded with enthusiastic applause.

Professor Salzman and students after a performance
Professor Salzman and students after a performance

This study and performance trip to China was a transformative experience for each member of the UW Wind Ensemble, as musicians and as students. Study abroad gave Jason new confidence to explore, whether his next trip is across the state or around the world. “After travelling [to China], I can truly say that the world is waiting for you. We can always look at pictures, but being physically present throws you onto a whole new level of understanding. Don’t be afraid to take those chances and experience the world!”

Global Opportunities Fund: Help us offer transformative study abroad experiences to more UW students like Jason. Give now

Chasing the butterfly dream: Zhuangzi and early medieval Chinese culture

Professor Ping Wang of the University of Washington Department of Asian Languages & Literature will give a special lecture as part of the “Culture Talk” series from the Confucius Institute of the State of Washington. She will provide further insight into the Zhuangzi. Foundational to the Taoism and considered a masterpiece of Chinese literature, the stories and anecdotes in this ancient text explore themes of spontaneity and freedom from human conventions.

CIWA Culture TalkThursday, May 23, 2019 from 4 – 5 PM
UW East Asian Library – Gowen Hall 2M
Free and open to the public

The Qi wu lun 齊物論 chapter is arguably the most important and at the same time an extremely difficult chapter from the Zhuangzi 莊子. Its enigmatic and elusive ending — the famous butterfly dream narrative— signifies something unattainable in human’s pursuit of life’s meaning and the cosmic truth.

In the centuries following the collapse of the Han Empire (202 b.c.e – 220 c.e.), Zhuangzi rose to be an essential text whose interpretations led to unprecedented explorations of cultural ideals that would ascribe meaning to the identity of the exiled Han population and, to a great extent, establish the genetics of Chinese culture. In other words, in order to understand modern China and contemporary Chinese society, we have to delve into the minds of Early Medieval Chinese thinkers. The way the educated elites lived their lives and pursued their dreams by negotiating the philosophical and spiritual dimensions of the Zhuangzi has much to teach us about our own “cultural selves.”

Open Doors: UW a leader in global student engagement

Seattle, Washington

The 2018 Open Doors Report on International and Educational Exchange names the University of Washington a leader in global student engagement. Released today by the Institute for International Education (IIE), Open Doors highlights the impact of international engagement on U.S. higher education.

Ranked 22nd in the nation among institutions awarding credit for study abroad, the UW offers leading-edge international learning opportunities that match the goals and interests of its outstanding student community. Many students study abroad on faculty-led programs, where the expertise of UW professors and a supportive community of fellow students further enhances the experience. Looking forward, UW Study Abroad is working to further increase access to global learning for all students through strategic additions to its high-quality programming and by providing specialized advising and financial support to students from communities underrepresented in study abroad.

The UW is also proud of the global diversity on its campuses, and is ranked 13th in the nation among institutions hosting international students. Global and cultural diversity among UW students, faculty and staff enhances the campus community. Hosting international students from around the world on our campuses offers students from overseas an outstanding education at one of the world’s top five most innovative universities (Reuters, 2018), and enhances the educational experience for all.  


CONTACT: Sara Stubbs, Office of Global Affairs; 206-616-8427,

Achieving the U.N. goals through education, research and collaboration

Seattle, WA

The University of Washington has joined leading universities around the world in signing the newly-launched Declaration on University Global Engagement. This effort further aligns the work of the world’s top universities with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

As a public institution with a passion for promoting the common good, our work in these domains is well underway through initiatives like Population Health, Race & Equity, and the Innovation Imperative. We are committed to expanding the societal and economic impact of our work together with partners from academia, industry, nonprofits, governments, and communities. A global hub for innovation in biotech, global health, and information technology — and home to many leading corporations and nonprofits — the Seattle region is an ideal home-base for these collaborations.

Participating universities “are committed to educating students who can successfully live and work in our globally connected world and change it for the better,” and “discovering, producing, and sharing new solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.”

“Collaboration across our state and around the world is essential to our work,” explains UW Vice Provost for Global Affairs Jeffrey Riedinger. “We are proud to help accelerate progress toward the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals through this commitment.”

CONTACT: Sara Stubbs, Office of Global Affairs; 206-616-8427,

From Japan, an award honoring scholarship and community-building

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs is honoring the University of Washington Department of Asian Language and Literature for its outstanding contributions to the promotion of friendship between Japan and the U.S. The UW is deeply and intrinsically connected to the Pacific Rim and the world. Our Department of Asian Languages and Literature embodies this spirit of global connection and collaboration.

UW CStarting in 1910 with a course on classical Japanese literature, the UW Department of Asian Language and Literature has been instrumental in the development and expansion of Japanese studies in the Pacific Northwest and across the U.S. The department also has long-standing collaborations with world-class Japanese universities, creating opportunities for faculty, students and staff to engage across barriers of culture and language.

Now offering courses exploring ancient to modern Japanese language and literature, the department is also deeply connected to our local community. These connections promote friendship across the Pacific, and share beautiful traditions such as the celebration of the blossoming of the iconic UW cherry trees.