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October Globally-Engaged Teaching Workshop

Save The Date!

October 19, 2022 / 2:00-3:30 PM PT

The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) in collaboration with the Office of Global Affairs (OGA) is offering a workshop for UW faculty.

The goal for the workshop is to encourage and support globally-engaged, inclusive, and culturally-responsive teaching for UW faculty. We will share best practices and explore effective teaching methods to meet the diverse needs of UW’s international student populations. Faculty are encouraged to join and learn practical ways to create an inclusive learning environment for all students, including those with international backgrounds.

Workshop facilitators:

  • Dana Raigrodski, Associate Teaching Professor, School of Law
  • Felipe Martinez, Executive Director, CIRCLE and Lecturer, College of Education
  • Anita Ramasastry, Professor and Senior Advisor, Office of Global Affairs
  • Wei Zuo, Instructional Consultant, Center for Teaching and Learning
  • Chrishon Blackwell, Director, Global Engagement, Office of Global Affairs


Dr. Samuel Wasser, OGA Advisory Council member, receives 2022 Lowell Thomas Award

Dr. Samuel Wasser
Dr. Samuel Wasser

The Office of Global Affairs (OGA) is pleased to share that Dr. Samuel Wasser, a member of the OGA Advisory Council for more than five years, has received the 2022 Lowell Thomas Award. Provided by The Explorers Club, the annual award is given thematically to a group of outstanding explorers to recognize excellence in domains or fields of exploration. The awardees of the 2022 Lowell Thomas Award were selected for their excellence in Conservation Genetics.

According to the 2022 Lowell Thomas Award announcement, “Dr. Samuel Wasser holds the endowed chair in Conservation Biology at the University of Washington, where he is a Professor in the Department of Biology and Co-Executive Director of Center Environmental Forensic Science. He is acknowledged worldwide for developing noninvasive tools for monitoring human impacts on wildlife. Dr. Wasser applies these tools to forensic analyses of transnational wildlife crime. He used elephant dung to assemble a DNA reference map of elephants across Africa, which is now widely used to determine the geographic origins of poached ivory. By comparing genotyped ivory to this reference map, he has been able to identify Africa’s largest elephant poaching hotspots, track the number and connectivity of major ivory traffickers operating in Africa, and uncover strategies that transnational organized crime syndicates use to acquire and move their contraband around the world.”

Apply Now! Global Innovation Fund

The deadline for all three awards is November 1, 2022.

The Office of Global Affairs (OGA) is now accepting applications for the Fall 2022 Global Innovation Fund (GIF) cycle. GIF seeds projects focused on expanding international research and learning at the UW, advancing interdisciplinarity and transformative global collaborations.

OGA is especially interested in supporting proposals by new entrants and early-career faculty.

There are three categories of awards for this cycle:

Research Awards

UW faculty members, research scientists, and non-faculty researchers from the Seattle, Tacoma, and Bothell campuses are encouraged to apply for a Tier 1 Research Award (up to $5,000) or a Tier 2 Research Award (up to $20,000).

Research projects may include:

  • Research collaborations with international universities and/or organizations
  • Cross-college and interdisciplinary conferences, symposia, and workshops
  • Visiting scholar support and faculty exchanges

Learn more & Apply

Teaching & Curriculum Awards

UW faculty members, lecturers, and staff engaged in course development are eligible to apply for awards up to $2,000 to add a global module, project, or innovation to a course.

GIF Teaching & Curriculum project examples include:

  • International virtual exchange or Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL)
  • Global student consulting or research projects
  • Incorporation of international speaker(s)
  • Interactive international learning activities

Learn more & Apply

Study Abroad/Away Awards

OGA is pleased to offer this award for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GIF Study Abroad/Away award request types include:

  • Pre-program visit, international (up to $5,000)
  • Pre-program visit, domestic (up to $3,000)
  • Embed a global component to a spring or winter class (three years: up to $10,000/year)
  • Create a new domestic study away program (three years: up to $10,000/year)
  • Fund an additional faculty member to attend an existing program to share responsibility of maintaining the program in the future (domestic: up to $3,000, international: up to $5,000)

Awarded programs must be run through UW Study Abroad.

Learn more & Apply

For any questions regarding GIF, please reach out to our office at

*The next planned award cycle for the Global Engagement Fellows Award is Spring 2023.

Meet the Global Engagement Fellows

The Office of Global Affairs is excited to announce that three faculty members have been awarded Global Engagement Fellows grants for the 2022-2023 academic year. Each fellow will receive $3000 from the Global Innovation Fund to build an inclusive UW global faculty community.

The Global Engagement Fellows (fellows) will convene new cross-disciplinary groups of faculty (referred to as “communities”) that share a common interest. The fellows will convene these communities on a pilot basis for the 2022-2023 academic year.

The purpose of the Global Engagement Fellows grant program is to increase connections and foster deeper ties among faculty across units at the UW. The grants were developed and awarded in response to the work of the Global Engagement Task Force.

Please visit our 2022-2023 Global Engagement Fellows page to learn more and to request to participate in a community.

The Global Engagement Fellows for 2022-2023 are:

Dr. Taso LagosDr. Taso Lagos

Multi-sustainability Academic Program

Goals of Community:

  • To create a community of UW Study Abroad program directors who are dedicated to creating environmentally conscious overseas programs.
  • To encourage UW Study Abroad program directors to adopt environmentally sustainable best practices in faculty-led UW Study Abroad programs.
  • To create a database of environmentally friendly companies, organizations, and stakeholders involved in the travel and hospitality industries for countries that host UW Study Abroad programs.

Questions? Contact Dr. Taso Lagos (Lecturer, Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies) at

Dr. Yen-Chu WengDr. Yen-Chu Weng

Interdisciplinary Cross-Cultural Classroom Exploration on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Goals of Community:

  • To convene a faculty community that explores pedagogical tools to engage with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in their courses to promote global literacy and cross-cultural competence.
  • To discuss best strategies for using the UN SDGs in cultivating global awareness and international perspectives among college students.
  • To develop a collection of lesson plans that focus on the UN SDGs, that connect the UN SDGs to UW curriculum, and that incorporate interdisciplinary cross-cultural approaches.

Questions? Contact Dr. Yen-Chu Weng (Lecturer, College of the Environment) at

Dr. Kristie L. EbiDr. Kristie L. Ebi

Global Environmental Change Engagement

Goals of Community:

  • To bring together a community of faculty and staff who are interested in international environmental change processes, committees, and organizations.
  • To increase understanding of and explore opportunities for engagement with processes/organizations such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification, and Future Earth.
  • To deepen ties and strengthen collaborations across units at the UW to address the challenges of global environmental change.

Questions? Contact Dr. Kristie L. Ebi (Professor, Center for Health and the Global Environment) at

Meet OGA’s first Senior Advisor for Faculty Global Engagement, Anita Ramasastry

Anita Ramasastry will lead OGA’s vision for global engagement with a diversity, equity and inclusion lens, fostering community and advancing key partnerships.

Anita Ramasastry
Anita Ramasastry

The Office of Global Affairs (OGA) welcomes our first Senior Advisor for Faculty Global Engagement, Anita Ramasastry. Anita will focus on building learning and research communities, connecting BIPOC faculty and students with global opportunities, and advancing the depth and bi-directionality of our strategic partnerships.

Anita is currently the Henry M. Jackson Endowed Professor of Law and the director of the Sustainable International Development Graduate Program for the UW School of Law. Her scholarship includes work in the field of anti-corruption, sustainable development and business and human rights and she has served in leadership roles with global institutions such as the United Nations, World Economic Forum, the World Bank and the Institute of Human Rights and Business, and other development organizations. Anita is a recipient of two of the University’s highest honors: the Distinguished Teaching Award and the Outstanding Public Service Award.

She previously served as the chair of the Global Engagement Strategy Task Force, charged with reimagining the role that OGA plays in informing and shaping the future of global engagement at the UW. With key recommendations from the Taskforce informing her work, Anita will lead new initiatives that deepen global engagement at the UW.

Anita’s Background

Learn more about her research, publications, areas of expertise, and leadership.

Learn More

Q: What background and perspective do you bring to this new role?
AR: I am pleased to serve in this inaugural role. As a BIPOC faculty member who has worked actively on global matters – on my research, teaching and public policy work, I know how important it is for a diverse voices to be part of global engagement. I have been a co-director of a study abroad program in partnership with faculty from the Law, Societies and Justice Program for nearly 15 years. I see the value of study abroad.

I also see the need for faculty to think about how to work to make study abroad both inclusive for our students, but also to design programs that are more reflective and help students to understand and engage with the local context in which they are studying. I am an admirer of Professor Anu Taranath, a UW faculty member who focuses on respectful and more intentional and equitable study abroad. She has a great book I highly recommend, called “Beyond Guilt Trips: Mindful Travel in an Unequal World.”

Q: What excites you about serving as our first Senior Advisor for Faculty Global Engagement?

I am excited to meet faculty from throughout our three campuses, to learn of the innovative ways in which they are engaged in innovative and inclusive models of global engagement – be it in research, teaching or service. My role is to serve as their sounding board, ally and facilitator for them. Part of that will be understanding what challenges they face in trying to undertake international activities.

Q: What do you hope to focus on in your first 6 months of serving in this role?
My hope is to meet as many faculty as possible, across the three campuses and to launch some pilot initiatives. For example, I am excited about opportunities we are exploring with the Center for Teaching and Learning about creating resources for faculty relating to globally-engaged, inclusive, and culturally-responsive teaching.

Q: How do your own experiences align with the mission and work of the Office of Global Affairs?
I believe in the transformative power of global engagement and collaboration. For faculty to be able to form lasting partnerships with communities in other regions, be it in their teaching, advocacy or research, this can be a powerful catalyst for innovation, change and bridge building.

I have worked for nearly 2 decades with researchers, academics and civil society groups in my field of business and human rights. The power of our network, has enabled us all to do more impactful work, and to exchange knowledge and ideas that has been far more valuable than my reading scholarly articles in the library. With technology at our disposal, the opportunity for us to engage in new models of teaching, community building and partnership is more possible – although we have to keep in mind that not everyone will have Internet or computer access. So thinking about new forms of global engagement requires careful balancing of the benefits and barriers relating to using technology to engage globally.

Meet OGA’s new Director of Global Engagement, Chrishon Blackwell

Chrishon Blackwell will lead key initiatives for the Office of Global Affairs focused on building community and broadening what it means to be global.

Chrishon Blackwell
Chrishon Blackwell

The Office of Global Affairs (OGA) welcomes Chrishon Blackwell, as our new Director of Global Engagement. Chrishon joins OGA at an important point in its history as it reimagines and reframes global engagement at UW. As Director of Global Engagement, Chrishon Blackwell manages new and existing international initiatives that support research, teaching, and global engagement among students, faculty, and staff.

Chrishon joins OGA from George Washington University (GW), where she oversaw summer at-large initiatives that supported the university’s broader strategic priorities of enhancing student success, retention, diversity, and internationalization.

Q: What background and perspective do you bring to this new role?
I have 20 years of professional experience working with international populations, 14 of which are in higher education administration. I am TESL/FL certified, hold two undergraduate degrees in Political Science and Business Management, a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, and am currently pursuing a doctorate in Human and Organizational Learning in the Executive Leadership Program at GW’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

My professional experience includes international recruitment, teaching and curriculum design, operations, and program management. I think the variety of academic and professional experiences that I have will bring unique and creative ways of approaching global engagement.

Global Engagement Task Force Recommendations

Five key recommendations guide OGA forward, shaping our vision for global engagement at the UW.

Learn More

Q: What excites you about serving as our first Director of Global Engagement?
I am excited to leverage my professional background and academic experiences to cultivate relationships across culturally diverse backgrounds and create partnerships across local, national, and global spaces.

Over the past year, OGA’s Global Engagement Task Force met with 100+ stakeholders across our campuses and schools, and reimagined the role we could play in facilitating global engagement for the UW. As our new Director, I am thrilled to bring this vision to life, expanding our programming to support faculty and students of all different backgrounds.

Chrishon along the river in Kowloon, Hong Kong

Q: How does your research inform and connect to the work you plan to do as Director of Global Engagement?
I have spent the past several years exploring the connections between cultural competency, comprehensive internationalization, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Throughout my career, my work has often required close collaboration with faculty and the offices that support academic success and retention such as the registrar, student affairs, multicultural services, international students and scholars, health and wellness, and career services. As such, I recognize and appreciate the importance of each of these offices working together to support a diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution.

Q: How do your own experiences align with the mission and work of the Office of Global Affairs?
The Office of Global Affairs vision aligns with my personal and professional goal to create opportunities and spaces that support global research, teaching, and community engagement. I think that there are so many ways to contribute to student success through global engagement efforts whether that is through supporting campus-based initiatives aimed at increasing access and retention, facilitating cultural competency development among faculty, staff, and students, and/or promoting cross-border activities that advance pedagogy and research.

President Cauce meets with Finnish Ambassador and delegation on innovation and collaboration

Aerial photo of the UW Seattle Campus
Aerial photo of the UW Seattle campus and surrounding Puget Sound. The Finnish delegation met with the UW as part of a series of meetings with business, academic, and governmental leaders in Seattle and Washington state. University of Washington

On November 4, 2021, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce welcomed a delegation from Finland, including Mikko Hautala, Ambassador of the Republic of Finland to the United States of America, and Timo Harakka, Minister of Transport and Communications, accompanied by a team of diplomatic officials. Sean Carr, incoming Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), and Francois Baneyx, Director of CoMotion and Vice Provost for Innovation, joined the meeting to discuss areas of mutual interest for Finland and UW.

The delegation visited UW’s Seattle campus, as part of a tour of the Pacific Northwest, focused on building relationships with the region’s governmental officials, academic institutions, and business community. Washington state is home to an active and strongly-connected Finnish-American community, and the Finnish delegation had earlier signed an MOU with the state of Washington outlining future research and technological collaborations.

During a cordial exploratory meeting, President Cauce introduced the UW’s broad-based strengths in academic and applied research, emphasizing the expertise and experience of UW faculty and researchers in various areas such as the study of misinformation. In late 2019, the UW launched the Center for an Informed Public, an interdisciplinary and nonpartisan effort to translate and apply research on disinformation in policy, public engagement, technology, and education. Minister Harakka pointed to the importance of education in shaping the ability of citizens to resist misinformation and manipulation and the need for countries such as Finland to broadly build skills and increase literacy in areas such as artificial intelligence.

President Cauce noted the importance of ‘knowledge diplomacy’ between governments in a time of breakdown of many other forms of diplomacy. Communicating scientific research and information to the general public was seen by both groups as an important role for governance and academia, and an area of common interest and possible collaboration between Finnish institutions and UW.

GIX Bellevue

GIX’s headquarters in the Bellevue Steve Ballmer Building, hosts prototyping labs, event space, and three startups. GIX

Ambassador Hautala also underlined Finland’s focus on six US states for potential technological synergy and partnership. Helsinki and Seattle both host thriving start-up communities, and the University of Washington’s CoMotion and the Global Innovation Exchange create environments focused on experiential learning and technological innovation for students and faculty. As the incoming Executive Director, Carr highlighted the strong potential for collaboration in educational ventures with GIX for Finnish universities.

The meeting concluded with expressions of a shared sense of mission and collaboration among the Finnish delegation and UW representatives and optimism towards the many paths forward for collaboration between Finnish institutions and the UW.

Jackson School Director Leela Fernandes: Leading global education & engagement for students and faculty

Leela Fernandes joined the Jackson School in 2020 after serving as the Director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan; she has also served on the faculty of Rutgers University, New Brunswick and Oberlin College. Her research has been on inequality and democratic politics in India, the politics of economic reform and transnational feminism.

Vice Provost Jeff Riedinger
Jeffrey Riedinger

By Jeff Riedinger, Vice Provost of Global Affairs

The last two years have been an important moment of reflection for all of us, and international education has been both challenged and inspired. COVID-19 significantly reduced our faculty and researchers’ ability to move across borders while making virtual methods of connection widely used and more accessible. Recognition of historical and colonial inequities in the United States and abroad pushes us to reassess our approaches to teaching, administration, and research.

For the Office of Global Affairs (OGA), this meant reconsidering what our office’s mission is and how we can better support the University of Washington’s faculty, students, staff and community. A Global Engagement Task Force was charged in 2020 with answering such questions, meeting with over 100 stakeholders from across the university.

One of the members of this Task Force was Leela Fernandes, the Director of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies and Stanley D. Golub Chair in International Studies. Leela joined UW and the Jackson School last year and has navigated many new challenges while leading the School’s faculty, students, and staff forward. As leaders in global engagement and higher education, I am pleased to invite Leela for a conversation on the School’s vision and future and how the Jackson School has risen to meet the challenges of this current time.

New ‘open’ Global and Regional Studies major

Students can now enjoy open admissions, more choices in courses, new specializations, and varied capstone options.

Learn More

JR: Right after you started in your new position you asked your faculty to approve a significant revision of the Jackson School’s flagship undergraduate International Studies major, which is now called Global & Regional Studies. Starting this quarter (Autumn 2021) any UW undergraduate can freely declare this major which was previously competitive and by application only.

Why was this change in the curriculum a priority for you?

LF: The new major builds on the historical strengths of the Jackson School in deep regional knowledge and adapts these strengths to address changes in the field of international studies. Some of the pressing challenges of our time are fundamentally global in nature. Global pandemics, climate change and economic crises of various kinds continually reveal the interconnectedness of peoples, regions and nations. At the same time, the depth of the Jackson School’s work shows us that policy solutions need to engage with and learn from local communities. Moreover, policies are still ultimately implemented in national contexts and through governmental action. The new major prepares students by combining training that addresses these global, regional and local/national dimensions. The major allows students the flexibility to combine broad thematic interests (for example in the environment, inequality, security) and combine these interests with a regional focus. It also allows students to develop formal regional specializations in areas that have not had independent majors – such as African Studies and Arctic Studies. So the new major was really driven by the objective of serving students in the best way that we can. It reflects the Jackson School’s commitment to undergraduate education and to keeping up with trends in international studies.

JR: It sounds like you are keen to position the Jackson School even more prominently in the ‘global education’ space for undergraduates at UW, while emphasizing the deep connections between the local, regional, and global.

What, to you, is the significance of this change in terms of student enrollment and students’ access to global and regional studies courses and degrees?

LF: The change in curriculum was a priority because it hopes to serve the Jackson School’s objectives in addressing diversity, equity and inclusion. The new major is an open major so it gives students more access to the School’s offerings. We live in a time where globalization means that students in every field of study need to have some understanding of the broader world. We hope that these changes will also draw in more students including students from other colleges and from the natural sciences.

JR: This change also sounds like a great opportunity for more students at UW to be able to combine their primary academic interests with courses and even minor or majors offered by the Jackson School. This would help them ‘globalize’ their education and take steps toward becoming global citizens and broadening their horizons – as well as their competencies and career options. The Jackson School is one of the country’s premier centers for research and teaching on global affairs and area studies. It is also the academic hub for global and regional studies at UW.

What is your five-year vision for the role of the Jackson School in the University? And beyond UW?

LF: The Jackson School is unique amongst professional schools of international studies in its intellectual breadth and depth. We cover conventional areas such as political economy, human rights and security but also have distinct strengths in fields like comparative religion and indigenous studies. What connects all of these disparate intellectual areas is a broad based commitment to public engagement. Public engagement matters to all aspects of JSIS’ work – scholarship, teaching, policy work, commentary, and community outreach.

Through distinctive coursework, like our capstone Task Force, our undergraduate majors acquire distinctive competencies and skills in addressing practical problems. We have also developed a second capstone offering as part of our new major that is focused on training students in public writing and engagement. This has been created as part of an inaugural series of seminars funded by the Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing program.

One of the lessons we have learned is that good policy requires public communication and engagement – particularly in the context of misinformation and a world heavily saturated by social media. The Jackson school is poised to lead in this mission of public engagement in a distinctive way. Developing this mission of public engagement – both within and beyond the academy – is a key objective for the coming years.

Global Engagement Task Force Recommendations

Five key recommendations guide OGA forward, shaping our vision for global engagement at the UW.

Learn More

JR: Global engagement for faculty, students, staff and with the broader public, are also key strategic priorities for me and the Office of Global Affairs. We thank you for serving on our 2021 Global Engagement Task Force which delves into some of the ways OGA is shifting our vision and priorities. For all of us in OGA our commitments and aspirations in this area are important for our internal culture and for broader conversations in all our communities.

How does your vision for the Jackson School connect with the aspirations of faculty and students to be included in conversations around diversity and equity at UW, and beyond?

LF: Goals of diversity and equity are always ongoing and unfinished projects. The Jackson School has passed a new charter on diversity, equity and inclusion and is committed to this work. We also bring a distinctive international perspective to understandings of diversity and equity. We train students to work inclusively and train students in linguistic, religious, and cultural literacy. We have faculty who do important work in the field of disability studies. Our vision of public engagement also has a strong emphasis on equity, justice, and respect for the histories and knowledge of diverse peoples and places across national borders. The challenge is to incorporate these worthy endeavors into institutional practices so that the school embodies these ideals. Our faculty have been working on this – for instance by connecting pressing questions of racial justice in the U.S. to global work on race and diasporic communities.

JR: I completely agree: there are so many positive and pioneering things happening at UW already, and we need to work to connect people and projects in ways that energize all of our our global efforts, and generate new ones. So much of what we do at UW already has a global dimension, even if it is not always explicit, or by design. Thank you so much for this conversation, Leela. I hope it will be an inspiration to others, as it has been for me. Very best of luck during your second year leading the Jackson School!

Reframing Global Engagement at UW

Written by Anita Ramasastry, Henry M. Jackson Endowed Professor of Law, Director of the Sustainable International Development Graduate Program, and Faculty Director, International, Comparative and Transnational Programs

Anita RamasastryIn autumn of 2020, I was appointed as chair of the Global Engagement Strategy Task Force and charged with reimagining the role that the Office of Global Affairs (OGA) plays in informing and shaping the future of global engagement at the University of Washington.

Over the last year, I had the pleasure of not only diving deeply into discussion with seven peers from diverse units, but meeting with and learning from over 100 stakeholders from across the university.

This work took place at a time of inflection both for the UW broadly and for OGA. The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly transformed UW’s model for teaching and learning, it also put global travel including study abroad on hold. The pandemic also underscored the importance of UW providing administrative and social support structures for international students and researchers during a major global crisis. The Black Lives Matter movement and a renewed call to action for greater focus on anti-racist approaches to education prompted us to grapple with what it means for us to be globally engaged in a way that confronts issues of historica and contemporary racism and colonialism and is consistent with the UW’s overall approach to diversity, equity and inclusion. These challenges and opportunities shaped our process and our recommendations.

Five key recommendations emerged for the future work of OGA:

  1. Shift OGA’s focus from being a steward of policies and procedures to being a builder of global learning and research communities
  2. Serve as a portal and ambassador for stewarding and advancing institution-wide relationships with key global actors — from international organizations, such as the UN and the World Bank, to key foundations and think tanks
  3. Catalyze global teaching and education beyond study abroad, ensuring a global education for all through the use of technology
  4. Identify and work to eliminate the structural barriers that prevent many BIPOC faculty, staff, and students from leveraging OGA’s services and programs
  5. Continue to provide broad administrative support (travel security, MOUs, etc.) for the myriad global partnerships, but also invest more substantially in fewer, deeper, and bi-directional partnerships

Collectively, we are eager to see OGA build a richer ecosystem for global engagement at the UW. UW has a strong commitment to global citizenship. We now have the chance to expand and reframe our approach.

Download the full report

OGA would like to give a special thank you and acknowledgement of the tremendous service of the task force members: Anita Ramasastry (Chair), School of Law; Gayle Christensen, Office of Global Affairs; Leela Fernandes, Jackson School of International Studies; Debra Glassman, Foster School of Business; Stephanie Harrington, College of the Environment; Joe Lott, College of Education; Rebecca Neumann, College of Engineering; Judd Walson, Schools of Public Health & Medicine

Q&A with Ben Sommers, UW’s new Global Travel Security Manager

The UW Global Travel Security program was established to facilitate safe and successful global travel for UW students and employees.

Ben Sommers

The Office of Global Affairs (OGA) welcomes the program’s new manager, Ben Sommers, this October. As global travel slowly returns, vaccinations increase and new challenges arise, Ben’s leadership will be integral to informing and supporting our global travelers as they navigate a quickly-changing travel landscape.

Ben has almost a decade of experience managing international programs for students and global travelers. He joins us from 4-H International Exchange Programs where he was a Senior Program Manager. A husky undergraduate alum, Ben has dual Masters degrees: in International Communication from American University and Korean Studies from Korea University.

Q: What are you bringing to your new role here at UW?

I have been fortunate to have had a diversity of professional and personal experiences that have underlined the value of international travel. I think there is a great deal of truth in the adage that you never get to know your own cultures until you leave them behind. After a year plus of restricted travel, we are all eager to get back out and have the types of transformative travel experiences that we’ve put on hold. Apart from my professional and academic experiences, I think the most relevant piece I bring to the role is the firm belief in the transformative power of international travel and the importance of growing UW’s connections with the global community.

Q: What do you look forward to as you begin your new position?

Current International Travel Policy

Revised rules for official international travel have been issued for all travelers.

Learn More

I am very excited to be back at UW, especially at such a significant moment as the university community returns to campus. In a general sense, our world is also progressing towards reopening and it has been energizing to see limitations on travel being lifted and so many of our faculty, staff and students getting back out into the world. It has also been particularly inspiring to get a small glimpse into the various ways that the UW community is bringing their curiosity, adventurousness and expertise to their projects around the globe. I look forward to collaborating with university stakeholders in supporting and advocating for international travel as a critical form of global engagement.

Q: As you connect with students, faculty and staff here at UW, how can your own history of travel and studying abroad help you?

As I mentioned above, I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to see a sliver of the world. When reflecting on the trajectory of my life and career, I can definitively point to the undergraduate exchange program I participated in as a transformative moment in my life. I spent half a year at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. As a Korean adoptee, those six months deepened a feeling of curiosity I had in a place that I felt so inextricably connected to, but yet also incredibly uninformed about. I later built on that experience by doing a dual degree exchange program as graduate student at American University, jumping at the opportunity to complete a second degree program back in Seoul at Korea University.

Ben Sommers in Chiang Mai, Thailand in his last role before joining OGA. He is standing next to a taxicab
Ben Sommers in Chiang Mai, Thailand in his last role before joining OGA

Beyond studying abroad, my personal and professional travel have acted as sort of mile markers in my life. They have been experiences that have been sometimes humbling, sometimes thrilling, but always educational and informative. I think many students, faculty and staff at UW, regardless of the depth of their travel histories, have experienced the same range of impacts during their adventures abroad. Beyond feeling motivated to help enable more travelers have productive and meaningful experiences, I hope to be a resource that helps our traveling community feel supported by an on-campus office.

Q: What do you see as the key role of the UW’s Global Travel Security Program?

I think the Global Travel Security Program’s ultimate role is to help facilitate travel and to advocate for the university’s global engagement efforts. The presence of the university abroad on any given day is considerable so the Global Travel Security Program helps to ensure that those travelers are supported by being connected to the vast resources that they may need to access prior to, during or post-travel.

Global Travel Security Key Resources

There are highly regarded subject matter experts on just about everything and everywhere here at UW. The Global Travel Security Program and myself hope to be a collaborative partner in preparation for international travel. It goes without saying that the international travel landscape is particularly complex at this moment so hopefully we can help travelers to decode and untangle those complexities and ensure that the intersection between university policy and country or regional regulations does not pose challenges to the critical work being done around the world.

Q: How can UW global travelers connect with you as they plan their research, service, or study abroad?

I really do hope to connect with you all! My office is housed in the Office of Global Affairs in Gerberding Hall. Please feel free to reach out via email ( or by phone (206.616.7927). The general resources available on the Office of Global Affairs website is also a great starting point for travel planning. You can find information on travel registration, insurance and emergency assistance.