Active Global Citizen

Dr. Darla Deardorff

SDG #4 Quality education
Executive Director, Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA); Research Scholar at Duke University
World renowned expert, lecturer, and researcher on intercultural competence and international education assessment, has published widely on international education, global leadership and intercultural learning/assessment
Global citizenship is not just within the purview of education, it’s not just something that’s taught in the classrooms. Ultimately, it is about living our lives as global citizens, daily incorporating intercultural competence into all of our interactions. Global citizenship is a lifestyle.

Dr. Darla K. Deardorff is the executive director of the Association of International Education Administrators, a national professional organization based in the USA, and a research scholar with the Social Science Research Institute at Duke University, where she has been an adjunct faculty member in the Program in Education and a faculty affiliate with International / Comparative Studies. In addition, she teaches at numerous other universities in the U.S. and speaks on her research on intercultural competence and international education assessment in over 30 countries worldwide. Among her numerous publications on international education, leadership assessment, her work as editor of The SAGE Handbook of Intercultural Competence particularly stands out.


What is your main expertise and the focus of your work?

For over the past decade I have been researching what is necessary for us to get along as humans. In academic circles, that is known as intercultural or global competence. In addition to that, I’ve been looking at ways to assess that competence. As such, I have been invited to be one of the four experts working with OECD on the PISA Global Competence test given in 50 countries in 2018. I have also been working with UNESCO on a really exciting project (open access manual available here) that is about an intercultural methodology that can be used to develop and practice intercultural competence, anywhere in the world, with any group of people, using little to no resources, and facilitated by someone who may not have a formal background in intercultural communication. This work will also be the focus of my pre-conference workshop at the AFS Global Conference.

Based on your extensive expertise with in the intercultural learning field globally, how can we make progress in advancing global competence education?

We need to move beyond our silos. The work of international educators seems to stay with those who believe in this work. We need to do more to reach those who normally aren’t part of these efforts, because this work is needed now more than ever. A burning question for me now is: How do we reach those who are not so motivated, who are not predisposed to this work? That is where we need to be. For too long we’ve been working with fantastic likeminded folks, but now we must move beyond our silos and comfort zones to reach others.

How does your work address the UN Sustainable Development Goals?

My work primarily centers on SDG #4, related to quality education. But, in order to achieve any SDG, we need to build a foundation of respect, intercultural dialogue and competence. Global citizenship and these key skills are foundational to the SDGs in general.

What motivates you to work on global competence and intercultural learning?

Given the situation in the world nowadays, we have to work harder than ever to build bridges, given how divided our world and societies are becoming. I am motivated personally by my own faith beliefs, what it means to be a peacemaker and how to make this world a better place. A lot of it can be summed up by a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” We have to confront world issues together, and learn to live together even though it doesn’t come naturally to us as humans. Global citizenship and intercultural competence play a key role in learning to live together.

Why would you recommend attending the AFS Global Conference?

I would recommend attending the AFS Global Conference because it brings together a unique group of people who don’t normally talk to each other. I really think that’s the key strength of the conference. Participation in the conference allows you to step back, think about what you are doing, connect with others, and share ideas and perspectives that you might not normally encounter. Through these kinds of connections and synergies, we can all continue to work toward building a better world.

Connect and network with Darla as well as other Active Global Citizens and leading 21st century education stakeholders at the AFS Global Conference: Active Global Citizenship—and How to Educate for It, 9-11 October in Montreal.   

Register for the AFS Global Conference