Profiles in International Education: David Comp

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

I'm starting a new series for our site, called Profiles in International Education. I'm excited to share the great work that so many international educators are doing - and changing the world! Who better to kick off this series than David Comp? He's the author of two excellent international education blogs, International Higher Education Consulting Blog and International Education Blogs & News. He's finishing his PhD in international education. And, he's doing great work in International Higher Ed Consulting, working with institutions and organizations to internationalize in a variety of ways.  He's a regular presenter at conferences; serves and provides leadership in NAFSA, the Forum on Education Abroad, the National Flagship Language Initiative (NFLI) Fellowship and the Critical Language Scholarship.  He also serves as consultant to the Standards Committee of the Forum on Education Abroad. He's also working in international education at the University of Chicago.


David Comp


I am most impressed, though, with the reach of all these efforts - David truly encompasses the spirit of international education, utilizing the benefits of social media and the internet to connect the world. We were lucky enough to sit down and talk with David, about his work, the internationalization of higher education, and more. Here's what he had to say...



WE: Please tell us about two of your sites - International Higher Education Consulting Blog and International Education Blogs & News?

DC: International Higher Education Consulting Blog (IHEC Blog for short) came about as a companion to my side consulting work.  It provides me an opportunity to highlight and inform about news, literature and other resources that may be of interest to practitioners and researchers in the field of international education.  I’ve been doing this via numerous international education listservs for many years and I felt that IHEC Blog was a great way for me to continue this trend but in a more professional and accessible format.  IHEC Blog also allows me the ability to link related posts to one another in addition to serving as an archive.  It’s become a part-time job but I really enjoy building IHEC Blog into an informative site.  You can access IHEC Blog here:

International Education Blogs & News was an idea that came to me on a flight home from a conference in Portland back in February.  I was thinking about adding a blog roll to IHEC Blog and I quickly realized that there were too many blogs I wanted to add so I thought I would create one large blog roll that focuses on professionals and organizations who are blogging about issues related to international education as well as individuals (students, faculty, researchers, and peace corps volunteers) who are blogging about their experiences from abroad.  Over time, International Education Blogs & News has added Google News, YouTube and Twitter feeds on related search terms such as study abroad, international education and Fulbright grants.  I don’t post much to International Education Blogs & News as it is constantly being updated by the blogosphere! 



WE:  What is your background in International Education?

DC: I was an exchange student in Rosenheim, Germany during high school for two summers (after sophomore and senior years) and I fell in love with the concept of international educational exchanges and knew I wanted to study abroad in college.  During college I studied abroad for a semester in Valladolid, Spain and at that time I knew I wanted to work in this field.  My journey into the field was slow.  After graduating from college I was unable to secure a job in the field and went to work with troubled and disadvantaged youth in the field of human services for seven years.  During my tenure in human services my interests in the field of international education never left.  I volunteered for a year in the International Student Office at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri and for a semester in the Office of International Affairs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  When my wife and I moved to Chicago I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and was hired as an Assistant Director in the Office of International Affairs at the University of Chicago where I found myself in the thick of coordinating an intensive Fulbright U.S. Student Program competition only three weeks on the job.  After five years of working in that office I applied for an academic advising position in The College at the University of Chicago and am now the Senior Adviser for International Initiatives in The College. 

In addition to my work at the University of Chicago, I have also consulted on several international education related projects for a variety of institutions and organizations in higher education.  I currently serve on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Studies in International Education (JSIE) and have co-authored several book chapters and reports on international education topics in addition to serving on multiple task forces and committees for NAFSA: Association of International Educators and the Forum on Education Abroad.



WE: What is the state of the field of international education?

DC: It’s an exciting time to be in the field of international education.  We are seeing more and more interest by incoming college students on issues and experiences outside of the United States.  Additionally, more and more campuses are recognizing the value of adding an international component/focus to their curriculum in addition to working to increasing the number of students studying abroad and international students being admitted to their academic programs.

I have a strong interest on research and literature on the field and the number of researchers and practitioners focusing their work on international education issues has grown substantially over the years.  This is all very exciting for me and I’m really looking forward to the continued interest and growth in this area.



WE: How can campuses internationalize? 

DC: That is a difficult question to answer as there are so many avenues for campuses to take towards internationalization that it’s impossible to specifically prescribe what they can do to achieve a more globally minded student body.  Campus internationalization goes beyond sending students abroad and welcoming more international students to campus.  Campus internationalization requires support from all areas of campus and a commitment to add more international content to courses and to actively seek collaborations with other campuses and scholars from across the globe. 



WE: How can international educators - and travelers -  promote intercultural and diversity issues?

DC: I think international educators can make a difference in promoting intercultural and diversity issues by working to be a visible presence on campus.  Campus outreach to students, faculty and staff by international educators is a critical component to promoting intercultural and diversity issues.  Additionally, I think international educators can play a key role in various intercultural and diversity programming activities on campus that bring awareness and understanding to those who have or will not study abroad and to those who have had limited contact with people from other countries.



WE: International Education (through Study Abroad, cultural exchange, etc.) can change the world. How can we promote these activities and move forward with intercultural knowledge and cultural diplomacy?

DC: We know that not everyone is interested in study abroad/cultural exchange activities - but many, many people are interested in these activities.  I think it’s important to engage students at a very early age during their secondary and even during their elementary school days in thinking globally and challenging them to think about and to respect different cultures and different ways of thinking.  This, if possible, needs to happen before students go to college and we need to get educators and administrators working to incorporate these activities into their curriculum.  This can be done by committing to and welcoming international students to schools through secondary school exchange programs or setting up school to school direct exchanges.  To be sure, not all educators/administrators believe in or understand the importance of these people-to-people interactions and not all schools have the capacity to provide these opportunities to their students as their attention must be on other issues.  Additionally, I think it’s important to educate parents on the importance of study abroad and cultural exchange and to encourage them to become more active in promoting these opportunities to their children.  I think if we send our students abroad and welcome students from afar into our homes and schools the cultural/citizen diplomacy results just naturally follow.



WE: What is up next for you?

DC: I plan to continue working at the University of Chicago as well as continue posting to IHEC Blog.  Next on my plate is completing my dissertation for my degree in Comparative and International Education.  I’m at the dissertation proposal stage and my current topic/working title is Towards the Development of a Methodology to Measure Public Diplomacy Outcomes of International Education Programs.  My reward upon completion of my doctoral degree will be centralizing IHEC Blog and my other projects into a more focused web presence.



WE: Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

DC: If you have young children or know people who have young children encourage them to watch television shows like Toot & Puddle and/or introduce them to the Flat Stanley Project and his friend Flat Stella.  Also, consider hosting an international student or professional who is visiting the United States.  These are priceless experiences you can give to your children.  It’s also very important for children to start studying a second language at a very early age.

If you have secondary school aged children, search for high schools in your area where developing globally competent students is part of their mission.  If possible, send your child abroad on an exchange program (even if it is just a short two week program!).  Continue to host international students or professionals visiting the United States in your home.  When talking with your children about college be sure to include studying and/or volunteering abroad in the same sentence. 

If you have college age children, strongly encourage them to study or volunteer abroad.

We as educators have a major role to play in developing globally competent and culturally sensitive students but, as you can see, I firmly believe that it all starts in the home!



WE: Thanks so much, David! I love the work you're doing and am grateful for the chance to share your love of international education with our readers.


For more information, please see:

International Higher Education Consulting Blog

International Education Blogs & News


Twitter @ DavidComp

Click here to see all of our international education profile features, in Profiles in International Education: A Compendium

Comments (2)

  • Alexandra Korey

    13 years 1 week ago


     Jessie thanks for publishing this article about David. That is one inspiring career path.

     Here's a question for David or "the public": with the expansion and democratization of study abroad, how can we keep the quality of study abroad students UP in order to keep up its benefits? Not to be negative, but here in FLorence it's known as a party semester for most; the diplomacy result is 0 (or negative) and there's economic benefit but less and less social benefit to study abroad programs here. The schools are excellent and they try their best to keep levels high and occupy students in productive ways. I'm stymied.

  • David Comp

    12 years 11 months ago

    Thanks for your comments and the question and sorry for the much delayed reply.  I'm in the thick of the Fulbright competition and it's another busy year. 

    I think your question is a really important one for the field of study abroad to think about and one I don't have an answer for.  I fully support the Simon legislation and increasing the number of U.S. students who study abroad.  However, I am concerned that an increase in the number of U.S. students who study abroad will have a negative effect on U.S. citizen/public diplomacy efforts as well as our image.  I must admit that during my undergraduate studies I didn't do that great academically and probably just squeaked by in terms of being able to study abroad.  Despite my low academic performance (which I made up for in my graduate work!) I approached my study abroad experience in Spain with an open and respectful mind.  So for me it's not all about grades and it's more about getting study abroad applicants/participants to think critically about how they behave while abroad and the impression their behavior leaves on the local community.  I think the field of study abroad needs to think about this aspect of our work much more. 

     Just my thoughts... 

    David Comp
    International Higher Education Consulting Blog
    [email protected]

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