By Elaine Guillot, Manager of Marketing & Public Relations for the Office of International Initiatives
Georgia State University was awarded a 2022 IIE Andrew Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education in the category of Widening Access for International Education for its Free Passport Initiative. This award from the Institute of International Education (IIE) recognizes the most innovative and successful models for developing and expanding international education in practice today. The IIE Heiskell Awards were created in 2001 to promote and honor the most outstanding initiatives being conducted in international higher education by IIENetwork members, particularly those that address a specific need, remove institutional barriers, and broaden the base of participation in international teaching and learning.
The IIE Heiskell Awards are named after Andrew Heiskell, a former chairman of Time Inc. and a member of the Executive Committee of IIE’s Board of Trustees. He was a renowned international and cultural philanthropist and a long-time supporter of international education. IIE is proud of continuing his outstanding legacy through the IIE Heiskell Awards and bestowing these awards on to IIENetwork members that demonstrate the power and longevity of international education through their innovative and impactful programs.
“We are honored by this recognition of the Free Passport Initiative at Georgia State through a Heiskell Award for Innovation in International Education. The initiative was a bright spot for global engagement during a dark period for study abroad, and motivated Georgia State students to focus on post-pandemic international opportunities,” said Dr. Wolfgang Schlör, associate provost of International Initiatives.
The Free Passport Initiative was conceived by the Office of International Initiatives (OII) at the end of 2020 during the pandemic and implemented by Study Abroad Programs in collaboration with the Georgia State University Passport Office. OII recognized the need for an initiative that would maintain interest in study abroad and motivate students to continue taking steps to plan for their future international experience. The goals of the initiative were to dramatically increase the number and the range of backgrounds of Georgia State students with a valid U.S. passport, maintain interest in international experiences at a time when actual travel was not possible, and lay the groundwork for a robust rebound in study abroad participation after the pandemic, and it has achieved these aims.
The initiative was launched in February 2021, and to date more than 1,000 students have received a passport through the program.
“The Free Passport Initiative gave me the opportunity to receive my first-ever passport, which figuratively and literally opened up whole new worlds for me. I’m a film major. Inclusion is becoming a big part in the field of entertainment, so just having that ability to travel, meet, and learn from people all over the world will help do wonders in my budding career field and for general learning purposes,” said A.D. Bivines, a Georgia State film major.
This year’s winning initiatives and all programs that have been recognized to date are available on www.iie/org/HeiskellAwards.