Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Pinder and Poku talk equity and diversity in study abroad programs at keynote event

Annie Zhou
Anthony Pinder, left, vice provost of internationalization and equity, and Shaya Gregory Poku, right, vice president for equity and social justice, host a keynote discussion on equity in internationalization as a part of Emerson International Education Week.

International Education Week at Emerson continued on Wednesday, Nov. 15 with a keynote conversation on equitable futures in global education between campus faculty Dr. Anthony L. Pinder and Shaya Gregory Poku. 

Pinder founded the Global Pathways Program at Emerson and currently holds the position of the inaugural vice provost of internationalization and equity. Under Pinder’s leadership, Emerson received the 2020 Senator Paul Simon Award for Campus Internationalization. Pinder was recognized earlier this month at Diversity Abroad’s annual conference in Chicago where he received the 2023 Executive Leader of the Year in International Education Award.

Poku has been the vice president for equity & social justice at Emerson since May 2022.

The discussion took place in the Greene Theater at Tufte and began with each of the speakers providing insights into their background and how it has informed their understanding of internalization and equity.

Pinder, who entered the Peace Corps in Ecuador after he graduated college, said the experience of becoming fluent in another language and living in a different culture “changed [his] life forever.” 

“The skill sets one develops by being abroad…that ease with which you move around the world becomes really second nature to you,” Pinder said.

This perspective has guided Pinder’s efforts with Emerson’s international students and the college’s overseas programs. He emphasized “internalization has always been an equity issue,” and expressed his dedication to finding effective ways to support these students.

The Kasteel Well program in particular is an area where Pinder is trying to ensure just treatment and diversity.

Kasteel Well, Pinder said, had only “small inputs of students of color with diverse students for almost 40 years,” but that last semester’s class was made up of 61 percent students of color.

Pinder said this demographic shift has created the need for more faculty and staff development training at Kasteel Well. He said this training would concern teaching the staff to engage with classes, like this year’s, of increasing racial diversity in a sensitive and equitable way. Students have voiced concerns about a lack of diversity and equity at Kasteel Well.

Pinder is looking to add equitable solutions to all the global pathway programs.

“We’ve created a lot of amazing programs…but if there are students who can’t afford to do them, there’s an access issue which equates to an equity issue,” Pinder said.

Poku aims to delve not only into the demographics of individuals accessing these programs, but how the programs themselves are being used.

“I know lots of people who study abroad who come back no wiser and no more thoughtful or more engaged…about what it actually means for us to be part of a global society,” Poku said. “It’s really important to me…that as a school of communication in the arts…we’re not perpetuating narratives of othering people.”

The combined internalization and equity work of Pinder and Poku’s departments represents a more substantial focus on diversity and equity issues than most colleges have, Poku said.

Poku hopes this will allow Emerson “to be a platform…for engaging on these bigger questions.”

She doesn’t just want to guarantee fairness and diversity at Emerson but hopes to leave all students with an engaged international perspective and understanding. 

“What we expose people to here at Emerson literally, not just figuratively, impacts the world,” Poku said. “Particularly because we are an institution of storytellers.

Both Poku, and especially Pinder who has been with Emerson for a decade now, acknowledged that a lot of work has been done in this department and that a lot still needs to be done at Emerson.

“The world is watching, and higher education has taken note of the kinds of things we’ve done,” Pinder said. “We have a house that has a really firm foundation…And now we can really get creative about the kinds of things we do.”

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About the Contributor
Bryan Hecht
Bryan Hecht, News Co-Editor
Bryan Hecht (he/him) is a freshman journalism major from Havertown, Pennsylvania. He currently serves as an assistant editor of The Berkeley Beacon News section. Bryan also contributes to WEBN Political Pulse and hopes one day to work in broadcast news media. As a member of the Emerson Cross Country team, Bryan can likely be found on a run around the Boston area when he's not writing for the Beacon.

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