Robert Bennett Slated to
Chair National Committee
Studying abroad is an opportunity that male students don’t often experience, therefore missing the social and educational benefits that it can bring. Getting students to experience something out of their comfort zone may be difficult, but Dr. Robert A. Bennett III is up for the challenge. He was recently appointed to chair the Task Force on Male Students for the Diversity Abroad Network. Robert views his selection as an opportunity to help remedy males’ limitations on studying abroad. “Our objective is to hold higher education institutions accountable to ensure inclusion of all populations through the Diversity Abroad Network Good Practices Series.”
The Diversity Abroad Network is a program dedicated to “advancing diversity and equity in international education.” It involves educators and academic professionals who “recruit, advise, and serve the needs to diverse students in global education.” Parts of this network are comprised of Task Forces, committees which focus on nine thematic areas, including Males.
Robert currently works with the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and the Office of International Affairs (OIA), which engages Ohio State students and faculty in educational and research experiences internationally. He also works on special assignments for the Todd A. Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male within ODI. Congress recently applauded the Bell Center for their successful graduate retention rate of African-American males at Ohio State. Therefore, Robert’s passion for inclusive enrichment makes his selection to this committee a perfect fit. His involvement with ODI and OIA echoes the same message that he wants to spread: enhancing the diversity of students in education and occupation.
A graduate of Morehouse College (’04), Bennett appreciated the opportunity to study abroad. “I traveled to Ghana in 2005 with a study abroad course at Ohio State, visited the Dominican Republic in 2013, and most recently traveled with the ODI Afro-Brazil study abroad trip in 2014.” When asked what he gained from those experiences, Robert answered, “Traveling, whether domestic or international, has encouraged me to consider my place in the world.” Bennett wants underrepresented male students to have the chance to have a different outlook on life.
Robert’s role with the Task Force, along with its five other members who represent such institutions as The University of Texas at Austin, DePaul University, and Iowa State University and the University of Minnesota, will be to increase access to international educational opportunities for diverse male student populations. Bennett sees many ways in which access to studying abroad can be fostered in males. “Promotional materials have an impact on whether males travel abroad. There has to be an appeal to male students. This could involve classroom visits and highlighting high profile males and their international experiences,” stated Bennett. Once male students are aware of the possibilities, he feels that they can “see international travel as an experience they can integrate in their careers.”
International studying may be foreign to underrepresented male students, but Bennett believes that they will gain exceptional knowledge through views from a different perspective: “I encourage all students to experience how people in other countries live, particularly looking at constructs of gender in different locales around the world.”
Story written by ODI Intern, Whitley Hawkins.