SIT celebrates 60 years of educating global citizens

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School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro

Vermont Business Magazine Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2024, School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro is kicking off a series of events spotlighting the institution’s unique history and its dynamic future as a 21st-century global university.

SIT was officially established in 1964, 32 years after the launch of World Learning’s foundational youth exchange program, The Experiment in International Living. When President John F. Kennedy tapped program alumnus Sargent Shriver to become the inaugural director of the Peace Corps, Shriver turned to the Experiment to train some of the first Peace Corps volunteers. Out of that activity, SIT was born.

Today, SIT is the only accredited institution of higher education in the United States that is part of an international nongovernmental organization, World Learning.

“Over six decades, we have achieved accreditation as a higher education institution, expanded into a Graduate Institute, and built an extraordinary study abroad program, including the International Honors Program,” said SIT President Dr. Sophia Howlett.

With more than 500 faculty and staff around the world, SIT delivers undergraduate and graduate programs in nearly 30 global learning centers. These include SIT’s one-year, full-time Global Master’s degrees that each take place in two to three different countries. Students complete these programs with a practicum in a location of their choice.

“This global reach offers one-of-a-kind opportunities for in-person learning, cultural immersion, and face-to-face interaction with faculty, peers, and community partners whose perspectives are non-western and decolonial,” Howlett said. “This gives students the opportunity to form relationships and build networks that broaden their perspectives and foster invaluable cross-cultural understanding.”

SIT also offers part-time hybrid master’s and doctoral programs that give students the opportunity to earn an MA or a PhD without leaving their communities and careers. Some in-person courses for these programs take place on SIT’s iconic Vermont campus during the summers.

During its 60th year, SIT will open registration for its second and third doctoral programs, PhDs in Sustainability and International Relations. SIT launched an EdD in Global Education in 2021. The first cohort of new EdDs from that program will graduate this year.

SIT has also debuted a new open-access, peer-reviewed academic publication called the Journal of Critical Global Issues. The title refers to SIT’s approach to its programs, which are developed around a framework of seven of the world’s most critical global issues.

In addition, as part of a local coalition of organizations, SIT and World Learning are helping to develop a thriving regional refugee resettlement program that has brought more than 300 refugees to southern Vermont over the past two years. As part of that effort, the Brattleboro campus serves as temporary housing for refugees when they first arrive in the area and SIT and World Learning faculty and staff provide English-language and cultural orientation classes for the new Vermonters.

SIT founders Donald and Leslie Watt

SIT founders Donald and Leslie Watt

“Refugee resettlement needs a whole-community approach,” said Carol Jenkins, World Learning CEO. “As pillars within their communities, higher education institutions have incredible potential in this context, and World Learning’s program in Vermont serves as a powerful model for others to follow.”

On April 5, SIT will hold a half-day 60th anniversary event on the Brattleboro campus featuring special guests, former Vermont Senator Patrick J. Leahy and his wife Marcelle Leahy. Before leaving the U.S. Senate in 2022, Leahy submitted a statement recognizing the global impact World Learning, School for International Training, and The Experiment in International Living have had over nine decades.

In it, Leahy said, “As the first stop in Vermont for newcomers from Afghanistan, Ukraine, and elsewhere, World Learning and SIT bring together staff, faculty, alumni, and neighbors to offer language, cultural orientation, and friendship in a program that is a national model for effective refugee integration.”

The 60th celebration will be supported by the Windham Foundation. The event will highlight Vermont’s unique role on the global stage, discuss strategies for how to grow and expand Vermont’s global future through global education, rural development, and new technologies, and celebrate Senator Leahy's global legacy.

“SIT students and faculty started making a difference for our world from the day this unique and game-changing institution was created here in Southern Vermont in 1964, and they haven’t stopped for the past 60 years. Training Peace Corp volunteers, educating Nobel Peace Prize winners, changing lives and perspectives, and leading the way with bold innovative programs,” said Senator Leahy. “They are the gold standard of global education, and Marcelle and I are honored to be part of the SIT 60th anniversary celebration.” 

“SIT and the Windham Foundation share a nearly 40-year history of bringing together leaders in education and Vermont rural economic development," said Ellen McCulloch-Lovell. “We’re honored to support SIT once again to celebrate their 60 years of innovative leadership in global education. The impact of SIT’s work both globally and also right here in our backyard is highly visible and effective. SIT students and staff have made our state stronger, more diverse, and more globally connected. We are richer for their 60 years of dedicated and groundbreaking work. SIT's mission both parallels and reinforces Senator Leahy's values and action over his long career. As his former Chief of Staff, I am especially pleased to celebrate SIT's anniversary with him and Marcelle."

From immersive undergraduate programs through terminal degrees, SIT provides exceptional experiential education at home and abroad. On every program, in every location, learners experience SIT’s commitment to its values of community, intercultural understanding, social justice, and sustainability. For 60 years, these values have grounded and guided SIT’s work to learn from and educate future global citizens to create a more sustainable, peaceful, and just world.

School for International Training (SIT), the academic arm of World Learning, was established in 1964 as a training center for the first Peace Corps volunteers. Today, SIT is a U.S.-accredited global university offering undergraduate study abroad programs including the comparative International Honors Program, and globally focused graduate degrees and certificates. SIT prepares students to be effective changemakers and global citizens through experiential education focused on the world's most critical global issues. For more information, visit

School for International Training (SIT), the academic arm of World Learning, was established in 1964

Source: 3.21.2024. BRATTLEBORO, Vermont – School for International Training