Our Story

About Us

For 85 years, World Learning has worked to create a more peaceful, sustainable, and just world. Our education, development, and exchange programs help people find their voices, connect with their communities, and strengthen the institutions that form the backbone of a democratic society. With our support, these emerging leaders tackle critical global issues like poverty, conflict, and inequality.

As a thriving international nonprofit organization, World Learning works across six major program areas. We’re hard at work improving global education to ensure schools and teachers have the tools they need to support students — including English language instruction through our TESOL teacher training. We encourage civic engagement in communities around the world, and we strengthen institutions so that they can best serve their constituencies. Our workforce development programs help people cultivate the hard and soft skills they need to succeed. And we offer people-to-people exchanges for people of all ages who seek professional and academic enrichment.

All World Learning programs are grounded in five key approaches: experiential learning, leadership development, inclusive practices, innovation, and grants management. We believe in partnering with local experts, organizations, and institutions to find solutions that will truly work for each community. Together, we create the foundations for a better tomorrow.

History

World Learning is a member of the World Learning Inc. family, which also includes The Experiment in International Living and School for International Training.

It all began in 1932, when Dr. Donald Watt founded The Experiment in International Living. Inspired by the belief that sending Americans abroad would expand their worldview and cultivate cross-cultural understanding and respect, Watt and 23 young men — the first Experiment group — sailed for Europe to attend a summer camp with Swiss and German teenagers.

The students returned transformed. They had a different outlook on the world, as well as new leadership and communication skills. The following summer, The Experiment became the first program to offer homestays so that American students could fully immerse themselves in different cultures.

In 1961, Sargent Shriver, one of the original Experimenters, drew upon his experience with The Experiment as the first director of the newly formed Peace Corps. He invited The Experiment to help train the first Peace Corps volunteers, spurring the founding in 1964 of World Learning’s sister organization, School for International Training. SIT prepares students around the world to become effective leaders, professionals, and citizens through SIT Graduate Institute and SIT Study Abroad.

In the mid-1970s, the organization began putting decades of experience into practice around the world through a Projects and Grants unit that managed grant-funded assistance programs in developing countries. It also began expanding its portfolio of international exchange programs. These two units eventually merged to become World Learning Inc.’s nonprofit global development and exchange arm, World Learning.

Today, World Learning Inc. continues to build on its decades of success. The Experiment sends more than 600 American teenagers abroad each summer for life-changing experiences. SIT Graduate Institute offers accredited graduate degrees in eight areas of study. SIT Study Abroad offers 82 study abroad programs for undergraduate students, including multi-country comparative programs through the International Honors Program (IHP). And World Learning oversees 92 programs with participants from more than 150 countries, including the 2,000 emerging leaders we bring to the US every year on international professional, academic, and youth exchanges.

Together, we are building a more peaceful, sustainable, and just world.

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