Celebrating 90 Years
One World, Learning—Since 1932
World Learning is celebrating its 90th anniversary since sociologist Donald Watt launched The Experiment in International Living in 1932. This flagship program focusing on intercultural exchange led to the establishment of both School for International Training and World Learning.

Today, our three distinct branches drive change through education, development, and exchange. Learn about how, over nine decades, World Learning has evolved and innovated to address the critical global issues of our times.
Explore the interactive timeline below to learn more about World Learning's rich history.
An idea is born
Dr. Donald Watt founds The Experiment in International Living as a way to improve cross-cultural understanding. The first cohort of 23 young men participates in a summer camp in Switzerland with Swiss, Belgian, French, and German teenagers.

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Learn more about our History and Mission (Photo of Leslie and Donald Watt)
Women join
the mix
In its second year, women and homestays become part of The Experiment mix.
Sargent Shriver
joins The Experiment
A young Sargent Shriver joins an Experiment group to Germany and Austria. He becomes an assistant leader for this trip in 1936 and a group leader to France in 1939. Shriver goes on to become the first director of the Peace Corps, modeling the cultural orientation of Peace Corps volunteers after The Experiment.

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Sargent Shriver with Experiment group. Click to read article about Alvino Fantini, trainer of the Peace Corps trainers
Mission driven
The Experiment is formally incorporated as a nonprofit organization.

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Photo of a historical Experiment document titled, "Passport to Understanding." Click to watch a short Experiment video
Connecting worldwide
The Experiment national offices join to establish the Federation Experiment in International Living, a global network of educational exchange programs promoting similar philosophies for cross-cultural understanding.

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Photo of the Federation EIL Logo. Click to explore the Federation EILwebsite
Sheltering Hungarian refugees
The Experiment in International Living opens its campus in Putney, Vermont, to refugees displaced when Soviet forces defeat the Hungarian revolution. Refugees live with homestay families and receive English language lessons, leading to SIT's English as a Second Language program.
Training Peace
Corps volunteers
First Peace Corps Director and Experiment alum Sargent Shriver invites The Experiment to train Peace Corps volunteers to East Pakistan. The groups are trained on SIT’s original Putney, Vermont, campus.

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Historical photo of Peace Corps group on the SIT campus. Click to read article about SIT and the Peace Corps: Learning with ‘your mind and your heart’
School for International Training is established
Peace Corps training activities lead to the establishment of an academic institution, School for International Training. The Experiment’s Cooperative Overseas Program, a program for university students, later evolves into SIT Study Abroad, growing to enroll more than 2,000 participants annually.

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Historical photo of an SIT homestay family in Nepal. Click to visit SIT's About Us page
SIT enrolls its first master’s degree students in SIT Graduate Institute and goes on to grant its first degrees in 1971.

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Historical photo of SIT graduate students. Click to watch video introducing SIT Graduate Institute
World Issues Program
SIT offers the World Issues Program, an undergraduate degree in which students complete their last two years with SIT and study abroad for a semester. The program runs for more than two and a half decades.
Refugee crisis following the Vietnam War
The Experiment is contracted by the U.S. Department of State to administer a large-scale language, intercultural, and job skills training program for refugees from the former Indochina.

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Click to learn more about the Southeast Asia Refugee Camps run by World Learning
Expanding scope of international development
Putting decades of training expertise into further practice, The Experiment starts working with U.S. Agency for International Development through the consortium Partners for International Education and Training. PIET provides academic and technical training, along with study tours, and runs for 14 years.
Promoting peace
United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar designates The Experiment in International Living as an official United Nations Peace Messenger Organization. The award recognizes the organization’s role in promoting peace worldwide.
New name,
global reach
The Experiment’s global development unit, now established as a leading international organization, becomes the nonprofit World Learning. The Experiment in International Living’s name is retained for summer high school programs.

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Click to watch a video about World Learning's Global Programs
Nobel Peace Prize
SIT Graduate Institute alumna Jody Williams, founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, wins the Nobel Peace Prize.

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Click to read article about SIT alumna Jody Williams and her world-changing work
The CONTACT program
SIT Graduate Institute Professor Paula Green establishes Conflict Transformation Across Cultures, a residential program for participants from conflict zones around the world. The Dalai Lama presents the Unsung Hero of Compassion award to Green for her peacebuilding efforts in 2009.

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Click to read memorial article about Dr. Paula Green
Youth peacebuilding expands
SIT hosts a conflict management program for Greek, Turkish, and Cypriot youth. The following year, youth from Northern Ireland participate in cross-community dialogue. SIT goes on to host an International Youth Building Camp, laying the foundations for today’s World Learning youth programs including Global Undergraduate Exchange, Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange, Youth Ambassadors, and Jóvenes en Acción.

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Click to learn more about World Learning's People-to-People Exchanges
Nelson Mandela meeting
SIT Study Abroad students on South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights meet with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nelson Mandela, the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election.

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Click to watch video about SIT South Africa: Multiculturalism and Human Rights
International Fellows Program
SIT plays a major role in running the Ford Foundation International Fellowship Program’s Leadership for Social Justice Institutes. The initiative works with leaders from Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, and Russia to promote development and social justice in their countries.
Second Nobel
World Learning Trustee Wangari Maathai is honored as founder of Kenya’s Green Belt Movement.

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Click to read Wangari Maathai's Curriculum Vitae
Honors Program
International Honors Program is welcomed into SIT Study Abroad portfolio, giving students a comparative look at critical global issues.

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Click to read article about IHP alumnus Sean Massa and how study abroad changed his major, his career path, and his worldview
World Learning
goes digital
World Learning launches a youth digital exchange program, followed by the award-winning Experiment Digital Youth Leadership and Community Service program.

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Click to explore the Experiment Digital's interactive story site
Responding to
the global pandemic
SIT and World Learning repatriate more than 900 students as COVID-19 spreads worldwide. Programs pivot to and expand existing digital curricula, internships, and exchanges. In-person programming returns in 2021.

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Click to read article about SIT's repatriation effort during COVID-19
First cohort enrolls in doctoral program
SIT enrolls the first students in its hybrid doctorate in global education. The EdD program combines online coursework with residencies in Vermont to address issues in global education locally and abroad.

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Click to read article about the introduction of SIT's doctoral degree
Afghan refugees
find a new home
World Learning and SIT join with a national refugee resettlement agency to welcome nearly 100 Afghan refugees to SIT’s Vermont campus. Staff, faculty, and alumni provide English language and cultural orientation classes to the refugees, who had to flee Afghanistan in 2021 to escape the Taliban regime.

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Click to read article about SIT welcoming Afghan refugees to campus