History

World Learning Inc. is a thriving global organization made up of The Experiment in International Living, School for International Training — which includes SIT Study Abroad and SIT Graduate Institute — and World Learning, a nonprofit that runs our global development and exchange programs.

It all began in 1932, when Dr. Donald Watt founded World Learning Inc.’s flagship program, 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, President John F. Kennedy tapped Sargent Shriver, one of the original Experimenters, to become the first director of the newly formed Peace Corps. Shriver drew upon his experiences with The Experiment to craft the Peace Corps’ founding principles and ultimately invited The Experiment to help train the first volunteers prior to their deployments.

Inspired by this work, The Experiment founded the School for International Training (SIT) in 1964 to prepare students from across the globe to be effective leaders, professionals, and citizens. SIT carries out this mission through its two main programs: SIT Graduate Institute, which offers internationally focused master’s degrees  as well as certificate and professional development programs, and SIT Study Abroad, which offers worldwide undergraduate study abroad programs.

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, which aims to expand access to quality education, foster youth leadership, improve economic opportunities, and promote citizen engagement and good governance.

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 the foundations for a more peaceful, sustainable, and just world.

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