07 SES 06 A, Internationalisation in Higher Education
Internationalisation is part of the past, the present, and the future of institutes of higher education (HEI). Nearly twenty years ago years ago, Cowen (1996) predicted that the international economy in late-modernity would be the “crucial definer of the purposes, efficiency and effectiveness of the educational system, its content and its structures and even of its pedagogic modes” (161). His foresight is indicated in recent national and international educational policy (e.g. Bologna Process and Lisbon Strategies) and in the wider literature on higher education. Universities today are increasingly responding to pressures to internationalise- be it through bringing in international students, sending students abroad, building international research partnerships, or internationalising course curricula. There is an apparent rush to internationalise that would benefit from an understanding of the historical forces present in assumptions that international is better and of the particular ways that current polices jeopardize the historical role of the university in contributing to democratic societies.
In the current context of global crises, economic imaginaries of internationalism can be fused into narrow instrumental terms at the expense of the democratic and social imaginaries. Left unchecked, this normalized version of internationalisation can serve to re-direct social and political values such as global citizenship and social responsibility towards economic values that reproduce ideals of exceptionalism, entitlement, and (market) expansionism (Rhoads & Szelényi, 2010). It is important, therefore, to examine the extent to which current internationalisation processes in HEIs are ethically grounded .This research addresses immediate concerns that current economic/financial/policy crises have intensified the drivers towards exploitative and profit-seeking unethical internationalisation, while curtailing the resources and commitment towards sites for potentially ethical alternatives (Khoo, 2011). It asserts a commitment to recasting the university as a civic space (Biesta, 2007) of exposure to the world concerned with questions about our living together.
This paper will present preliminary findings from a comparative international, mixed-methods research project funded through the Academy of Finland and involving 20 HEI sites in 10 countries including 8 European universities. It investigates what are the barriers and opportunities for ethical engagement with internationalisation policies in higher education contexts.
To establish a basis in global ethics, the project draws on postcolonial and decolonial theories (e.g. Bhabha, 1994; Mignolo,2002) to understand the persistence of colonial relations of power in academic contexts. Several authors have continuously called for a pluralization of knowledges in higher education (see for example Andreotti, 2009; Hickling-Hudson& Sidhu, 2011; Rizvi, 2007). Drawing on this theoretical orientation, the project examines how three concepts are constructed in internationalisation processes of higher education. First, epistemic difference refers to historically marginalized forms of knowledge and subjectivity (Mignolo, 2002). Second, transnational literacy (Brydon, 2004) refers to a combination of knowledge about ‘glocal’ (Bauman, 1998) flows and the ability to engage with otherness in hybrid epistemological spaces shaped by center/periphery relationships. Finally, global citizenship refers to supra-territorial forms of subjectivity that highlight interdependence (Abdi & Schultz, 2008; Dower, 2003), ecological fragility (Krogman & Foote, 2010), cultural hybridity (Bhabha, 1994; Stevenson, 2005), complex flows of knowledge and power (Rizvi, 2007), as well as implications and responsibilities related to unequal distributions of wealth and labor in local and global spheres (Andreotti, 2007).
We will present preliminary findings from a analysis of policy documents, student and faculty surveys, and interviews with internationalisation managers. This paper will focus on the findings from the data set collected in European universities and will consider the extent to which the 8 universities in Europe are experiencing similar or distinct processes of internationalisation in comparison to HEIs in other regions of the world.
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