22 SES 11 A, Internationalisation: Student Experience
This paper participates in current discussion on internationalization including the role of the ‘global’ in higher education (e.g. Maguth & Hilburn, 2015; Maringe & Foskett, 2010) and conceptions of global citizenship. Global education, aiming at ‘global citizenship’ has guided educational contents and pedagogical principles, yet been implemented in various ways and for various reasons (Bourn, 2014; Bourn, 2015). The UN Global Education First Initiative urges education to foster global citizenship to ensure sustainable development (UNESCO, 2014). Citizenship has been defined as an “expanding” notion with citizens “expected to be educated and literate, so that they can understand, critique, and deliberate on matters of public policy” (Lee & Arthur, 2015:xiii). In light of the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) approved in 2015 by the UN General Assembly (UN, 2015), the notion of global citizenship and the role of higher education need to be analysed. The SDGs set a new responsibility for education institutions, research and study programmes in education, to prepare educators and education systems to work towards the goal.
Education has always been valued for its formative potential and long recognised as a means of fostering citizenship. Education, however, goes beyond citizenship reaching into the heart of being and becoming human in the most profound sense of the word. Being human involves biological, cognitive, cultural, individual and social dimensions - different dimensions that together create different potentials and constraints for education (Tikly, 2015). Essentially education is a relational phenomenon, as human becoming is premised on who I am in relation to that which is other, being concrete and immediate, as in other people, or more abstract, represented by theoretical knowledge or reported experiences (Bakhtin, 1981; Dewey, 1922). In higher education educators have a responsibility to provide educational experiences that enrich students’ sense of being and potential in the world (Dewey, 1922), and through this experience students can decide whether and how to take up their own responsibilities within the world (Bakhtin, 1981). This responsibility requires even more emphasis in the context of educating teachers and other education professionals (Mannion, et al., 2011; Moate & Ruohotie-Lyhty, 2014; Seddon, 2014).
Different from the policy level goals of internationalization emphasizing competitiveness, economic growth and employment prospects and economical gains, higher education students have been found to value cross-cultural learning and the sense of global connectedness (Bourn, 2012). For students, the connectedness means experiences of people being closer, reduction of the anticipated distance between cultures and possible tensions between local and global, making sense of the world and learning the required knowledge and skills to engage in securing a better world (Bourn, 2012). The challenge for higher education institutions has been how to engage students in global issues.
The research questions in this study critically reflect on internationalization from the students’ perspective, how they experience cross-cultural dialogues and what they learn and value as meaningful for their life. This study refers to ‘dialogue’ as an experience that looks “towards individual processes of thinking and reflection, as well as towards the constitution of cultural practices and communities at particular historical moments” (Renshaw 2004, p. 2). By cross-cultural dialogues we mean spaces of encounter with self as well as other, spaces within which previously assumed understanding may be challenged as new perspectives and possibilities are acknowledged (Wegerif, 2010). Thus this study serves to evaluate the impact of a course purposefully designed to encourage boundary crossing, challenge existing (Western) knowledge base and to motivate re-considering issues taken for granted. The skills of cross-cultural dialogue and critical reflection, we assume, are essential for global citizens and needed in the globalized world more than ever before.
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