20 SES 02, Developing Innovative Intercultural Competencies in Multicultural Contexts
A current concern is how higher education institutions interpret global perspectives and internationalisation within their policies and practices. In European higher education, internationalisation is usually associated with Bologna process, education development in the global North, global markets, tightening competition and economic crisis. Two higher education networks have recently pointed out to the importance of widening perspectives and enhance understanding of the interdependence between countries, institutions and people. The European Development Education Monitoring Report “DE Watch” (2010) recommends clarification of concepts related to global education issues and increasing common understanding through more research and sharing of knowledge and views among academics and practitioners. The International Association of Universities (2010) emphasises the role of higher education in promoting globally agreed education targets, such as Education For All and Millennium Development Goals.
In Europe, critical engagement of citizens in global issues is deemed increasingly significant for ensuring democratic culture, peace and sustainable development. The challenge for higher education institutions is to find effective ways to engage students in global issues. Recent research has found clear evidence that, instead of mere future employment prospects and economical gains, higher education students value cross-cultural learning and the sense of global connectedness (Bourn 2012). For students, according to Bourn (2012), 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. This paper investigates how higher education students negotiate and construct their sense of global connectedness in cross-cultural and international learning activities.
The objectives are to 1) highlight students’ significant, both positive and negative, experiences in cross-cultural learning dialogue, 2) profile students’ sense of global connectedness. The overall aims are to find ways to increase students’ engagement in global issues and to develop tools for higher education to provide students with global skills, necessary for realising their potential and contributing to global development.
The conceptual framework applied in this study is drawn from social learning theory and communities of practice. Investigating students’ sense of global connectedness through their learning in cross-cultural dialogue can be understood also as exploring meta-learning or tacit knowledge construction (Carneiro 2007). The approach has been guided by previous research applying student voice which contributes to transformation and change in education (Seale 2010; McLeod 2011), participatory approach and research engagement (Flecha 2010; Lehtomäki et al. 2013) and dialogic research (Moate 2013).
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