Internationalisation can ‘resist globalisation backlash’

Experts say that inclusive internationalisation strategies that reach the entire university community are more essential than ever

September 12, 2018
Hand holding globe showing Africa

Internationalisation efforts at universities have the power to help “resist the growing backlash” against globalisation and fight against neoliberalism, if strategies are carried out in a critical and inclusive way, according to two international education experts.

Eve Court, programme advisor for Global Campus Initiatives at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and Eva Janssen, summer school programme coordinator at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, argue that international education can be used to “help people adapt to the increasing interconnectedness of global society through intercultural experiences and navigating difference with curiosity”.

They add that “the shift in global politics in recent years” now means that international education “prepares people to resist the growing backlash to internationalisation”.

In an essay titled “Rethinking internationalisation at home: critical internationalisation and resistance”, published for delegates at the annual conference of the European Association for International Education, the authors suggest that increasing nationalism in many countries and the neoliberalisation of higher education means that the “need to develop strategies for inclusive internationalisation at home, informed by critical global citizenship, [has] become more essential”.

“An institutional culture of critically engaged global citizenship can serve as a fundamental and powerful form of resistance to such influences as intolerance and fear, or detrimental neoliberal interests,” they write, citing “talk of market shares of international students” as an example of how internationalisation can be driven by neoliberal interests.

Ms Court and Ms Janssen add that critical global citizenship teaching should extend to the whole university community in an effort to confront inequality and promote social justice and sustainability.

Online programmes, which allow students to collaborate with peers “representing diverse global voices”, are an example of how internationalisation at home can allow learners to develop intercultural competence and gain work experience in international teams, they argue. 

Elspeth Jones, emerita professor of the internationalisation of higher education at Leeds Beckett University and an international education consultant, said that “simply sending students abroad does not by definition turn them into critical global citizens”.  Rather, she said that “embedding internationalisation or interculturalisation within formal and informal curricula will offer the greatest chance of success”.

“Cultural diversity in our institutions and our local communities offers the foundations for intercultural learning in domestic contexts,” she said. Ensuring that internationalisation activities reach all students across the university will require “working across ‘cultures’ in the broadest sense and embedding this approach into disciplinary curricula”, she added.

Elspeth Jones will be chairing a panel on internationalisation at home at the EAIE conference on 12 September, while Eve Court will lead a session on building a globally engaged campus community on 13 September.

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