Internationalization of Higher Education: A Case Study on College Music Teachers' Intercultural Expertise

By Lasonen, Johanna | International Education, Fall 2010 | Go to article overview

Internationalization of Higher Education: A Case Study on College Music Teachers' Intercultural Expertise


Lasonen, Johanna, International Education


ABSTRACT

School and work organizations are operating in an increasingly global world. Meeting different people and groups is part of daily learning situations. The diversity of student and work communities can change from putting up with difference into conscious learning from dissimilarity in interaction. Intercultural education emphasizes the personal encounter of difference in another person and mutual learning. Internationalization and the effects of a global economy can be seen in the changes concerning work and the workplace as well as in the mobility of the labor force. There is a demand for intercultural competencies not only in business life, but also in arts and science. Internationalization and intercultural learning are also goals of official education policy. International student and staff exchanges, instruction in a foreign language, and credit systems across national borders have posed challenges to educational institutions as well as to the workplace.

In this article I will discuss music teachers' intercultural expertise and internationalization in higher education in Finland. Firstly, I will deal with human capital, which includes intercultural competence as a natural part, followed by a presentation of some case study interviews.

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATION AND MULTICULTURALISM

Internationalization, which is a central objective of higher education, is apart of the globalization trend. In higher education, internationalization is measured, for example, in terms of international student and teacher exchange, work experience gained abroad, and the number of international publications. International education seems to be separate from the universities' internationalization practices.

The goals of international education are based on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and on the recommendations of other documents ratified by Finland (see Allahwerdi, 2001) and the United States. These goals have emphasized the peaceful coexistence of nations, human rights, equality and learning of foreign languages. Multicultural education refers to taking the population's diversity into account in education. At first, multicultural education was seen as a sub-domain of international education. Recently, the term "international education" is more and more often replaced with "global education." It emphasizes skills, knowledge, attitudes and responsibility for the whole Earth and its understanding. As their common denominators, the trends of internationalization and globalization emphasize awareness of and shared responsibility for the diversity of the surrounding world. Today, multicultural education and intercultural education are no longer considered sub-domains of international education. Multiculturalism has a social aspect that is characteristic of societies that consist of multicultural peoples and their communities.

In Finland, multiculturalism in education started to gain emphasis in the 1990s, and intercultural learning came to the fore even later, whereas international education had been a focus much earlier. Especially after World War II, since the late 1940s, the notion of international education gained emphasis, As far as multicultural education is concerned, Finland lags a few decades behind more traditional immigration countries (e.g., the UK, Canada, and the USA). Increasing immigration to Finland has brought multiculturalism to the focus of education, although the traditional minority groups have been living in the country (the Romany, Sami, Tatars, Jews, Karelians, etc.) for a long time. Along with daily encounters with dissimilarity, people have realized that there is a need for intercultural learning, interaction skills and related instruction. Besides the structural factors of education, emphasis is put on the revision of process-, content-, and value-related components that would reflect the acceptance of social, cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity.

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Internationalization of Higher Education: A Case Study on College Music Teachers' Intercultural Expertise
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