Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

Towards Different Conversations about the Internationalization of Higher education/Vers Des Conversations Différentes Au Sujet De L'internationalisation De L'enseignement Supérieur

Academic journal article Comparative and International Education

Towards Different Conversations about the Internationalization of Higher education/Vers Des Conversations Différentes Au Sujet De L'internationalisation De L'enseignement Supérieur

Article excerpt

The acceleration of institutional commitments to "internationalize" higher education over the past few decades has resulted in a pressing need for reflection on the practice, pedagogy, and study of this work. A decade after offering her widely cited definition of the term,1 Jane Knight (2014) lamented, "internationalization has become a catch-all phrase used to describe anything and everything remotely linked to the global, intercultural or international dimensions of higher education and is thus losing its way" (p. 76, emphasis added). In response to this identity crisis of internationalization, Knight proposes, however, not to revise the definition of the term, but rather to focus on examining "the fundamental values underpinning it" (p. 76).

In this article, we respond to Knight's call (and others', e.g., Tarc, Clark, & Varpalotai, 2013; de Wit, 2014; Madge, Raghuram & Noxolo, 2015) to rethink the "fundamentals" of internationalization by mapping the landscape of its existing and potential articulations. This approach is also motivated by concerns that a failure to examine the less celebratory elements of internationalization may contribute to the reproduction of harmful patterns of economic and epistemological dominance on a global scale (see Shultz, 2015). Although a growing number of scholars have raised ethical questions about the theory and practice of internationalization (e.g., Adnett, 2010; Naidoo, 2010; Rizvi & Lingard, 2010; Suspitsyna, 2015), there remains a widespread consensus about its positive benefits and a reluctance to engage with the more difficult and unsettling paradoxes and challenges that arise in its enactment (Brandenburg & de Wit, 2011; Teichler, 2010). In our efforts to initiate and facilitate substantive conversations around these complex and difficult issues with other scholars and practitioners, we also realized that there is a dearth of shared vocabularies and frameworks that would allow us to do so. We further found, when compiling undergraduate and graduate syllabi for courses in this area, that there is a need for more accessible yet conceptually rigorous texts in this area.

Based on these experiences as well as a detailed review of existing scholarship, this paper brings into conversation diverse approaches to internationalization in an effort to enable students, scholars, and practitioners alike to engage in more collective, self-reflexive examinations of the challenges involved in the internationalization of higher education. Specifically, we draw on decolonial scholarship to suggest that most institutional internationalization efforts operate from within a dominant global imaginary that tends to naturalize existing racial hierarchies and economic inequities in the realm of education and beyond. This imaginary acts as a structuring frame that legitimizes certain perspectives and delegitimizes others. Using social cartography (Andreotti, Stein, Pashby & Nicholson, 2016; Paulston, 2000), we consider how four articulations of internationalization relate to this imaginary by tracing their situated histories, orientations, and assumptions.

We begin this paper by introducing the concept of the dominant global imaginary, including its modern/colonial origins and its contested but enduring ordering logics. Next we detail our social cartography of internationalization, and provide an illustration of a higher education initiative (i.e., policy, program, or project) that exemplifies the goals, driving motivations, and educational aims of each articulation, even as we acknowledge that most practices and policies are a contingent assemblage of multiple articulations operating at once. We then consider different possible readings of this cartography, and finally consider how cartographies can facilitate new kinds of conversations about internationalization that might bring us to the edges of the dominant global imaginary.

The Dominant Global Imaginary

The term "social imaginary" refers broadly to the organizing structure of shared understanding that makes legible or illegible certain relationships and practices within a given community (Taylor, 2002). …

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