To me, this week’s readings are all about assessing whether there are “teeth” to the concepts we have been discussing and whether the practical realities if higher education make them sustainable.  Adding to the notion of internationalization, this week, Mapping Internationalization on U.S. Campuses: 2012 Edition introduced us to the concept of “comprehensive internationalization” and laid out guidance on how to achieve it, if achievable at all.  The IAU Internationalization Survey gave us some hard facts and statistics to better gauge and understand how the concept of internationalization actually translates on campuses.

For me, an interesting part of the readings this week was that concepts are easy to pay lip service to and talk about in idealized and romanticized ways, but is there real teeth and resources for meaningful implementation of comprehensive internationalization at our colleges and universities or are they terms thrown around that do not fully take into account the critical importance of student learning and curriculum development?

Having come off a couple of weeks of analyzing strategic plans and mission statements of a diverse group of US colleges and universities, it is clear to me that these documents and statements are key to introducing concepts of global education and comprehensive internationalization.  Making sure that they have the teeth and muscle power to lead to implementation underscores even more how important it is that they be well thought out and presented documents stemming from the highest institutional leaders.  The path from strategic plan to implementation of comprehensive internationalization has to be a legitimate one – one bolstered by optimism but also one that recognizes the institutional and student learning challenges that must be overcome to not have empty plans and statements.  The IAU survey reflects that student learning and student mobility are priorities of internationalization efforts and that specific activities are being considered and targeted.  This is promising.  But balanced against this is some of the reality of the ACE piece which reflects that data shows some improvements but also some stagnation.  In the US, attention also needs to be focused on not just delivering comprehensive internationalization to students in general, but non-traditional students as well who make up more and more of the student body population at our colleges and universities.  One way to ensure this is to address such factors in strategic plans and vision statements directly with data driven analysis and support strategies.  This will allow for some “teeth” in the optimistic plans and mission philosophies of US colleges and universities striving for meaningful comprehensive internationalization with student learning at the center of its priorities.

3 thoughts on “W 11- Comprehensive Internationalization and “Teeth”

  1. Hi there. Great post! I completely agree that the rhetoric around internationalization in U.S. HEIs is encouraging, but that the “teeth” of their plans — actually implementing the ideas — oftentimes lacking. It seems that until recently internationalization was a back-burner issue, and now it’s become one of the top priorities of HEIs (so much so that many HEIs have strategic plans solely dedicated to internationalization). This is encouraging — and I guess this is the first step — but more attention needs to be paid towards implementing these initiatives and measuring their impact.

    I also was glad you brought up the importance of including non-traditional students into internationalization initiatives. Nontraditional students are now the majority on college campuses throughout the country, so there needs to be more attention paid towards internationalization at home. I was very surprised to see that while internationalization as a whole increased, language instruction decreased. At the very least, I think that U.S. HEIs need to push for more intensive language training to help American students catch up with the rest of their global peers.

  2. Good Afternoon,
    I loved your post and really appreciate that you work to demystify the idea of turning concepts in realities. Something that I always find difficult is the myriad challenges which international education inherently presents. Sometimes, the road blocks are financial, while other times it can be totally different like concern for student safety. With this in mind, I find it really important to look at programs which are currently working and carefully decide what helps these programs to become and remain successful. Another factor which I think we should consider is where the programs are located. For example, one of the articles mentioned that North America and Europe were the most likely regions to respond to the surveys and have some of the strongest programs. I think it would be valuable to look at programs in these areas to possibly help weaker programs in the Caribbean or Asia.
    Thank you for your insight!

  3. I really enjoyed reading your article this week and like your references to the realities of implementation of a global program when resources are not properly allocated. Resources are necessary to successful programs however monetary aid is not the entire solution as you stated. The “teeth” are often times what is missing – plans to successfully implement at home and creating initiatives that support real impact for your’ students. I think one of the problems in implementing global programs is that policy makers skim through various successful global implementation models and direct their strategy based on the conclusion/outcomes section. Then they narrowly look to recreate programs based on their strength but not taking an individualized approach to needs/context into consideration. A successful program duplicated can be a failure elsewhere as we have seen in NYC public education.

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