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Critical internationalization studies at an impasse: making space for complexity, uncertainty, and complicity in a time of global challenges



In this paper, I reflect on the current state of critical internationalization studies, an area of study that problematizes the overwhelmingly positive and depoliticized approaches to internationalization in higher education. I note that, despite growing interest in this approach, there is a risk that critiques will circularly result in more of the same if we do not attend to the full complexity, uncertainty, and complicity involved in transforming internationalization. In an effort to continue this work, and clarify the distinctions between different approaches to critical internationalization studies, I offer two social cartographies: one of different theories of change in relation to internationalization, and one of different layers of intervention. Finally, I ask what kind of internationalization might be adequate for responding to today’s many global challenges.
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Citation: Stein, S. (2019). Critical internationalization studies at an impasse: making space for complexity,
uncertainty, and complicity in a time of global challenges. Studies in Higher Education. DOI:
Critical internationalization studies at an impasse: making space for
complexity, uncertainty, and complicity in a time of global challenges
Sharon Stein
In this paper, I reflect on the current state of critical internationalization studies, an area of study that
problematizes the overwhelmingly positive and depoliticized approaches to internationalization in
higher education. I note that, despite growing interest in this approach, there is a risk that critiques will
circularly result in more of the same if we do not attend to the full complexity, uncertainty, and
complicity involved in transforming internationalization. In an effort to continue this work, and clarify
the distinctions between different approaches to critical internationalization studies, I offer two social
cartographies: one of different theories of change in relation to internationalization, and one of
different layers of intervention. Finally, I ask what kind of internationalization might be adequate for
responding to today’s many global challenges.
internationalization; critique; coloniality; global challenges; complexity; complicity
In 2011, Uwe Brandenberg and Hans de Wit published a piece provocatively entitled ‘The end of
internationalization’. By de Wit’s (2016) own clarification, the piece was motivated less by a concern
about the literal end of internationalization, and more by a concern about its increasingly instrumental
focus. It was primarily a call to ‘rethink and redefine the way we look at the internationalization of
higher education in the present time’ (Brandenburg and de Wit, 2011, p. x). Indeed, rather predict than
the literal end of internationalization, the piece marked a turning point in what would come to be
known as ‘critical internationalization studies’.1 While the piece was hardly the first critique of
internationalization to emerge, it was in this case articulated by two foundational scholars of the field of
internationalization studies, accompanied by further articulations of concern from de Wit (2013, 2014,
2016) as well as another field leader Jane Knight (2011, 2014). Knight (2014) wrote of her concern that
internationalization was ‘losing its way’, lamenting a shift from internationalization as a process rooted
in ‘values of cooperation, partnership, exchange, mutual benefits and capacity building to one that is
increasingly characterised by competition, commercialisation, selfinterest and status building’ (p. 76). At
around the same time, various professional associations made efforts to articulate a principled defense
of more ethical, values-driven approaches to internationalization in education (e.g. Association of
Canadian Deans of Education, 2014; European Association for International Education, 2012;
International Association of Universities, 2012; International Education Association of South Africa,
Only five years later, much has already shifted in the internationalization landscape. For instance, a
more recent piece by Altbach and de Wit (2018) again forecasts the end of internationalization, but this
time in a more literal sense than in the 2011 piece: ‘What one might call “the era of higher education
internationalisation” over the past 25 years (19902015) that has characterized university thinking and
action might either be finished or, at least, be on life support’. However, like the earlier piece, the
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authors are not actually writing a post-mortem on internationalization. Rather, they seek to raise a
question: ‘Are we facing the end of internationalisation or can the negative trends [of the present
moment] also provide new opportunities and a better focus for our efforts?’ In this article, in an effort
to answer this question, I primarily offer a discussion of what I diagnose as the current impasse of
critical internationalization studies. This diagnosis is linked to larger questions about the future of
internationalization, in particular: Can internationalization in higher education be adequate to the task
of preparing people to respond to today’s numerous overlapping global challenges?
With my research group, the Gesturing Towards Decolonial Futures Collective, I summarize these many
global challenges under five major categories:
(1) The systemic colonial violence that underwrites the maintenance of the dominant
socio-economic system (which is premised on invisibilized exploitation and expropriation);
(2) The inherent ecological unsustainability of the dominant socio-economic system
(which is premised on unending growth and consumption that ignores the biophysical
limits of the planet);
(3) The emergence of multiple unprecedented ‘wicked problems’, such as political
instability, extreme weather, economic precarity, mass migration, the cancellation of civil,
human, and labour rights, and a global mental health crisis (which are rooted in systemic
violence and ecological unsustainability, but which represent exponential growth in the
scope, scale, and intensity of these longer patterns);
(4) The intellectual and affective difficulties of ‘imagining otherwise’ when faced with
wicked problems (which is reinforced by a lack of stamina for addressing uncertainty and
complexity, and perceived entitlements to autonomy, coherence, and control);
(5) The imperative to ethically integrate the gifts of multiple knowledge traditions and
practices, so that we might draw on what Santos (2007) calls an ‘ecology of knowledges’
to respond to these problems in ways that contribute to greater collective well-being
(which is difficult to do given tendencies to seek overarching solutions, and to engage
marginalized knowledges through appropriation, projection, or idealization)
In this article, in order to ask whether internationalization can be useful for addressing these challenges,
I consider the impact of the several years of intensified interest in critical approaches to
internationalization in higher education. While the leading scholars of internationalization cited above
hardly initiated the critical turn in internationalization studies, their participation signalled its
mainstreaming and subsequent institutionalization around five years ago. Thus, inspired by de Wit’s
(2014) suggestion at that time that ‘internationalisation in higher education is at a turning point and the
concept of internationalisation requires an update, refreshment and fine-tuning taking into account the
new world and higher education order’ (p. 97), I argue that today the critique of internationalization in
higher education is at a turning point, and the concept of critique requires an update, refreshment, and
deep questioning taking into account both the new world and higher education order and old colonial
I begin the article by briefly reviewing the area of critical internationalization studies. I then consider
some of its potential circularities, in particular as this relates to continued colonial patterns that
manifest in: paradoxes of institutionalizing critique (through the consumption of critique);
romanticization of the past (through colonial amnesia); and desire for simple stories and solutions
(through moves to innocence). Next, in an effort to emphasize the complexities, uncertainties, and
complicities involved in critical approaches to internationalization, I offer two potentially
complementary frameworks that make visible at least some of the multiple possibilities that exist for
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approaching internationalization in a critical mode. Finally, rather than offering a final answer my
orienting question, I multiply it, concluding with a series of open questions that might orient the next
era of (critical) internationalization studies.
Critical internationalization studies and its limits
The internationalization of higher education is commonly framed as a neutral and inevitable response to
contemporary patterns of globalization (Altbach & Knight, 2007; Khoo, 2011). Internationalization has
been deemed instrumental for preparing globally engaged students, producing relevant knowledge, and
generating solutions for an ever more complex and interconnected world (Stein, 2017a). Mainstream
approaches to internationalization are therefore characterized by the presumed innocence and
importance of the ‘internationalisation imperative’ (Buckner & Steinm 2019; George Mwangi et al.,
2018; Suspitsyna, 2015; Vavrus & Pekol, 2015). Yet with the growth of internationalization has also come
growing concern about its potentially harmful implications. Critically oriented scholars and practitioners
increasingly problematize the overwhelmingly positive and depoliticized approaches to
internationalization that tend to dominate in universities, and identify the continuation of enduring
patterns of Eurocentric knowledge production, exploitative relationships, and inequitable access to
Although, as George Mwangi et al. (2018) note, critical approaches are still marginalized in
internationalization scholarship, an emergent strand of research about the ethics and politics of
internationalization can be grouped under the broad umbrella of ‘critical internationalization studies’.
Scholars and practitioners in this area warn that if individuals and institutions become increasingly
interconnected, but power and resources are not redistributed and inherited patterns of relationship
are not reimagined, then this may intensify existing patterns of inequality within an already uneven
global higher education landscape. Despite broadly shared concerns, efforts to critically assess and
reimagine the current orientation of mainstream internationalization are varied. Critical scholarship can
be categorized in different ways for instance, according to the theoretical framework or methodology
employed, or the geographic region of focus. However, it is most common to group it based on the topic
addressed for instance, international student mobility and experiences (e.g. Guo & Guo, 2017;
Oleksiyenko, Cheng, & Yip, 2013), internationalizing the curriculum (e.g. Luckett & Shaym 2017; Stein,
2017), international collaborations (e.g. Adriansen & Madsen, 2019; Omanga & Mainye, 2019), global
rankings (e.g. Amsler, 2014; Shahjahan, Blanco Ramirez, & Andreotti, 2017), (neo-)nationalism and (neo-
)racism (e.g. Lee, 2017; Lee & Rice, 2007; Yao, George Mwangi, & Malaney Brown, 2019), etc.
Reflecting on the emergence of critical ethnic studies, Mitchell (2015) suggests that ‘critique stages our
sometimes mundane and sometimes extravagant desires to make a difference in the world’ (p. 92).
While this is not a problem in and of itself, there is nonetheless a need to be vigilant and attentive to
what underlies these desires, and what efforts to fulfil these desires might unwittingly reproduce.
Mitchell’s insights can be fruitfully, if imperfectly, translated to the context of critical
internationalization studies. How might we be overestimating the impact our critiques, and
underestimating the enormity of the problems we face? In order to unravel and unlearn the inherited
hierarchies and separations that naturalize uneven global relationships, colonial representations, and
resource inequities in higher education, we will need to go beyond quick fixes and look deeply and
unflinchingly at the assumptions that we hold about ourselves and our institutions, and about how
change is made. Critical approaches to internationalization offer a means of doing this work, but they
can also become a means of deflecting examination of the difficulties of substantive change, including
shifting our investments and desires away from the continuity of an inherently violent and unsustainable
system. This means that it is crucial to ask to what extent critiques of internationalization can challenge
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this system. In the following section, I address some emergent circularities of critique that have arisen
with the mainstreaming of critical approaches to internationalization. In particular, I highlight a
persistent failure to reckon with both the enduring role of colonialism in internationalization, and
relatedly, a failure to address complexity, uncertainty, and complicity in our efforts to address this
Paradoxes of institutionalization (consuming critiques)
As noted in the introduction, the mainstreaming of critical internationalization studies has been evident
not only in the scholarly literature but also in the realm of professional associations. For instance, in
their ‘Accord on the Internationalization of Education’, the Association of Canadian Deans of Education
(2014) recognize both potential benefits and risks of internationalization, including the risks of:
exploitative practices rooted in a profit-maximization model; systemic exclusion from participation;
personal and social disruption; (neo)colonization, and compromised safety for participants in
international activities. In response, they promote: economic and social justice and equity; reciprocity as
a foundation for international teaching and research partnerships; sustainability; intercultural
awareness, ethical engagement, understanding and respect; and equity of access to education,
regardless of socioeconomic status or circumstance. The effect of this important intervention, and other
calls for increased ethical accountability in the context of Canadian higher education, is made evident in
some of the more recent international policies and planning documents of individual institutions.
To illustrate, I consider the draft international strategy of my institution, the University of British
Columbia (UBC). I should note that I served on the staff, faculty, and student working group for the plan,
which was only one of many campus constituencies consulted. However, here I comment only on the
document itself, which we discussed at length as part of our meetings, but which I had no role in writing.
In fact, the comments that I offer here echo those that I sent in response to a public request for
feedback on the draft. On the website where the draft is posted, in the first bullet point under a list of
what was learned from consultations with the UBC community, it is noted, ‘You care about the social
purpose of the university and an approach to global engagement that is anti-colonial and rooted in
inclusion, humility, accountability, accessibility and collaboration for mutual benefit’. Although the word
‘anti-colonial’ is not used in the strategy document itself, it does note, ‘We recognize our colonial past
and present, our contribution to systemic inequities, and we commit to advancing global engagement
that rests on a foundation of integrity, inclusivity, equity, accountability, mutual benefit and positive
On the one hand, these explicit recognitions of the university’s complicity in colonialism not only
historically, but also presently are rather remarkable for a document of this kind. On the other hand,
these statements are followed up with no further discussion of precisely which activities make up this
‘colonial past and present’, and no elaboration of particular steps to address this coloniality in policy or
practice. This is despite the fact that there are opportunities for such follow-through in the strategy
itself. For instance, there is a stated intention to ‘create a heatmap of current global engagement’. Part
of this work could be a deeper consideration of the ethical dimensions (including challenges, successes,
and failures) of existing international projects, partnerships and research. Although the strategy
document could be strategically useful for those advocating for anti-colonial actions, it does not commit
the institution to any specific set of activities or responsibilities for which it can be held accountable.
The webpage hosting the draft also notes that through campus consultations, it was learned that ‘You
believe in a UBC that embraces our full diversity where the dichotomy of international versus domestic
disappears, and all students contribute and have access to programs, projects and experiences that
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foster global citizenship’. In the strategy document, this notion of a disappearing dichotomy is absent,
but it is nonetheless worth noting the limits of a discursive ‘flattening’ of national status that is not
accompanied by parallel shifts at the material level. For instance, UBC raised international student
tuition by over 50% between 2015 and 2018, and the fees continue to rise. This equates to a tuition cost
seven times more than domestic students (Zhao, 2019), which reflects trends in the Canadian context
more widely. As Usher (2018) notes, international student fees in Canada have steadily risen, in 2016
2017 making up 35% of all fees collected, compared to 19% ten years earlier. Meanwhile, as domestic
fees have increased at around the rate of inflation plus 2% per year over the past 10 years, for
international students the rate is inflation plus 4% per year (Usher, 2018). It thus appears that, even as
some institutions have deepened their consideration of the ethical dimensions of internationalization, in
a purely material sense, the model of profit-maximization remains in place.
In sum, while the institutionalization of critique can have strategic benefits for those seeking change, it
does not necessary represent an unreservedly positive development, especially when institutions or
other organizations mobilize critique in tokenistic and selective ways. The effect can be to improve their
public image and deflect further critiques, but without actually interrupting the continuation of colonial
business as usual. In this way, consumption and instrumentalization of critique represents a furthering
of colonial relations, and a possible barrier to future critiques of institutions that claim to be ‘already
doing it’ (Ahmed, 2012). Thus, with the institutionalization of critiques of internationalization we often
see a process of appropriation and incorporation ‘where alternatives are again rendered invisible
precisely when they are voiced (but cannot be heard)’ (Shahjahan, Blanco Ramirez, & Andreotti, 2017;
see also Ahenakew, 2016).
Romanticizing the past (colonial amnesia)
As is the case with many critiques of higher education in general, many critiques of internationalization
remain trapped within a horizon of hope that positions a previous era as a golden age. Refusing the
neoliberal lie that ‘there is no alternative’, these critiques turn to the past for resources to defend non-
neoliberal possibilities, which can lead them to romanticize these earlier eras without seeing the
problems they also created. This results in the continued invisibility of the colonial logics that orient
not only mainstream internationalization, but many critical approaches to internationalization as well. In
the critical vein, this tends to take the form of a romanticization about the post-World War II/Cold
War era of internationalization. According to Trilokekar (2015), the period from 1945 to 1960 was a
‘Golden Age’ of international education in both the US and Canada. It is by now common-place to
describe a marked shift between internationalization based on ‘aid’ during the post-World War II/Cold
War era to internationalization based on ‘trade’ in the present. For instance, Johnstone and Lee (2014)
lament that ‘since the 1990s there has been a shift in Canada’s policy from a pursuit of world peace and
social justice to the imperial “center and periphery” dichotomy that characterizes neocolonial
globalization with monopolies of wealth, knowledge and power’ (p. 212). From the perspective of a
critique of the move from ‘aid to trade’, a firm distinction is maintained between NorthSouth
educational relationships premised on aid and those oriented by economic interests, with a noted
preference for the former. However, if at one level contemporary marketization represents a significant
shift from the post-WWII/Cold War approach, it is also necessary to consider to what extent these
earlier approaches were indeed more benevolent.
Many have pointed to the fact the international higher education during this era was largely oriented by
Cold War rivalries (which included many intermittent ‘hot wars’) and competition for dominance and
influence in the Global South, in particular competition between the US and its allies, and the USSR and
its allies. Indeed, according to de Wit (2002), ‘NorthSouth relations dominated internationalization
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strategies in higher education in the period from 19501985’ (p. 12). For instance, McCartney (2016)
argues that in Canada, international student policy of this era was tightly bound up in the government’s
concerns about ‘Canada’s changing place in the world’, specifically, its ‘role in the Cold War and its
emergence as an international economic power’ (p. 4). The welcoming of international students was
rooted in an anti-communist desire that students would return to their home countries as vectors of
capitalism generally, and of Canada’s national economic interests specifically. Thus, the stated aims of
treating international students as aid recipients are rooted in instrumental national interests. These
aims also tend to belie a paternalistic presumption of colonial noblesse oblige to transmit supposedly
universal knowledge and skills from the Global North to the Global South (Stein & Andreotti, 2016).
Ultimately, there is much to be lamented about recent developments in relation to internationalization
over the past few years, in particular, intensified marketization through the soldification of an
educational credential export market (Andreotti, Thiago, & Stein, 2018), and the growth of xenophobia
in many popular host countries like the US and the UK (Rizvi, 2019). However, in some ways concerns
about the ‘decline’ of internationalization appears to be a thinly veiled concern about a potential
declining advantage and dominance of Western higher education. In particular, there is decreasing
certainty that there will be a perpetual pool of international students willing to pay exorbitant prices to
study in Western institutions. One can find, for instance, numerous news articles about institutions
seeking to ‘diversify’ their international student ‘markets’, as a buffer against potential declines in
enrolment. When the previous eras are not evaluated with an adequately critical lens, particularly one
focused on colonial relations, but rather a Euro-centred nostalgia, it becomes easier to uncritically frame
the perceived risk of ‘decline’ in the West as a collective, universally-experienced loss.
As Bolsmann and Miller (2008) contend, internationalization is ‘a continuation of former imperial and
political connections that have evolved into financially beneficial markets and sources of income for
western universities’ (p. 80). However, there is a sanctioned ignorance of the history of colonial
relationships in internationalization that is often reproduced in the romanticization of the post-World
War II/Cold War era. Thus, proposed solutions or alternatives to existing problems and arrangements of
internationalization will risk reproducing harm if they fail to fully account for the colonial history, and to
fully transform the enduring colonial dimensions, that shape internationalization. That being said, we
cannot simply say that current forms of internationalization are an extension of earlier eras of
colonialism, and leave it at that. We must ask about the specificities of the current context, including by
addressing the complexities and uncertainties that have developed. If Altbach and de Wit (2018) are
indeed correct that we are ‘seeing a fundamental shift in higher education internationalisation’, then
‘that will mean rethinking the entire international project of universities worldwide’.
Seeking simple stories and solutions (moves to innocence)
A specific set of moralized framings has emerged within the critical internationalization literature,
which I summarize as narratives oriented around ‘3 Vs’: victims (i.e. those defined by their
marginalization); villains (i.e. those defined by the harm they cause); and victors (i.e. those defined by
their heroic resistance to oppression and their fight for greater equity). It is vitally important to identify
and denaturalize how racial, economic, national and other power structures as well as individual
choices strongly shape how people are unevenly positioned in relation to processes and policies of
internationalization in higher education. At the same time, the landscape of internationalization is
incredibly complex and power is multidimensional, meaning that this kind of simplistic framing is
inadequate for understanding all of the forces at play. In the context of internationalization, individuals
may be marginalized in some ways, and advantaged in others.
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Apart from an overall erasure of these complexities of complicity, there are at least three limitations
of the ‘3V’ framing. First, it frames people as one-dimensional and thus does not allow space for the
complex personhood of the most marginalized. According to Gordon (1997)
Complex personhood means that the stories people tell about themselves, about their
troubles, about their social worlds, and about their society’s problems are entangled
and weave between what is immediately available as a story and what their
imaginations are reaching toward…complex personhood is about conferring the
respect on others that comes from presuming that life and people’s lives are
simultaneously straightforward and full of enormously subtle meaning. (pp. 4–5)
Instead, the 3Vs either defines marginalized people by their traumas (as victims), or presents them as
heroic protagonists (victors) who are tasked with undertaking transformative institutional change
toward greater justice for the benefit of all.
Second, the 3V framing is often articulated out of a desire to identify and align oneself with the
‘victims’ and/or the ‘victors’ as a means to avoid confronting one’s responsibility in harm (and possibly
seeing oneself as a ‘villain’). Third, and relatedly, this framing masks the fact that within the colonial-
capitalist global landscape of higher education, no ‘purely’ innocent position exists even among those
who are structurally excluded or marginalized (Mitchell, 2015). Simply having a critique of a problem
does not inoculate one from being part of the problem, and being marginalized in one way does not
preclude one from being complicit in others’ marginalization. As Shotwell (2016) notes, ‘complicity
carries differential weight with our social position’, yet no matter who we are ‘we are not, ever, pure.
We’re complicit, implicated, tied in to things we abjure’ (p. 6). To assume otherwise grossly
underestimates the scope and scale of the challenge of undoing the effects of hundreds of years of
colonial violence in and on higher education. None of this is to say that greater equity is not worth
fighting for; but on another level, seeking justice within an inherently ethically compromised system that
is only made possible through ongoing racialized exploitation and expropriation, and ecologically
unsustainable practices of capital accumulation, will always be a limited horizon of justice.
Finally, there is a need to problematize the desire not only for simple stories but also simple solutions.
DiAngelo and Sensoy (2010) respond to the common request that they provide a checklist or other
ready-made answers for how to enact multicultural education by emphasizing that this would not be an
effective or sustainable means of interrupting inequality. Instead, this requires an ongoing practice and
the ability to: appreciate the importance of complexity and socio-historical context when it comes to
responding to any particular situation; cultivate sensitivity to ongoing patterns of inequality that have
become naturalized habits, and develop the stamina and courage to address these patterns when they
are reproduced; commit to continuous learning (and unlearning); and approach this work with humility
about one’s ignorances and self-reflexivity about one’s complicity in harm. I find this framing useful for
addressing the limits of critical approaches to internationalization that are always accompanied by
prescriptive solutions.
None of this is to say that immediate action is not important for reducing harm, but rather that a more
nuanced, long-term approach is also necessary. Part of the reason this may be perceived as less
desirable is that simple solutions are perceived to be a faster way to restore one’s sense of innocence
from complicity in harm (Jefferess, 2012; Tuck & Yang, 2012), and easier than doing the difficult,
uncomfortable work of unlearning one’s investments in harm. Beyond the desire for innocence, there is
often also: (1) a desire to know precisely what to do (i.e. a desire for intellectual certainty, which is
rooted in the colonial sense that mastery of/over knowledge enables one to better describe, predict,
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and control the world); and, (2) a desire to be the one to do it (i.e. a desire for moral authority and
‘goodness’, which is rooted in a colonial sense of entitlement to lead, adjudicate what is just, and
to be redeemed through the virtuousness of one’s actions). Together, this sense of intellectual certainty
and moral authority provide a sense of security that buffers one from potentially seeing and sensing the
full extent of the problems that might otherwise fall under the umbrella of critical internationalization
studies. Yet to address the coloniality of internationalization will require that we stay with
uncomfortable feelings of uncertainty, insecurity, and equivocal authority, and it will require that we not
only do things differently, or even just think about them differently, but that we actually learn to be
differently. In order for this to be possible, we will likely need to disinvest from the desire for specific
and immediate outcomes from the process of change, letting go of the desire to remain in control of the
process itself, and dispensing with the search for assurances that we will remain the same.
Addressing complexity and uncertainty with social cartography Rather than offer a revised critical
framework from which to approach internationalization, or declare the end of critical
internationalization studies and abandon it, I propose that learning to work with and through
complexity, uncertainty, and complicity will be vital for any effort to prepare ourselves and our
institutions for today’s many complex global challenges. Here, I offer two different social cartographies
intended to pluralize existing approaches to critical internationalization studies; then I consider how
they overlap within a single matrix. Social cartographies are maps of multiple ways of framing a shared
issue of concern in this case, internationalization. This enables those who engage the maps to trace
implicit political and theoretical investments and assumptions of the different approaches, to better
understand the relationships between different approaches, and to more fully appreciate the
possibilities and limitations that each can produce (Andreotti et al., 2016; Paulston, 2009).
Unlike representational mapping, which claims to capture every existing possibility, social cartographies
emphasize particular dimensions and de-emphasize others; they can also map absences as a means of
gesturing towards possibilities that are viable, but currently unimaginable or unintelligible to most
people. The resulting map is always partial and provisional, and in this sense, invites further engagement
and an endless practice of critical conversations rooted in humility about one’s own assumptions about
the root causes and possible solutions to shared problems. Thus, social cartographies are produced with
the assumption that any practical decisions or solutions that are derived from engaging with a map will
be situated, limited, and strategic, rather than universal. Because of this, cartographies can serve as
useful tools for scholars and practitioners who are seeking to meet the immediate challenges of their
context, without collapsing the complexity and uncertainty inherent to the challenge at hand and thus,
without foreclosing the possibility of dissent and future revisions.
The first cartography maps three different theories of change that can orient critical internationalization
studies: liberal, anti-oppressive, and decolonial. The second cartography maps three different layers of
intervention specifically, intervening at the level of doing, thinking, or being. In creating these
cartographies, I draw on and revise some of my earlier cartographies of internationalization in order to
offer a more succinct view of both the available and invisibilized possibilities for (and limitations of)
reimagining internationalization (see Stein, 2015, 2017a, 2017b; Stein, Andreotti, & Suša 2019; Stein et
al., 2016).
Three orientations to critical internationalization studies
The first and the most dominant approach to critical internationalization studies seeks to reframe
‘internationalization for the global public good’. This approach tends to draw on liberal theories of
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change that address inequality through expanded opportunities and access, and address bias through
greater awareness, representation, and intercultural understanding. This is generally the approach taken
by leaders of the internationalization studies field in their critiques of a shift toward a more
instrumental, commercial, and competitive approach, as outlined in the introduction of this article.
Generally, this shift is framed in relation to an earlier era of internationalization in which, according to
this narrative, the emphasis was about development and capacity building in the Global South. The
emphasis here is on adjusting dominant policies and practices to ensure a ‘balancing of. cost, quality,
and access’ (Knight, 2014, p. 79), and creating a welcoming environment that embraces and celebrates
the diversity of international students and faculty. This approach is captured in the example of efforts to
orient internationalization toward achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 (e.g.
International Association of Universities, 2017). It tends to emphasize abstract notions of (in)equality
and exchange, and to minimize questions of injustice and exploitation. Questions that go unasked in this
approach to internationalization are questions such as: who gets to determine what constitutes the
global public good, and how do ‘development’ projects tend to recentre Western knowledges and
Western ideas of ‘the good life’ in ways that silence marginalized communities and contribute to greater
ecological destruction and economic exploitation and expropriation (Ziai, 2019)?
The second approach is that of ‘internationalization for global solidarity’, which tends to identify and
address problems of: exploitation by seeking redistribution; competition by seeking collective action;
silencing by speaking truth to power; and epistemic inequality by seeking to centre marginalized
knowledges. This approach is oriented by various anti-oppressive theories of change that problematize
racism, capitalism, sexism, nationalism, etc., such as those drawn from anti-capitalist, transnational
feminist, and post-colonial theories. The critical approach described by George Mwangi et al. (2018)
captures this theory of change well: ‘Critical research promotes transforming the status quo, rectifying
injustices and inequities, and understanding power relations to illuminate oppression, exploitation, and
marginalization’. Overall, this approach is much more concerned than the global public good approach
to directly address historical and ongoing power inequities on a global scale including political,
economic, and epistemic power. In this approach, it is believed that internationalization can serve as a
means of empowering marginalized individuals and communities toward making systemic change if the
available resources are mobilized strategically. One example of this approach is the Scholars at Risk
network, which ‘works to protect threatened scholars and promote academic freedom around the
world’. Another example could be student protests that emerge on campus when international student
tuition fees are raised at rates much higher than domestic student tuition to protest this inequity.
Despite the systemic critique of this approach, it nonetheless assumes that existing institutions can be
reformed to achieve greater global justice through internationalization efforts.
The third and final approach that I review here is one of ‘internationalization otherwise’, which is
generally oriented by de-/anti-/post-colonial, abolitionist and Indigenous critiques. I summarize this
being oriented by decolonial theories of change, but notably, one may use some of the same critiques
in this approach as in the anti-oppressive approach. However, the conclusions that are drawn from
these critiques differ considerably between the two approaches. In particular, decolonial theories of
change emphasize that systemic forms of domination are not just material and epistemic, but also
ontological that is, they sanction particular modes of existence, and foreclose others. Compared
to anti-oppressive theories of change, decolonial theories of change are not prescriptive of what or how
change should happen. That is, while decolonial, post-colonial, abolitionist and Indigenous critiques and
practices are understood to be useful for recognizing enduring colonial patterns, asking difficult
questions, and gesturing toward other possibilities, to seek within these theories a prescriptive
(re)solution would be to route them back into the same set of colonial entitlements that they challenge.
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The emphasis is thus not on achieving any particular shift in policy or practice but rather on a form of
internationalization that might prepare us to surrender our learned sense of superiority and separation,
and affirm our radical interdependence with and responsibility to each other and the earth itself. This
theory of change is only just emerging, and so while there are undoubtedly examples, they are generally
activities happening in the ‘cracks’ of existing institutions or programmes, and thus are not readily
visible or perhaps even recognizable as internationalization.
Three layers of intervention in internationalization
There are three primary layers in which one can make change in relation to internationalization (see
Andreotti et al. 2018; Stein 2019 for a more detailed examination of these layers). The first layer is
methodological, in which change is enacted through making shifts to inherited forms of practice and
policy making and implementation. The emphasis is on shifting the means of accomplishing a set of
tasks or goals more effectively or efficiently, without shifting the task or goal itself. The overall
orientation is of doing things differently. In the context of internationalization, this kind of intervention
might be about things like shifting how international admissions are determined at the institutional
level, or how federal immigration policies assess international student visa applications. Note that the
actual direction or intended outcome of these kinds of intervention will be determined by other factors
in particular, the theory of change that is orienting those who are making the intervention. This is the
case for all of the layers of intervention that I will review in this section. One can conceivably intervene
in any of these three layers in relation to any theory of change and vice versawhich is why I offer
examples of the kinds of questions that one might ask the intersection of different theories of change
and different layers of intervention in Table 1.
The second layer of intervention is epistemological, in which questions are raised about the politics
of knowledge, including whose knowledge is considered valid and valuable, and what different
possibilities emerge when we create space for not only doing things differently, but also thinking about
things differently. This means not only rethinking how change is made, but also the intended outcome of
the change itself. One might therefore ask where and how a particular idea of change was derived, who
and how it was decided that this idea would dominate rather than another possibility, and what would
be required to shift dominant frames of reference. These are more systemic, politicized, and contextual
questions than are asked in an intervention focused on doing things differentlyquestions about who
decides, in whose name, and for whose benefit. In the context of internationalization, this kind of
intervention might consider things like what should be taught in international student orientations, and
what instructors should consider when they want to enhance the international dimension of their
The third and final layer of intervention is ontological, in which the focus is not about doing or thinking
differently, but rather about being differently. Concerns here relate to the nature of existence, including
the nature of time, space, relationships, language, knowledge, and other taken for granted categories
and senses about what is relevant, real, possible, and desirable and what isn’t. Often these kinds of
interventions are working toward not just making changes within an existing system, but total system
change that is, an entirely different system. In relation to internationalization, interventions in this
layer might relate to shifting peoples’ sense of global interdependence, or asking what alternatives
appear possible before considering the possibility that there are alternatives that are viable but
invisibilized within the existing system.
Before concluding this section, there are a few things to note about the approaches I have described
and mapped, including both the theories of change and the layers of intervention. First, they are not
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exhaustive of all possible approaches to internationalization, just some of the most common. Second,
none of these approaches are mutually exclusive indeed, a single institution or even person might
have elements of their work oriented by more than one or even all of these theories of change or layers
of intervention. Each approach can be mobilized differently depending on the context and what is
possible in that particular time and space. Finally, I note that in addition to the three theories of change
reviewed above, for Table 1, I have also added (neo-)conservative and neoliberal theories of change in
order to illustrate through comparison the different kinds of questions that one might ask from different
(not just critical) approaches.
Table 1. Example Questions at the Interface of Different Theories of Change and Layers of Intervention in
the Context of Higher Education Internationalization
Concluding questions
In this article, I have asked whether internationalization in higher education can be adequate to the task
of preparing people to respond to today’s numerous overlapping global challenges. I have suggested
that we need to answer this question in light not only of the limitations of mainstream approaches to
internationalization, but also of the common circularities of critical internationalization studies. I
concluded that most available solutions, horizons of hope, and tools of critique are not adequate to the
task that is demanded of us by the present and its many global challenges. However, rather than offer
(Internationalization to
retain/restore power)
for profit)
for global public good)
for global solidarity)
(level of doing)
How can we
enhance screening
and tracking
for international
students to ensure
national security?
What recruitment
practices can
increase the
numbers of
What kinds of
trainings can
ensure that staff
and students
develop (inter-)
cultural competency?
How can we recruit
and retain more
economically, and
racially diverse
students and
What kind of
pedagogical exercises
could show the
limitations of both
mainstream and
critical approaches to
(level of
How can we ensure
does not lead to the
devaluation of
Western knowledges?
What do university
graduates need to
know to compete in
a global knowledge
economy and labour
How can we
encourage faculty to
include more diverse
texts and authors on
their course syllabi?
How can we address
inequity across all
areas of the
curriculum, etc)?
How can we learn to
discern, distinguish
between, and value
equally, that which is
known, unknown, and
(level of being)
How can we ensure
that the presence of
students/faculty does
not threaten the
integrity and
continuity of ‘our’
values, knowledge,
and way of life?
How can we
transform the
purpose of higher
education to ensure
that we meet
research innovation
and training needs of
global businesses?
How can we ensure
that students feel
connected to and
responsible for
communities beyond
their immediate
contexts (on a global
How can we
ensure that other
ways of being are
not simply included
in the institution, but
also valued, centred,
and rewarded?
How can we
denaturalize the
presumed supremacy
of and desire for
Western higher
education, and
ethically encounter
other ways of knowing
and being?
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an alternative approach to internationalization that would be able to adequately meet these challenges,
I invited deepened engagements with the complexities of critique, and the circularities that often arise
in efforts to make positive change. Ultimately, we will need different kinds of research and
conversations about internationalization, conversations that can open up a space in which we can admit
to ourselves and to each other that the problems we face are enormous, and in which we can ask
earnestly how we got here, why we keep repeating circular colonial moves, and how we might
experiment with ways to interrupt this circularity without assuming we know how to do it.
To conclude, inspired by Scott’s (2004) call to rethink not only the answers but also the questions that
animate critical scholarship so that we might be more responsive to the particular challenges of the
current conjuncture, I pose several questions that might enable us to be more attentive to the many
local and global challenges that we face in the present in order to pluralize possible futures, without
losing sight of the past and the history through which we arrived here:
How might critiques of internationalization be circularly reproducing the same colonial logics
that we seek to interrupt? Can we offer a critique that does not reproduce these logics, given
issues of (un)intelligibility and the difficulties of imagining otherwise?
What kind of critical interventions in internationalization would be relevant, rigorous, and
impactful in the current context, particularly given dispersed knowledge authorities and
increased competition for epistemic space and attention (Bauman, 2001)?
How can critical interventions attend to the complexities and complicities of
internationalization, instead of seeking simplistic narratives and solutions?
How can we ensure that in seeking to decenter the West we do not simply propose a new
centre that will repeat underlying colonial patterns of hierarchy and universality?
How might (often unconscious) colonial investments in, desires for, and perceived
entitlements to things that come with internationalization (e.g. increased funding, increased
research opportunities) contradict intellectual critiques of the potential harms of
What kinds of practices and pedagogies, in addition to critique, could interrupt these
investments, desires, and perceived entitlements?
Should critical internationalization studies scholars abandon struggles over the meaning or
purpose of internationalization, and simply conduct internationalization by another name? Or
should we strategically utilize the name of internationalization and reframe its meanings for
projects that contest mainstream institutional goals?
How can we fight for more equitable and ethical internationalization in the present, knowing
that our critiques will likely be co-opted, and that higher education itself is subsidized by
violent and unsustainable (local and global) practices?
Some climate change scholars have argued that we may still be underestimating the risks
involved in climate change, and may have less time than we think until we face climate
collapse (e.g. Bendell, 2018; Spratt & Dunlop, 2017). While it is impossible to say for sure, if
this even a possibility, then what approaches to internationalization could help us prepare
ourselves and others for this possible near future?
1. I credit Dr. Amy Metcalfe with coining the term ‘Critical Internationalization Studies’.
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... Many of these policies are the result of explicit recommendations from powerful intergovernmental organisations such as the World Bank (Shahjahan 2012;Shahjahan and Edwards 2021), which are reproduced and reinforced by international rankings (Buckner 2022). However, many of these narratives respond to a Western imaginary of internationalisation (Shahjahan 2016;Stein 2021;Stein and de Andreotti 2016; . ...
... This includes consideration of the new world and higher education order as well as the persistent colonial continuities. (Stein 2021(Stein , 1772 This article argues that there are competing narratives of internationalisation that are the result of tensions arising from the intersection of global, national and local forces with inequalities and colonial power, and that these tensions create challenges particularly in countries with a colonial legacy (Guzmán-Valenzuela 2022; Heleta and Chasi 2022). Currently, the internationalisation of higher education has become a powerful trend shaping higher education around the world, with this trend emanating mainly from Western countries in the wealthy countries of the Global North. ...
... Moreover, according to Stein (2021), these positive and depoliticised stances do not sufficiently acknowledge ongoing patterns of Eurocentric knowledge production, exploitative relations and unequal access to resources. In essence, Stein argues that while internationalisation can offer opportunities, it can also reinforce and perpetuate certain power dynamics and inequalities. ...
This paper critically examines narratives of internationalisation in higher education, highlighting three core narratives: a normative narrative that emphasises economic growth and quality education, a critical narrative that challenges internationalisation as a hegemonic market-based force, and a narrative that addresses colonial legacies, the latter two narratives with considerations from Latin America. The study analyses policy documents from international agencies and two influential books, revealing the dominance of normative, Western-rooted narratives and the marginalisation of critical voices that have limited impact on policy. The paper argues for challenging the normative narrative and its neglect of regional specificities and colonial histories in favour of redistributive logics and social inclusion. It highlights the dangers of conceiving of internationalisation as a ‘one size fits all’ approach, focusing exclusively on economic and quality aspects, and suggests that a critical evaluation of internationalisation can contribute to the decolonisation of higher education narratives.
... These challenges include the perpetuation of local and global colonial legacies (Huaman et al., 2019;Majee & Ress, 2018), the exacerbation of higher education's global carbon footprint (Shields, 2019), the intensification of market-oriented practices (Bamberger et al., 2019), and the emergence of neo-racism and neo-nationalism (Lee, 2016;Lee & Rice, 2007). As general awareness of these challenges has grown, more people have also begun to address the complexity and multidimensionality of the problems internationalisation creates and exacerbates, recognising that there are no simple solutions and those of us who critique internationalisation are also implicated in it (George Mwangi et al., 2018;Stein, 2021). ...
... Based on this perspective, critical internationalisation is also an invitation to challenge the oftentimes-dominant discourse that positions the internationalisation of higher education as inherently positive or at least neutral; an apolitical and ahistorical process of win-win global engagement (Stein, 2021;Vavrus & Pekol, 2015). It is a call to recognise the historical and ongoing roles of colonialism and capitalism in higher education, including by critically examining how knowledge production and academic standards uphold and normalise Western oppression and ways of knowing (Stein and Andreotti, 2017). ...
... It is a call to recognise the historical and ongoing roles of colonialism and capitalism in higher education, including by critically examining how knowledge production and academic standards uphold and normalise Western oppression and ways of knowing (Stein and Andreotti, 2017). Critical internationalisation is not simply about critiquing what is flawed with our current practices, but more substantively it entails a "deep questioning taking into account both the new world and higher education order and old colonial continuities" (Stein, 2021(Stein, , p.1772). ...
... Internationalization as Westernization has been written about extensively including in this publication (Sperduti, 2017) as linguistic dominance, privileging Western epistemologies, and reinforcing an inequitable pattern of global centers and peripheries (Altbach, 2016). Scholars have aptly called attention to the depoliticization and romanticization (Buckner & Stein, 2020;Stein, 2021) of internationalization rhetoric that contrasts with practice (Tight, 2021). Internationalization's public good is no longer assumed. ...
... Internationalization's public good is no longer assumed. It is now questioned (Fabricius et al., 2017;Tight, 2021) by critical perspectives increasingly accepted in the mainstream (Stein, 2021). ...
... GLAC&U fall within broader competing global imaginaries (Stein, 2017(Stein, , 2021. A critical international studies lens prompts me to interrogate the ideological underpinnings of internationalization instead of its structures or practices (George Mwangi & Yao, 2020). ...
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Global liberal arts colleges and universities are an understudied trend in international education for the decade 2010-2020. This scholarly essay incorporates practitioner knowledge and scholarship to explore what, who, and where these global liberal arts colleges and universities are. Moreover, these institutions are situated within wider competing internationalization ideologies. The author applies a critical internationalization studies lens and a mapping framework to analyze their underlying motivations and discover whether global liberal arts colleges and universities might present a source of critical hope.
... For example, Yang [74] points out that recent major geopolitical tensions might have already produced, and will likely continue to produce, negative implications for international student mobility-unlike relatively positive outcomes produced during past geopolitical crises. Nonetheless, the topic and approach are still understudied in higher education scholarship [24,66]. Further to this, amongst scholarship that examines how international students are constructed as agents of geopolitical relations, studies prioritize academic news sources [51,68]. ...
... Uneven geopolitical relationships complicate the internationalization of higher education, and further underline the importance of international politics in the mobility of international postsecondary students. Despite the salience of these relationships and their impacts, there is a tendency towards constructing depoliticized approaches to education internationalization [24,66]. Further to this, there is a gulf between individuals' lived experiences and international politics in international relations literature. ...
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Unlabelled: As part of a larger study, this paper presents findings from my exploration of discourses about China-US geopolitics through popular discussions on Chinese international students (CIS) who are attending American universities during the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. The study seeks to advance scholarship for international students attending American colleges, with particular implications for Chinese students, as agents of geopolitical relations. In doing so, it investigates (a) how these students are represented in American media and (b) the criticality of international geopolitics in the mobility of international students. The findings reveal that American popular media sources assume a tone when writing about CIS that may stem from a deeper anti-Chinese sentiment that exists in the US. They also suggest that American institutions of higher education, and American companies that employ CIS after graduation, treat these students as imported subjects/objects that support America's intellectual and economic advancement. In doing so, the media perpetuates narratives of geopolitical tensions between the United States and China, while representing CIS as unwitting agents of those tensions. The study seeks to advance scholarship on international students attending US colleges, particularly those from China, during an era of rising populism and right-wing movements in the US coupled with rapidly deteriorating US-China relations. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s12140-023-09409-5.
... Lichan (2015:9) argues that learning challenges need to be emphasised when studying the challenges associated with transitioning to universities outside one's country of origin because oftentimes international students and staff find themselves exposed to "unfamiliar learning and teaching methods, bombarded by unexpected and disorienting cues and subjected to ambiguous and conflicting expectations". Studies conducted in this realm also reveal that adapting to different accents may also be a huge challenge for international students and staff, especially in cases where they do not share similar languages with the host communities (Griffith et al., 2005;Jones et al., 2021;Mok & Marginson, 2021;Stein, 2021). In fact, Ching et al. (2017: 477) conclude, "Learning in a foreign environment involves the learners' prior knowledge about cultural taboos, social expectations, learning approaches, and the subject matter. ...
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Globalisation and international student and staff mobility are not new phenomena, and South African universities have been fairly successful in the recruitment of internationals-particularly from other African countries, yet the challenges associated with internationalising universities remain persistent. This study sought to examine the challenges faced by international students and staff at a rural university in South Africa. We relied on a qualitative research approach which enabled us to rely on semi-structured interviews with international students, staff, and managers from the university's International Office. The findings revealed that while some of the opportunities for studying and working abroad are to widen one's horizons and experience new cultures, international students and staff often experience difficulties such as language barriers, culture shocks, mental health issues, and financial pressures when adapting to their new context. We recommended that there be behavioural interventions, cultural interventions, and also financial support for student and staff expatriates.
... Many scholars hoped internationalization would emphasize ethical goals by being a "service to the body of worldwide nation-states" (Scott, 2006, p. 33) and maximizing global public goods (Marginson, 2011, p. 430). However, as a well-developed body of literature within critical university and critical internationalization studies argues, HE has always been, and continues to be, unjustly entangled with the state and capitaleven as the specific configurations of these relationships change over time (Stein, 2021a). Despite efforts to the contrary (e.g. de Wit, 2020), economic and pragmatic goals dominate internationalization's agenda (Guo & Guo, 2017). ...
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As education-migration (edugration) blurs the line between international student and immigrant recruitment in some jurisdictions, higher education admission is becoming linked to settler nation-building projects. Using critical discourse analysis, this article examines the Canadian higher education sector’s response to COVID-19 through pre-budget submissions to the House of Commons of Canada Standing Committee on Finance for the 2021 federal budget. Findings demonstrate how institutions instrumentalized international students to position themselves as valuable actors in Canada’s immigration regime and justify their requests for public financial support. In this way, nation-building through immigration – both globally, as an imperial power, and domestically, as a colonial power – is now a new societal role of higher education which is becoming hegemonic within institutions. This is significant because, as higher education’s purposes align with those of economic immigration, the sector not only fails to interrupt, but itself reproduces, systemic patterns of border imperialism and settler-colonialism. The article urges higher education institutions to (1) more deeply consider how a reliance on international student enrolment is impacting its societal roles, while also (2) avoid exceptionalizing the present by recognizing that higher education has long functioned in the service of the state as a colonial and imperialist power.
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Estudantes de licenciatura no Brasil têm focado, em seus cursos, nas disciplinas da graduação. Alguns desenvolvem pesquisas, outros participam em atividades de extensão ofertadas. Porém, poucos atuam na extensão preparando e desenvolvendo a sua oferta para a comunidade externa. Poucos também são os trabalhos que registram práticas de pesquisa nesse contexto extensionista. Levando em conta essa lacuna é que o presente artigo, cujo foco está em cursos de formação de professores de inglês, objetiva discutir alguns dos efeitos da formação docente que se dá em contexto extensionista. Trata-se de um trabalho autoetnográfico de pesquisa no qual as duas autoras refletem sobre aprendizados proporcionados pela experiência extensionista, a partir de olhares decoloniais em diálogo com os estudos de letramentos. Os resultados apontam para uma formação de professores de inglês mais ampla e conectada com o fazer docente, quando atividades extensionistas são parte da formação docente.
We explore the literature on internationalization in higher education and distinguish between the mainstream and radical approaches to critical scholarship. We argue that the mainstream approach continues to steer internationalization towards socially progressive and equitable aims, while growing concerns have surfaced especially with regard to its commercialization. We focus on the postcolonial approach and suggest that it has inherent limitations stemming from its roots in a ‘modern global/colonial imaginary’ based on an outdated bipolar or unipolar, rather than multipolar, view of geopolitics. In the analysis of higher education, this perspective fails to recognize contemporary forms of colonialism and, in contrast to other strands of critical scholarship, neglects the shifting nature of geopolitics and the various forms and locations of colonialism. Consequently, we argue that the postcolonial approach becomes myopic, as it tends to be West-centric, selectively critical and denies local agency. Moreover, it falls short in explaining the motives behind internationalization in diverse contexts. Therefore, we argue for a plurality of critical approaches, widely applied, to gain a comprehensive understanding of internationalization on a global scale.
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Calls to "re-think" and "re-define" internationalization of higher education (IoHE) have been increasingly noted in the literature (Heleta & Chasi, 2022). This article takes the institutional archives of Qatar University to look back and consider what the past could mean for the future of internationalization on the campus. I highlight the importance of studying the context of Qatar University in which internationalization unfolds, including its institutional history and geopolitical surroundings. By examining the historical, cultural, and social contexts/networks in which QU is embedded, I argue that QU has been portrayed as an international project from the onset, although one motivated by Third-Worldist, Islamic, and Arab notions of solidarity and, equally importantly, one critical of Western hegemony. While I am cautious of romanticizing the past, I discuss how looking backward helps IoHE scholars think less of internationalization as a fixed phenomenon and moves the goal toward offering a more plural understanding of what internationalization can mean in different contexts. Through this case study of QU, I contribute to efforts within this critical strand of research to recenter IoHE conversations from "Euro-American-centric internationalisation definitions, strategies, policies, approaches, and practices" to other parts of the world (Heleta & Chasi, 2022, p. 2).
This chapter explores the variations in employability concepts as applied to international students. It highlights the fact that international students are a diverse population with different mobility experiences and employability outcomes. It also sheds light on the fact that students from the same country may not have a common study abroad or employability experience. The intersectionality of students, including factors such as age, class, race, ethnicity, and gender, contributes to the variability of their experiences. Additionally, it critiques traditional employability theories, which are framed within the Global North lens and influenced by a market-oriented approach, and introduces the concept of critical employability, which prioritizes diversity and equity in higher education and employability. Focusing on critical employability for students is important because colonialism, in its various forms, influences student development of self and affects how a student develops and uses their agency to understand employability pathways.KeywordsInternational studentsEmployabilityGlobal SouthProfessional skillsProductivityCollege education
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Internationalization continues to be a priority within many Canadian universities. While it is imperative to attend to the ethical dilemmas that accompany the intensification of internationalization, different ethical frameworks operate according to different orientating assumptions. In this paper, we seek to pluralize and deepen conversations about the ethics of internationalization by illustrating how three global ethics approaches address questions of international student mobility, study and service abroad, and internationalizing the curriculum. We conclude by emphasizing the need for both scholars and practitioners to engage in multi-voiced, critically-informed analyses, and dissensual conversations about complex ethical dilemmas related to internationalization.
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Through a historical and comparative analysis of international education policy development in Canada and the U.S., this paper will map the similarities and differences in the two countries. It will highlight the contributions and challenges of the government’s involvement in international education (IE) in the two federal states and in particular, explore the implications of the changing contexts, rationales and approaches for international education to the federal role in higher education. It will conclude with observations on the differential impact of the federal government’s role in international/higher education on the higher education systems of the two countries and thus contribute to our understanding of how national specificities and characteristics outweigh the commonly stated policy rationales, approaches and outcomes for international education.
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In this article we reflect on how internationalization is articulated in different ways within the context of a relatively new global educational credentials export industry (GEEI). This industry emerged largely as a response to decreased public funding of higher education in specific 'education export' countries. We take Canada as an example of one of these countries, to illustrate how the marketization of internationalization in higher education is reproduced and contested within that context. We contrast how internationalization is articulated in Canada with the context of internationalization in Brazil. We offer the case of a Brazilian university - UNILA, the Federal University for Latin American Integration, as an example of internationalization that attempts to challenge the global credentials export industry. mple. The example of UNILA shows how a commitment to international public service stands in contrast to transactional internationalization processes that sustain dominant trends of student and knowledge flows in North-South asymmetrical engagements.
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As institutional commitments to internationalize higher education continue to grow, so too does the need to critically consider both the intended purposes and actual outcomes of the programs and policies that result. In particular, there is a risk that internationalization efforts may contribute to the reproduction of harmful historical and ongoing global patterns of educational engagement. In this paper we explore these issues by offering a social cartography of four possible articulations of internationalization, and considering their relation to an often-unacknowledged global imaginary, which presumes a colonial hierarchy of humanity. We also address the practical and pedagogical possibilities and limitations of enacting each articulation within mainstream institutional settings, and propose that social cartographies offer a means of reframing and deepening engagement with the complexities, tensions, and paradoxes involved in internationalizing higher education.
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Internationalization continues to be a priority within many Canadian universities. While it is imperative to attend to the ethical dilemmas that accompany the intensification of internationalization, different ethical frameworks operate according to different orientating assumptions. In this paper, we seek to pluralize and deepen conversations about the ethics of internationalization by illustrating how three global ethics approaches address questions of international student mobility, study and service abroad, and internationalizing the curriculum. We conclude by emphasizing the need for both scholars and practitioners to engage in multi-voiced, critically-informed analyses, and dissensual conversations about complex ethical dilemmas related to internationalization.
After the Second World War, Canadian parliamentarians showed growing interest in international students coming to Canada. The students became the subject of policy talk, which was shaped by powerful discourses emerging from the larger historical context. From 1945 to 1969, international students were seen as worthy recipients of Canadian aid, an idea that was premised on the belief that they were temporary visitors to Canada who would return to their home countries with both the skills they learned in Canadian schools and with an overall good- will towards Canada, a valuable commodity in the Cold War context. But after the Sir George Williams University affair of 1969, parliamentarians’ tone changed, and international student policy talk became suffused with discourses of fear and danger. In the years after 1969, international students were imagined as both politically and economically dangerous, an attitude that emerged as a reaction to student protest, but also re ected worries among some policymakers that Canada’s changing immigration system, and its move away from primarily Europeans sources for immigrants, was a threat to the stability of Canadian culture.RésuméAprès la Seconde Guerre mondiale, les parlementaires canadiens ont montré un intérêt crois- sant pour la venue au pays d’étudiants internationaux. Ces derniers devinrent un sujet de discussions politiques qui donna lieu à des discours émouvants alimentés par un vaste contexte historique. De 1945 à 1969, les étudiants internationaux étaient vus comme des récipiendaires dignes de l’aide canadienne. Cette idée s’appuyait sur l’impression qu’ils étaient des résidents temporaires au Canada et qu’ils retourneraient dans leur pays non seulement avec les com- pétences acquises dans les établissements d’enseignement, mais qu’ils af cheraient aussi leur bienveillance envers le Canada, une valeur inestimable dans un contexte de Guerre froide. Cependant, après l’affaire de l’Université Sir George Williams, en 1969, le ton des parlemen- taires canadiens a changé. Les discussions politiques sur les étudiants internationaux furent teintées par des idées de peur et d’appréhension. Après 1969, on imagina les étudiants inter- nationaux comme dangereux sur les plans politique et économique. Cette attitude fut une réaction aux protestations étudiantes, mais re était également les préoccupations de certains politiciens face aux changements du système d’immigration qui ne privilégiait plus les étu- diants venus d’Europe, ce qui présentait une menace à la culture canadienne.
This article studies issues of coloniality in so-called capacity-building projects between universities in Africa and Scandinavia. Even fifty years after independence, the African higher education landscape is a product of the colonial powers and subsequent uneven power relations, as argued by a number of researchers. The uneven geography and power of knowledge exist also between countries that were not in a direct colonial relationship, which the word coloniality implies. Based on interviews with stakeholders and on our own experiences of capacity-building projects, this article examines how such projects affect teaching, learning, curriculum, research methodology and issues of quality enhancement. We analyse the dilemmas and paradoxes involved in this type of international collaboration and conclude by offering ways to decolonise capacity-building projects.
The past decade has witnessed the rise of ethno-nationalist sentiments around the world, around the claims that globalization is an ideology that has undermined the sovereignty of nation-states and created conditions that have produced wide-ranging social inequalities. And yet there seems little prospect of turning back from the facts of global interconnectivity. In this paper, I suggest that it is in this contradictory space that the work of educators is now located. Such a space has given rise to a range of perplexing ethical challenges that are not only political but also pedagogic. Politically, these challenges relate to the need to forge ethical communities that can generate collective action in the face of growing levels of global interconnectivity, on the one hand, and the popular appeal of nationalism, on the other. Pedagogically, these challenges demand approaches that assist students to make a better sense of the contradictory world in which they now live and learn, and develop a practice of ethics that foregrounds difference, complexity, contingency and uncertainty.
In response to the article by Horner and Hulme which opens this Debate section, this contribution argues that while the call for a shift from international to global development by Horner and Hulme is justified, their approach is confined to what has been called traditional or problem‐solving theory. On the levels of concepts, theory and metatheory, it fails to transcend orthodox approaches in development theory. Concerning concepts, it employs the traditional concept of ‘development’ without recognizing its ambiguity, referring at different times to social change, positive social change or social change according to the European model. Concerning theory, it is based on the nation state as a unit of analysis, not differentiating between different socio‐economic groups or classes, and neglects questions of power. Concerning metatheory, its knowledge interest, epistemology and methodology also remain within orthodox boundaries, for example reproducing the measurement of aggregate per capita income and its evaluation as progress. In the last section of this article, the author presents an outline sketch for a more critical theory of ‘development’.