Friday, June 3, 2011

The End of Internationalization???? On my way home from Vancouver

"Or are we having an identity crisis? Or are we losing its true north? Are we losing some of the key values about what is behind and supporting and guiding internationalization?” These were the questions behind one of the most stimulating conversations for me at NAFSA this week.

This is the reason why these huge conferences can be so very helpful. One knows that not all of the events are equal. The exhibits are interesting but not earth-shattering. Any vendor can advertise anywhere. Some of the seminars and workshops are less thought-provoking and more commercial advertisements for the many for-profit companies seeking to turn profit from higher education ventures. But this seminar, "The End of Internalization, with three panelists speaking to a filled room, had the audacity to ask the educators and the vendors: What does all of this mean? Why are we so keen to internationalize our campus? I am so glad that someone is asking it!! That question must always be at the center of any program--it just keeps us honest. Kudos to NAFSA who would include such a thought-provoking critique. Otherwise, we are simply educated lemmings. Read the report of this seminar below.

Panelists at the session argued that as internationalization has moved from a fringe to core university activity, it remains imperative for professionals to scrutinize what they’re working toward and why. Every university now says it wants to be “international,” but what does that mean -- as Knight said, “internationalization has become a catch-all phrase for everything” -- and to what end?
“Internationalization is not a goal in itself,” said Uwe Brandenburg, a consultant with the Centre for Higher Education, in Germany. “It’s a means to an end. It’s an instrument to achieve something. It’s not good just because it’s international.” Instead of looking at internationalization as its own end, Brandenburg said, universities should focus on the way it contributes to improving teaching, learning, research, innovation and civic engagement."

THANKS NAFSA. Good meeting.

1 comment:

  1. I'm wondering if this relates?
    An interview with Francis Fukuyama: