Internationalizing Higher Education: Critical Collaborations across the Curriculum
Rhiannon D. Williams and Amy Lee, editors
Boston, MA: Sense Publishers, 2015 (xv + 260 pages, ISBN 978-94-6209-978-4, $43.00)
This collection showcases a wide range of approaches to the problems and promises of internationalizing higher education in meaningful and sustainable ways. The essays recognize that these efforts take place in a rapidly changing world, with new technologies and changes in funding and student enrollment patterns affecting efforts to internationalize curricula and campuses. In recognizing these systemic issues, the editors and authors note that many internationalization efforts are undertaken on an ad hoc or case-by-case basis with little effort to systematize and broaden support for internationalization initiatives. These essays together aim to “investigate, to better understand, and to inform intercultural pedagogy that supports the development of mindful global citizenship” (xii). One of the salient findings of the collection is that successful efforts tend to embrace uncertainty rather than tight strictures and rules. Another is that institutional support is necessary for any internationalization efforts to permeate campuses and become integral parts of undergraduate experience.
Authors from across the globe and from very different institutional contexts contributed to this volume, with the University of Minnesota very well represented. The book is helpfully divided into three sections. The first, “Mindful Global Citizenship: Critical Concepts and Current Contexts” takes a bird’s-eye view of undergraduate education through the lens of internationalization. The second section, “Developing Intercultural Programs and Practitioners,” focuses more on faculty development and institutional infrastructure that can support internationalization. The third section, “Critical Reflections from Across the Curriculum,” focuses more narrowly on particular disciplines or courses with faculty development and graduate education in the mix. This section provides insight into the ways courses and curricula integrate internationalization in varying ways, and these essays provide the most detail about course and classroom experience.
The most relevant essays for readers of this journal are in this third section. These include Solheim et al.’s “Illuminating a Course Transformation Journey”; Gibson et al.’s “Social Media and Intercultural Competence: Using Each to Explore the Other”; Hammell et al.’s “On Becoming a Global Citizen: Critical Pedagogy and Crossing Borders in and out of the University Classroom”; and Jackson’s “ ‘Unpacking’ International Experience through Blended Intercultural Praxis.” Each of these essays relies on meaningful data (mostly qualitative) and contains sufficient detail about process and product to make some of their work replicable. Each also embraces a call to reflection, which helps each essay feel more complete. Perhaps most valuable here is the recognition that internationalization does not just mean study abroad or international student exchange. Rather, internationalization can happen through, for instance, social media, films, and learning communities on campus. In short, internationalization can be anywhere and everywhere.
Overall, the essays in this collection are of varying quality, and several contain grammatical or typographical errors. That aside, the subject matter is likely appealing to many who teach religious studies or theology in higher education, as international perspectives are often the bread and butter of classroom experience. This book will appeal most particularly to those who are interested in building programs or courses that intersect with institutional internationalization efforts.
Joanne Maguire Robinson