How does internationalization manifest itself around the globe? Does internationalization always serve the needs of the local community? Is the purpose of internationalization the same in every country? Gifty Oforiwaa Gyamera considers these questions in her study of internationalization efforts at three public universities in Ghana. In “The Internationalisation Agenda: A Critical Examination of Internationalisation Strategies in Public Universities in Ghana” published in International Studies in Sociology of Education, Gyamera considers the important, often unaddressed question: can internationalization undermine, rather than support, local higher education?

Gyamera depicts the internationalization efforts at these three universities through the words of the institutions themselves and those who work or study there. She examines the schools’ mission statements and goes further in-depth with interviews from the faculty, staff, and students. Among the 57 individuals she interviewed, she finds criticism for internationalization efforts from a variety of perspectives. Some argue that internationalization encourages institutions to sell themselves by using language such as “world class,” or stresses a focus on the profit-generating potential of higher education. While others question the use of “experts” to help them with their internationalization efforts, as these experts often come from outside of the community. Still, others express concern that internationalization is a modern form of colonialism. As one professor at the University of Ojo tells Gyamera, “‘I don’t necessarily disagree with internationalisation, I disagree with the way internationalisation has meant that we westernize our system’” (Gyamera 2015, 120). While Gyamera offers a diverse landscape of viewpoints on internationalization, the common themes that surface reveal doubts concerning the implementation of internationalization.

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How do micro-level forces, such as funding, staffing, and personal relationships, affect not only the success, but the manifestation, of internationalization? How do micro and macro factors influence what is meant by “international knowledge?”

Jonathan Z. Friedman and Cynthia Miller-Idriss explore these questions in their article, “The International Infrastructure of Area Studies Centers: Lessons for Current Practice from a Prior Wave of Internationalization.” Friedman and Miller-Idriss extrapolate from what they learned through interviews with personnel about the internationalization efforts of area studies programs, to offer a way of understanding internationalization at institutions in general.

While internationalization is often framed in global terms, Friedman and Miller-Idriss instead discover it is the local factors—such as organization resources (including the funding of the center), individual personalities (including the influence of the center director’s background and inclinations), administrative personnel (including having someone to process the paperwork required after SEVIS), and interpersonal relationships (including the need to bring faculty from professional schools into the area studies programs)—that shape the model of internationalization for these area studies centers, and consequently, the institutions at large.

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University leaders often proclaim that one of their strategic goals is to graduate “global citizens.” Implicit in this goal is the belief that students, upon graduation, will feel more deeply connected with their world. This assumption is challenged when the second-class status of native-born, noncitizen students is reinforced, rather than mitigated, at an American branch campus. What is gained when local interpretations of the presence of an American branch campus and an “American” curriculum are explored rather than assumed?

Based on her ethnographic work in Dubai and Doha, Neha Vora, in the article “Is the University Universal? Mobile (Re)Constitutions of American Academia in the Gulf States,” exposes a surprising paradox. On the one hand, American universities assign specific missions, values, and curricula to their international branch campuses. On the other hand, students often interpret and respond to these missions, values, and curricula in unanticipated ways.

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Why do international students study abroad? What qualities and attributes do international students think that American universities value?

Many scholars devote their research toward exploring the reasons why international students choose to go to school abroad. Discussions of push-pull factors, human capital theory, branding, and family influence have all framed the conversations surrounding the motivations and hindrances to mobility. However, Mindie Lazarus-Black and Julie Globokar suggest using a different source to understand international student mobility, namely, the personal essays students submit to admissions officers. Lazarus-Black and Globokar demonstrate that these essays reveal not only what motivates students to go abroad, but also what these students perceive that admissions officers want to know about them.

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Does the way we think about how change occurs affect the way we think change could occur? Can we become more conscious of the assumptions that frame our vision of change? If we are more conscious of these assumptions, do we approach change differently?

Adrianna Kezar, Sean Gehrke, and Susan Elrod, in their article “Implicit Theories of Change as a Barrier to Change on College Campuses: An Examination of STEM Reform” published in The Review of Higher Education, explore these questions in their research on the changes to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at 11 different college campuses in California. Through observations, interviews, training exercises, and annual meetings of 55 faculty and 22 administrators over the course of three years, the researchers both assess and seek to influence the way in which participants view change on their campus. Kezar et al. made their subjects aware of the assumptions they were holding and then examined how this awareness affected future conversations. The most prevalent implicit theories of change are that change is top-down or bottom-up, thereby ignoring the model of distributed leadership. Among the STEM participants, some believe that change requires funding (because in their fields, they associate “research” with first getting funding for projects), while some believe that data itself can convince others to enact change, and others believe that change has to occur at the departmental level. While the authors acknowledge that some of these implicit theories are based on evidence, they demonstrate that making implicit theories explicit can help push participants to think differently about solutions.

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Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization that produces Sesame Street, proudly proclaims a mission to “help kids grow smarter, stronger, and kinder” through programs that reach across more than 150 countries. This mission, of course, is far from simple. In fact, through the work of Naomi Moland’s recent research on the Nigerian version of Sesame Street, it becomes clear that in the process of helping kids grow “smarter, stronger, and kinder,” the complexities of the world surface in both concrete and profound ways.

Naomi Moland’s article “Can Multiculturalism be Exported? Dilemmas of Diversity on Nigeria’s Sesame Square,” published in Comparative Education Review, discusses the production of a Nigerian version of Sesame Street called Sesame Square. Moland depicts how the producers, writers, and developers strive to create a balanced, educational program in the face of competing ethnic, religious, and cultural divisions within the country, and the varying ways they feel that divisions should be approached. Moland interviews Nigerian and American staff members of Sesame Square, and studies the transcripts of 78 episodes to examine the challenges of creating a program both relevant to, and respectful of, the tapestry of peoples in Nigeria. Along the way, she shows how elements of daily life become fraught with symbolism when these elements appear on television. For example, she shares the following vignette: “One Christian Nigerian creator described a film shoot wherein an Igbo girl in a tank top with thin straps was told to wear a jacket, because the clothing may be offensive to Muslims. This creator asked, ‘If it’s okay for another child to wear a hijab, then why can’t she wear [a tank top]?’ (Nigerian creator, October 28, 2011). Even though a hijab is a religious (and ethnic) symbol and a tank top is not, the tank top came to symbolize non-Muslims” (Moland 2015, 11). Every character’s dress, every reference to daily life, and every story line can present a challenge that can stall or prevent the release of an episode.

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We are gripped by the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Europe as a seemingly unending number of people seek refuge away from countries wracked with war and terrorism.

It can be easy for Americans to look across the ocean and call for swift action to address the suffering of those seeking safety and a better future for themselves and their children. It is harder for us to deal with the similar tragedies in our own backyard. The number of refugees at the U.S. southern border fleeing from violence and narco-terrorism in Central America has declined dramatically from last year. But it isn’t because those countries have gotten safer, it is because the United State has worked closely with Mexico and other nations to turn people away before they get to the U.S. border.

Those who sought protection in the United States were sent in large numbers to detention centers – jails – to be held for months at a time. Mothers and children—babies—were held in jails for months without knowing what would happen to them. The stated goal of the Administration putting them in jail was to deter others from seeking protection in the United States. Only recently did a court order the swift release of families from detention while they await decisions on their requests to remain in the United States.

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Amanda KelsoBy Amanda Kelso

This past July I had the opportunity to attend NAFSA’s Strategic Retreat for Education Abroad Leaders in Washington, D.C. Like most full-time administrators, my days are filled with a steady stream of e-mails, meetings, and crises (both big and small), making it a struggle to reflect on and discuss big-picture ideas. The prospect of a two-day retreat with colleagues to focus on and discuss strategy was appealing.

In preparation for the retreat, we were assigned to read four articles in which the authors challenged us to rethink the definitions of “global learners” and “global learning,” a challenge echoed by Neriko Musha Doerr in the retreat’s keynote address. What followed was innovative and inspiring, and completely different from the typical education abroad workshop.

Each participant came to the retreat looking for something different, and as the retreat drew to a close, it was evident that each would leave with equally diverse outcomes. I came away from the retreat with a richer vision of how education abroad fits into the shifting landscape of global higher education, as well as new ideas and pathways to explore to ensure that the global programming in my care meets the needs of 21st century learners. These insights will certainly inform my work at Duke and as a leader in NAFSA’s Education Abroad Knowledge Community.

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Voter Protection

Photo by David Sachs, SEIU, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act tomorrow, it would be natural to assume that securing the right to vote for people of color could be crossed off America’s to-do list. Instead, it has become clear that the law’s roots are beginning to wither, threatening the integrity of the principles on which our democracy was founded.

A Problem in Need of a Solution
In 1870, the 15th amendment to the United States Constitution ensured (male) citizens of their right to vote regardless of their “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” It gave Congress the power to enforce the right. Nevertheless, for the next 95 years, some states imposed hurdles such as literacy tests and poll taxes to prevent African-Americans, not to mention Latinos, Native Americans and other people of color, from exercising their right to vote. When those tactics failed, law enforcement looked away—or tacitly sanctioned—threats, intimidation and actual violence against non-whites trying to vote.

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