While campuses were celebrating the best of what international education has to offer during International Education Week, troubling events (and many troubling responses to those events) were dominating the media. Just over a week ago, we witnessed horrific attacks in Paris and Beirut, and last Friday, more tragic deadly attacks took place at a hotel in Mali. Every day, there seems to be breaking news of violence somewhere. As the co-chairs of the 9/11 commission, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean, wrote in a joint op-ed last week: “Absolute condemnation is the only possible reaction to these abominable attacks by those who embrace the universal values of life and liberty. But faced once again with innocent lives taken by a murderous, radical foe, we must re-examine and re-energize our response.”
#GivingTuesday is a day to celebrate generosity and to give back. Founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, it has grown into a global movement engaging 30,000 organizations worldwide every year. NAFSA participated in the #GivingTuesday movement for the first time in 2014. Our efforts helped contribute to the more than $45 million in donations contributed in a single day last year.
NAFSA is once again asking everyone to join in #GivingTuesday by contributing in support of the NAFSA Diversity Impact Program.
The goal of the Diversity Impact Program is to help foster diversity, both professionally and institutionally, within the field of international education.
This year’s International Education Week, November 16-20, was an extraordinary way to focus on the range of efforts and programs that allow students to have more integrated and experiential international education through creative curricular design, expansion of language learning, and increased opportunities for study abroad.
On Thursday evening, I was thrilled to join the Fund for Education Abroad to celebrate their 5th anniversary and to accept the inaugural Fritz Kaufmann Champion Award. That incredible honor provided me an opportunity to note the progress we have made and to reflect on how much there remains to do.
Fritz Kaufmann, founder of Academic Travel Abroad, acted upon his personal experiences and had a vision for the role that international education could play to help rebuild a war-devastated Europe. His lifelong devotion to advancing cross-cultural understanding through international educational travel, multicultural awareness, and language training, continues to inspire us today.
If you have not yet had the chance to hear Bryan Stevenson, founder and CEO of the Equal Justice Initiative, and author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, prepare to be utterly inspired when he speaks at NAFSA’s 2016 Annual Conference & Expo in Denver. And, if you have had the chance to hear him speak before, then you will likely be one of the first to grab a seat near the front of the auditorium.
Bryan is passionate on speaking out about our failed criminal justice system. He is outspoken about this country’s tolerance for deliberate and demonstrated injustice against the poor. He is also articulate, honest, provocative, and charming. This combination of characteristics allows him to get under your skin while he holds up a mirror to our society. If you’re like me, you will remember things he says about us and our country for days, even weeks afterward. But of course, remembering what he says and acting upon it are two different things, and I am reminded, in writing this, that there are things I can and must do to be part of the solution.
The recent announcement of David Brooks as the opening plenary speaker at the NAFSA 2016 Annual Conference & Expo is great news for all NAFSAns. As a member of the NAFSA board attending recent NAFSA annual conferences, I’ve been struck by the extraordinary caliber of NAFSA’s plenary speakers. From my 14 years experience as president of a partner organization, the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), I know that successful conferences depend critically on compelling plenary speakers. At CGS, we were honored to have David Brooks as a plenary speaker more than once at our annual meetings and each time Mr. Brooks earned rave reviews from attendees.
David Brooks as a speaker will appeal to NAFSA members for exactly the same reasons he appealed so strongly to graduate deans. He is a thoughtful commentator on the contemporary political scene who brings considered conservative balance to a community discourse where liberal voices dominate. And, in providing that balance, he signifies a kind of civility and respect for others that is absolutely essential to moving forward effective and meaningful dialogue on critical policy issues.
Most administrators, faculty, and staff at universities in the United States can share stories about their accreditation process. In fact, the process of accreditation often leads institutions to develop narratives that establish who they are, what they do, and what they intend to become. The framework of an accreditation review can help institutions reaffirm, or shift, how they view themselves and how they want others to perceive them.
Yet, what does accreditation mean? Does accreditation represent quality? Does accreditation symbolize power? Does accreditation signify compliance? Why would institutions outside of the geographical area serviced by an accrediting agency voluntarily choose that agency? For those who make that choice, what do they hope to gain?
What do the NAFSA International Education Professional Competencies™ and kickball have in common? Well, nothing, except for the fact that we had both at the University of Missouri International Center staff retreat this summer.
NAFSA unveiled its competency model at the 2015 Annual Conference & Expo in Boston this year, and our director of international student and scholar services, David Currey, wanted to review the model as a team and discuss how we could utilize the information in our office. Our annual staff retreat seemed like the perfect place for this to happen.
With the time we had for this portion of the retreat, I chose to focus on the competencies specific to the field of international student and scholar services:
- Contributing to comprehensive internationalization
- Crisis management
- Office administration
- Orientation, retention, and student services programming
- Student and scholar advising
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.
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.
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.