Interrogating Internationalization of Education

A major research project currently underway is investigating the everyday experiences of internationalization at the university. Internationalization of higher education is being adopted increasingly by universities and colleges across Canada, purportedly as a strategy to develop intercultural and international competencies among their graduates. This strategy is identified as the academic rationale driving internationalization, defined as “the process of integrating an international, intercultural or global dimension into the purpose, functions or delivery of post-secondary education” (Knight, 2004, p. 11). There is no consensus, however, on what these terms and definitions mean (Knight, 2000, 2008), and how the participants in the internationalization process understand them. 

This SSHRC-funded, campus-wide project, Interrogating internationalization: A multi-dimensional case study, investigates the practices and perceptions of internationalization from the point of view of participants (students, faculty, staff and administrators) to develop an in-depth understanding that can be used to inform teaching and learning, curriculum and pedagogy, and contribute to a more robust conceptualization of internationalization in higher education in Canada. These insights, we argue, will illuminate internationalization at the level of everyday enactment. 

We are seeking to move beyond definitions, models and institutional structural analyses of internationalization towards understanding the complex, multi-layered experiences of those engaged in the process. A comprehensive data set such as ours, reflecting multiple dimensions of internationalization in one university, is rare, may be unique in the Canadian research. The institutional ethnography, “becomes a means for expanding people’s own knowledge” (Smith, 1995, p.1) of this process and our analyses, emerging from the everyday details of internationalization in this one institution, will provide insights into how the ‘international’, intercultural’ and ‘global’ dimensions of internationalization become instantiated. 

This research is being conducted with SFU Ethics Approval and is funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Standard Research Grant (2011 – 2014).

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kumari Beck 778 782 8599

Co-investigator: Dr. Roumi Ilieva 778 782 4570