IIE Networker - Spring 2013 - (Page 49)

IIE PERSPECTIVES FROM THE IIE BLOG Re-envisioning Internationalization: International Education for What? By Rajika Bhandari AN ESTIMATED 1.7 billion people in the world live in absolute poverty. Close to 40 percent of the world’s population lives without access to improved sanitation, with the vast majority in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. And when it comes to education, only 10 percent of the world has access to a secondary education, and this proportion plummets to one percent for a higher education. But, these problems exist in the developed world, too: about 33 percent of U.S. students enrolled in college never complete their degrees, and a third of all incoming freshmen have taken at least one remedial course in reading and/or mathematics. Clearly, we are living in times that are fraught with multiple problems that range from those affecting the individual alone, to those affecting entire communities and societies. Against this backdrop, as more than 3.7 million young students move beyond their countries’ borders to obtain an international education— and with so many countries and organizations investing vast amounts of human and financial resources in promoting a global education— the question must be asked: an international education for what and for whose benefit? Beyond the obvious individual and cultural benefits, what is to be gained from the mobility of students, and what local or global problems is an international education helping solve? The genesis of this question goes deeper and can be traced to the vast divide between two seemingly overlapping yet disparate fields: international education as those of us in the “exchange” or internationalization field know it, and international education as defined within the field of international development. Experts and practitioners in one field simply do not speak to those in the other. Those of us in the field of international higher education rarely pose critical questions about the broader implications and relevance of internationalization in providing solutions for global, national or community-level problems. For example, to what extent are we guiding our future internationally mobile students to think about the Millennium Development Goals, or the Education for All Initiative, or the Dakar Framework for Action as a frame of reference for selecting their future course of study and professional career? Although international service learning has always been a time-honored tradition in Western countries, it exists for the most part on the fringes of formal higher education and training. But there are some exemplary programs that have attempted to bridge this divide and where an international experience is seen as a critical pathway to addressing development issues. One such program is the Ford Foundation’s International Fellowship Program (see article on p. 37 of this issue) that draws upon talented individuals from marginalized groups from around the world to use their educational experience to address key social issues. Another example of an initiative that encourages the application of international learning to everyday problems is Engineers without Borders, which provides U.S. engineering undergraduates with community development opportunities abroad. As one step towards documenting these types of activities, the Institute of International Education has recently expanded its Open Doors Study Abroad Survey to collect data on internships abroad (and other types of applied learning experiences) both for credit and noncredit, in the private and public sectors. Scaling up and replicating these types of initiatives is not an easy endeavor. From a research perspective, the major challenge, of course, is assessing the ultimate impact of higher education mobility or educational exchanges. How can we measure the contributions of international education to solving global problems? In addition to reporting on international students’ fields of study, should we also attempt to synthesize mobility data by areas of potential impact such as public health, education and the environment? These are just some of the many questions that need to be addressed. The selection of a study destination and field of study will ultimately be an individual one, driven by personal and professional aspirations, but we all can play a role in shaping the next generation’s thinking about how their learning can help solve some of the world’s most endemic problems. But for that to happen our field first needs to rethink and redefine our current understanding of internationalization. ■ Rajika Bhandari is deputy vice president for research and evaluation at the Institute of International Education. A version of this article first appeared in IAU Horizons, the magazine of the International Association of Universities. The article also appeared on IIE’s blog, Opening Minds. To read more blog posts, visit www.iie.org/blog. Learn More About IIE’s Work in International Development. IIE promotes international development through many training, capacity building, and leadership programs. Highlights include: • The USAID Timor Leste Development Scholarships and Higher Education Program supports the country’s economic and social development by providing academic and professional training. IIE uses its scholarship management expertise and experience working in Timor-Leste to develop the human, technical and leadership capacity of project participants, partners and staff. • The U.S. Department of State International Visitor Program (IVLP) brings emerging leaders from around the world to the United States to meet with their professional counterparts and build mutual understanding. Since 1972, IIE in Washington has been one of seven private, DC-based nonprofit organizations that design and implement the IVLP, coordinating projects for over 18,000 International Visitors. • The GE Foundation Scholar Leaders Program supports outstanding students in higher education in 14 countries around the world. The program initially provided traditional financial support for university education, but has developed into a leadership development program to complement students’ academic curriculum. For more information on IIE’s International Development work, visit http://www.iie.org/What-We-Do/International-Development 49 http://www.iie.org/blog http://www.iie.org/What-We-Do/International-Development http://www.iie.org/iienetworker

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2013

A Message from Allan E. Goodman
2013 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education
IIENetworker Minister of Education Interview Series
Higher Education and Diff erent Notions of Development
Advancing Development Through International Partnerships
Developing a Gender Studies Program in Georgia
Higher Education and Community Development
The University of Cologne’s Capacity-Building Project in Myanmar
Promoting International Development by Collaborating with Industry
International Development and Higher Education
Harnessing the Power of Women with Disabilities
Community College Global Partnerships Bring Local Benefi ts
Building vs. Being
Higher Education and Development through Cultural Relations
The Institute of International Education’s Work in Iraq and Myanmar
Re-Envisioning Internationalization
Advertisers Index

IIE Networker - Spring 2013