IIE Network - Spring 2012 - (Page 48)

INSTITUTIONAL AND GOVERNMENTAL STRATEGIES Overcoming the “American Bubble”: The Norwegian Partnership Programme (PPNA) for Collaboration in Higher Education with North America By Agnete Vabø and Rachel Sweetman1 THE SUCCESSFUL DEVELOPMENT of international networks and collaboration for research and education rests on the enthusiasm and engagement of academics and researchers. Funded by the Norwegian government as part of its North American Strategy for Higher Education Cooperation 2008/11, the Norwegian Partnership Programme (PPNA) for Collaboration in Higher Education with North America seeks to build such enthusiasm and engagement by supporting joint research and teaching projects between faculty and students in Norwegian and North American institutions. By taking a researcher-led approach, the PPNA model provides a welcome contrast to internationalization efforts that emphasize institutional linkages and formal agreements, or student exchanges. A primary goal of the PPNA program is to build collaborations that are committed and durable, and that develop into a sustainable bilateral or multilateral pattern of collaboration. Projects for the PPNA were chosen based on criteria such as applicants’ competence and their ability to renew and strengthen existing contacts, overall research quality, potential to create sustainable academic relationships, the North American partner’s commitment and contribution to the project, potential synergies between research and education, and potential for innovation. Though the application process was open to all fields, projects concerning climate change, new forms of energy, and multicultural societies were especially encouraged. As intended, the proposed collaborations showed a concentration on earth sciences and energy, but also covered a wide range of other subject areas, including public administration, informatics, and indigenous studies. Of the 44 of proposals received, 12 were selected for participation in the program, each of which was awarded 250,000NOK in 48 its first year and 500,000NOK for each of the following three years (roughly $42,000 and $84,000, respectively). Program activities focus on international mobility but vary by project; examples include student and staff exchange, summer schools, conferences, graduate courses, workshops and meetings, fieldwork and data gathering, curriculum development, guest lectures, supervision of student theses, online teaching, internships, scientific publications, and project websites. Overcoming the “American Bubble” One of the main barriers to international mobility identified in the evaluation of the program was a widespread sense in North America that leaving one’s national higher education system is a risky move—a perception referred to as the “American Bubble.” For many North American students, their choice of college has been carefully planned and requires substantial investment over many years by themselves and their families. For faculty on the tenure track, the need to build a solid reputation, have students support their work, and produce high-quality work and publications is felt strongly. These situations can lead to reluctance among students and supervisors to take up opportunities to spend time abroad, if they are unsure about the logistics or outcomes, particularly during master’s or Ph.D.-level study (for students) or pre-award of tenure (for faculty). Having secured a position to study or work in a prestigious North American institution, many are hesitant to take up opportunities for international mobility, even when they involve generous funding for expenses and travel. More broadly, given the range and number of prestigious institutions in North America, it is perhaps understandable that wider international activities are not considered as critical as they often are in European countries, particularly in smaller countries like Norway. Mobility among North American institutions is not uncommon among U.S. students, and is considered part of the traditional career dynamic for U.S. faculty. If a student or professor is seeking new opportunities at a different institution, it usually is unnecessary to look beyond the U.S. Initial evaluation data indicate that despite these contextual challenges, the PPNA has succeeded in forging some enthusiastic and productive partnerships. The data suggest a number of key factors and program characteristics that have contributed to this success. The Flexibility of the PPNA Model The flexibility and relative openness of the PPNA approach has underpinned success in many cases. Flexibility in budgeting and the specific approaches developed over the duration of each partnership were mentioned as important success factors. For example, in projects where student demand was limited in the first year, organizers were able to “roll over” some of their budget to later years when exchange possibilities had been more widely promoted, and students were more familiar with the program and ready to participate. Short-Term Exchanges for Fieldwork and Workshops Several examples emerged of successful activities involving short-term exchange or international meetings, which brought together students and academics for intensive periods. These avoided the perceived “risk” of longer-term exchanges, but still provided rich networking opportunities. Examples included workshops, summer schools, and field visits. While the locations and approaches varied, these activities shared a number of qualities that were positively received http://www.naylornetwork.com/iie-nxt/

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Network - Spring 2012

A Message from Allan E. Goodman
2012 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education
IIENetworker University Presidents Interview Series: Renu Khator, University of Houston
Overcoming “Publish or Perish”: Fostering Faculty Engagement in Internationalization through Tenure Codes and Other Employment Policies
Engaging Science Faculty in Internationalization: Teaching Innovations at UW-Madison
Early-College Study Abroad: A Gateway for Faculty Engagement in Internationalization
Promoting Engagement in Curriculum Internationalization
The International Network of Universities (INU): The Consortium for Global Citizenship
Ten Elements of Faculty Involvement in Global Engagement
Building an Interculturally Competent Faculty
A Shrinking World with Expanding Visions: Faculty as Key Players in Internationalization
China’s Policies on Overseas Faculty Recruitment
Overcoming the “American Bubble”: The Norwegian Partnership Programme (PPNA) for Collaboration in Higher Education with North America
Advertisers Index
IIE Program Profi le: Fulbright Visiting Scholar Occasional Lecturer Fund

IIE Network - Spring 2012