Who Do We Want to Be as a Global Knowledge Community?
Recently, while reflecting on the current status of international higher education, I have found myself grappling with how voices are often missing, unheard, or unacknowledged in the field. These reflections were especially poignant over the past year, as we navigated a health pandemic in the midst of global conflicts that highlighted both historical and contemporary issues related to race, religion, and nativism.
International education within the context of higher education is often lauded as a way to foster peace, engage individuals and communities in cultural understanding, and promote knowledge, often through the process of internationalization. Internationalization efforts may lead to increased student diversity on campuses, collaborative knowledge production, higher rankings and prestige, and global competencies and citizenship, all of which are valued by higher education institutions and associations.
Although internationalization may appear to benefit all involved, the efforts, rationales, and outcomes are all situated within layers of power and perceived legitimacy. As a result, internationalization at higher education institutions, especially those located in what is considered the Global North, may contribute to the establishment and continuation of inequality rooted in Western imperialism and academic colonization. Higher education practices are never neutral, especially when considering global and international perspectives.
Higher education practices are never neutral, especially when considering global and international perspectives.
Yet rarely are the questions “Internationalization for whom?” and “Internationalization by whom?” discussed and problematized in international education. We know that “mainstream approaches to internationalization not only reflect but also potentially naturalize and reproduce already uneven geo-political, economic, and