This most recent issue of NAFSA’s Global Studies Literature Review (GSLR) recognizes that the challenges of diversity and inclusion extend well beyond our field of international education. The field as a whole is grappling with problems of supporting students from underrepresented backgrounds, promoting a culture of inclusion, and breaking down long-standing barriers of access. Yet, the challenges of diversity and inclusion are also deeply embedded in U.S. history; indeed, they are part and parcel of world history. Legacies of slavery, oppression, and scientific racism reverberate into the twenty-first century and signs of a disturbing return to tribalism and nationalism abound. Science itself is under the microscope; anthropologist Jonathan Marks recently asked the question: “Is Science Racist?”
To address these challenges, we asked contributors to consider “diversity and inclusion” broadly—to address not just racial barriers but the construction of racial identities, not just diversity on campuses but “diversity” as a construct, not just free speech but the very idea of free speech, not just science but philosophy. Our hope is that the field continues to strive toward interpretive approaches.
Jonathan Larson leads off this issue with a provocative review essay on the tangled meanings of diversity and free speech. Larson asks whether the current challenges can be solved by a return to classical justice models or whether a new kind of revolutionary poetics (such as in Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me) is needed. Picking up on Coates’s work and connecting it to international education, Ariel Bloomer considers what Coates’s larger message means for the field. Similarly, Samantha Antoine’s review of Jesmyn Ward’s The Fire This Time and Kristin Evans’s review of Roberto G. Gonzales’s prize-winning Lives in Limbo link national and global conversations to the daily work of international educators.
Issues of “cultural competence,” and even higher education itself, are being remodeled and rethought. Rosalind Latiner Raby reviews a compilation of the work of Philip G. Altbach, whose research has long defined the parameters of international and comparative higher education. Marc Thomas examines a new book on remodeling cultural competence and a book on re-envisioning the work of the faculty.
One of the highlights of this issue is a focus on community colleges. As demonstrated in Robert Frost’s review of International Education at Community Colleges and Raby’s review of Altbach’s book, the idea of community colleges was originally crafted and shaped by more prestigious institutions. Yet, Frost and Raby argue that community colleges educate more students and hold more promise to address the deeply embedded challenges of diversity and inclusion.
We hope these contributions inspire conversation and action in the field.
From the GSLR Editors,
Emily Gorlewski, Rebecca Hovey, and Bryan McAllister-Grande