Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Karl W. Deutsch on Nationalistic Responses to Study Abroad

I'm currently reading:  "From the NAFSA Archives, Nationalistic Responses to Study Abroad" by Karl W. Deutsch (from the Spring 1997 International Educator).  This was the address that Deutsch gave at NAFSA's fifth annual conference in 1952.  It is a great article on many levels and it is as relevant today as it was in 1952.

Deutsch begins his address with the following question "Does Foreign Travel-Does Foreign Culture Contact-unite people?  Towards the end of his address Deutsch talks about the "actual results" of the encounters between foreign students and the civilization of the United States and indicates that they have been better than expected."  Deutsch describes four types of individuals who come to the United States to study:

1.  The Future Americans, those students who stay and become Americans
2.  The Deracin√©s, those students who go back to their own countries, but [who] have lost their roots at home and are now at home in no country
3.  The Rebels, those students who go back to their own countries and remain critical or hostile to the United States
4.  The Bridge Builders, those students who go back to their own countries and stick to their own people and to help to link them to the Western world and the United States [perhaps the most valuable group]

In reference to the Bridge Builders, Deutsch asks "how can we help these men [and women...]?  His response is of much interest to me as this is a question I wonder about often [and was going to focus my dissertation on until I realized that finding the answer will take more than a dissertation]. Deutsch argues that our task is "to encourage the identification with us, without destroying their identification with their own personalities and memories and with their own people at home."  He further asks "what can we do to help?" and then answers that "the first think we can do for them is to organize research; to follow up the experience of returned students and to see what positions they find at home. What are their attitudes, their influences, and what is the sociological depth of their contacts at home?  The second thing we can do is to stress the positive and cooperative aspects of the world in general, and the creative and cooperative aspects of American culture in particular.  We can show them what the United States has learned from the other peoples of the world.  We can emphasize the creative contributions they and people like them might make in the future.  We can treat them as resources and friends.  We can get them together on or campuses, not only with the technical and instrumental parts of the curriculum that are offered, but also with our most creative and imaginative courses, teachers, and students."  What do you think about Deutsch's comments?

Karl Deutsch was one of the most well know political scientists/international relations theorists of the 20th Century.

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