Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Climate for Innovation

The following guest post is from my friend and colleague Bryan McAllister-Grande who is currently at Doctoral Candidate at Harvard Graduate School of Education and an Advisor for Global Affairs at Brandeis University.

Two years ago, at NAFSA’s Annual Conference in Kansas City, a group of international educators presented a new award to Josef Mestenhauser, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota. The “Award for Innovative Research and Scholarship in Internationalization” -- now an annual peer-reviewed process -- is meant to honor contributions to a comprehensive, learning-centered approach to internationalization, an approach that Mestenhauser helped pioneer. Professor Mestenhauser has been gracious to serve on the selection committee for this new award, which was recently given to Bruce La Brack of the University of the Pacific.

Last fall, Mestenhauser published his magnum opus, an 160-page monograph based on his lectures at Minnesota. This book covers, roughly, the entirety of his career and thought. It critically examines the whole field, offering new interpretations of “culture,” research, student learning, education abroad, and learning for international students. Yet, it has not received much attention or debate. Part of the reason must be because it is only available on and has not been marketed in the usual circles. In addition, Mestenhauser’s work has always been considered complex, given his highly philosophical style, and many practitioners are not given ample time to read and review new work in the field – especially at the theoretical level.

But these two reasons can’t fully explain the silence on this book. Other scholars who work at the theoretical level have received comparatively much deeper attention. I wonder if there are other reasons, too, that speak to the current climate for innovation in internationalization.

Mestenhauser’s book arrives at a somewhat odd time for international education. On the one hand, the field seems to be expanding at an unbelievable rate, with more and more people claiming stake to the work. On the other, academics are questioning whether internationalization is reaching an “end,” a “mid-life crisis,” or is simply an empty fad. Jane Knight argues that all the attention given to internationalization has led to some “unintended consequences” – competition, elitism, market-driven priorities, and downgraded quality. The International Association of Universities recently released a statement entitled “Rethinking Internationalization”, which asks, “Has internationalization lost sight of its central purposes?” and aims to convene a global working group.

Meanwhile, on campuses, budgets are being cut, resources are being redirected, and some faculty are questioning the attention being given to initiatives deemed ‘outside’ the central campus mission of teaching and research. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison – a noted leader in global education – a faculty group recommended to dissolve a central Division of International Studies favor of a more diffused approach. The faculty did not repudiate internationalization as a goal, but they did question the motives and the process.

International education has no chance of dying out in today’s global world – but have we lost a sense of purpose and common goals?

When a group feels threatened (even somewhat unconsciously), the tendency is to retreat into familiar, stable, and comfortable positions. True innovation is at risk. Even the recent trend in higher education toward online education and open courseware, while seemingly innovative, seems like a retreat to a comfortable and marketable position. Similarly, I wonder how much “space” there is for international educators to innovate in this climate. When divisions of international studies are dissolved and internationalization is questioned, radicals and critics like Mestenhauser are more apt to be ignored, or pushed off to be tackled ‘later,’ in favor of more positive and conformist arguments.

After all, Mestenhauser does not so much criticize faculty and students and universities in general, but rather turns a mirror on the field itself. While acknowledging many improvements in theoretical rigor and practice since the founding of NAFSA, he still finds the field conceptually bereft. (He cites more publications from the 1950s and 60s than he does from the contemporary literature.) The prominence of current research on “global competence,” for instance, comes under attack for being superficial, as do singular studies on education abroad and international students. Most importantly, Mestenhauser deems the field’s understanding of “culture” to be limited and partial, if not itself culture-bound.

Of course, there is another issue: our field is overwhelmingly collegial and friendly, and we are not used to the usual academic peer review, which can be harsh and judgmental. I wonder if Mestenhauser’s particular mode of criticism is, again, out of place with a general tendency toward collaboration and sharing “best practices” versus theoretical debate. But can’t and shouldn’t we have both?

What do others think?  Do you find examples of true innovation in the field, and in what ways?  What qualifies as innovation in our field? What are the barriers to innovation, both apparent and hidden? Does innovation come from the sharing of best practices and collaboration, or also from healthy critique and debate and academic-style peer review?

NAFSA’s Review of Global Studies Literature (an online compilation of book reviews and essays of literature in the field, for which I serve as a co-editor) is also considering a forum on this general topic of ‘critiques of internationalization,’ and we would welcome diverse thoughts on Mestenhauser’s book as well as general ideas for reviewing recent critiques in a variety of topic areas. In addition, the next Call for Nominations is available for the 2013 Award for Innovative Research and Scholarship in Internationalization. Please consider nominating someone (or yourself) who has made a crucial and important contribution to the dialogue on how we approach our work.

Bryan McAllister-Grande
Doctoral Candidate, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Advisor for Global
Affairs, Brandeis University

Sunday, June 24, 2012 – A BC Council for International Education (BCCIE) Initiative for Prospective International Students

Last month the Province of British Columbia, Canada announced their new International Education Strategy and today the BC Council for International Education (BCCIE) officially launches a new website which provides a unique glimpse of what it means to study in British Columbia and gives international students a platform on which to share their experiences.  The site features content from student bloggers, photographers and videographers who will document their study in British Columbia experience and share it with others considering the same path.  The focus of the site is not specific to post-secondary studies and provides a wealth of information on K-12 education in the Province for those who want to study

I was able to look through this past week and found it to be an excellent resource for prospective students.  The website was very user friendly and it provided a wealth of information on studying in BC.  Check it out for yourself!

I have been a huge fan of the international education efforts of British Columbia and BCCIE since I entered the field back in 2000 and only enhances my appreciation of their efforts!

You can also connect StudyinBC on Twitter and Facebook.

[Note: I received no compensation or benefit for posting about or the International Education Strategy of British Columbia]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Declining Presence at International Education Conferences

Over the past few years my attendance at international education conferences has dwindled.  I have missed the past three Forum on Education Abroad conferences (my last one was Portland in 2009) and the past two NAFSA: Association of International Educators conferences (my last one was Kansas City in 2010) and the past four CIEE conferences (my last one was Toronto in 2007).  I did manage to make it to the CIES conference in Chicago in 2010 to present but my time at this conference consisted of arriving 30 minutes before my presentation and leaving 30 minutes after my presentation ended so I really can’t say I attended the conference (my only CIES conference I have seen) as I only presented at the Chicago CIES conference.  This also sums up the amount of time I spent at the 2011 NAFSA Region V conference in Champaign, Illinois (my last NAFSA Region V conference was in 2004 in Ann Arbor, Michigan) as I was also in and out of the conference venue only to present and say hello to a few friends and colleagues.  I did attend the entire 2010 U.S. Summit for Global Citizen Diplomacy in Washington, D.C. and it was a worthwhile event.
There are several reasons for this decline such as dissertation conflicts, lack of funds (almost all of my previous conference participation was self-funded) or lack of support.
I do hope to attend the 2013 Forum on Education Abroad conference as it will be in Chicago and perhaps the NAFSA conference in St. Louis in 2013.  CIEE 2012 in Shanghai is definitely out for me but who knows about 2013 in Minneapolis!?!?!
I will attend the annual conference of the Partnership in International Management (PIM) in Lima, Peru in late October (in many ways PIM has become my new NAFSA) and next week I will attend the Peer Schools International Educators [group of top business schools in the U.S.]  meeting at Stanford Graduate School of Business for a couple of days (in many ways Peer Schools has become my new Forum although on a much, much smaller scale] so I’m not totally out of the conference/meeting circuit…it’s just changing!  Last month I attended my first Chicago NAFSA Roundtable meeting since I worked in the Office of International Affairs at The University of Chicago seven years ago.
Originally posted to my International Higher Education Consulting website on June 11, 2012.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Literature on Education Abroad from the 1800's

Many IHEC Blog readers are aware of my interest in the history of international education in the United States.  My historical interests date back to colonial times but the late 1800's, early 1900's, the inter-war period (1918-1939), post-World War II through the 1960's and then the 1970's-1980's.  While fluid, these are the various time periods I tend to focus my research on.

Some time ago I posted a link to a short piece of literature in Google Books from 1896 that was making an argument for American students to study in France versus Germany (link below) to Twitter and IHEC Blog's Facebook page and several people enjoyed the posts so I am sharing links below to two historical piece of literature focusing on education abroad:

Should American Youth Be Educated Abroad? In “Education Abroad, And Other Papers” by Birdsey Grant Northrop, LL.D., Secretary of Connecticut Board of Education. New York and Chicago: A.S. Barnes & Co. (1873) at [scroll down a little] or

An argument for American students to study in France vs. Germany via the “Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science”, Volume 7 (1896) at

Monday, June 11, 2012

From the Bury Book International Education Library & Archive Collection

Following are some of the unique pieces of literature found in my Bury Book International Education Library & Archive collection:

"What We Don't Know Can Hurt Us: The Shortfall in International Competence" by the Commission on International Education of the American Council on Education (ca. 1983)

"Mutual Advantage: Report of the Committee of Review of Private Overseas Student Policy Summary" (1984, March) by the Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra

Photo Credit:  all photos of publication covers taken via iPhone by 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"The Fulbright Program: A History" (1965) Book Review

From time to time I post about international education related books to IHEC Blog.  My posts are not formal book reviews like one would find in an academic journal but rather a short blurb of information about a new book with some commentary and/or a table of contents.  The purpose is to put information about new and interesting literature on the radar of IHEC Blog readers.  

My post today strays from this format slightly in that I am doing a more formal review (not academic journal worthy, to be sure) of a book from 1965 entitled: The Fulbright Program: A History by Walter Johnson and Francis J. Colligan.
Why am I posting about a book from 1965?  There are several reasons:

1.  I served as the Fulbright Program Adviser at The University of Chicago for twelve years until I left my position to move to Chicago Booth.  I miss it greatly and think it is a program worthy of writing about!
2.  I enjoy and appreciate the history of international educational exchanges and engagement and, for me, a book on the History of the Fulbright Program from 1967 is quite appealing!
3.  I am so crazy busy I can barely keep all the balls I'm juggling up in the air so I thought I would recycle this brief review I wrote for a class several years ago [and probably at the last minute] that I recently came across while researching in my files so I thought I would save myself a little time today (meaning last night when I prepared this post).
4.  Why not....J. William Fulbright is someone IHEC Blog has and will continue to post about from time to time!

This book was first published in 1965 by Walter Johnson and Francis J. Colligan by The University of Chicago Press.  Dr. Walter Johnson was chairman of the Department of History at the University of Chicago and served on the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1947 to 1954 and as chairman of the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1950 to 1953.  Dr. Francis J. Colligan served as the executive secretary of the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1948 to 1957.  Given Johnson and Colligan’s involvement and leadership roles on the Board of Foreign Scholarships during its initial years of existence it is not surprising that J. William Fulbright himself wrote the foreward to this book.  This book provides an in depth historical analysis of the first twenty years of the Fulbright program.  The book is sub-divided into four distinct parts titled “Launching the Program,” “The Program Around the World,” “The American People and the Program,” and “The Significance of the Program.”  In addition, there are four appendices that are worthy of review.  The first two appendices provide the text of The Fulbright Act of 1946 and The Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, respectively.  The third appendix provides fellowship data from the current fellowship cycle of the Fulbright-Hays Program (1963 to 1964) and historical data through 1962.  This appendix on fellowship data is important to include in a book on the history of the Fulbright program but I feel the authors could have presented much more data and in a better format.  The final appendix provides a listing of all the members, executive secretaries and chief of operations staff from of the Board of Foreign Scholarships from 1946 to 1965.

Johnson and Colligan provide the most thorough history of the Fulbright program than any of the other publications read for this analysis.  Johnson and Colligan begin presenting the history of the Fulbright program by describing the state of international educational exchange as far back the 1890’s through the early decades of the twentieth century.  The history of the Fulbright program can easily be told by starting with the end of World War II and the signing of The Fulbright Act of 1946.  Johnson and Colligan, however, enhance one’s understanding of the Fulbright program by providing details about the previous fifty years of international educational exchange in the United States as well as on other national and international events that laid the foundation for Senator J. William Fulbright to introduce his bill in September 1945 which paved the way for creation of the Fulbright program.  This type of historical analysis would be expected from Johnson who was a historian by training.  Johnson and Colligan consult a significant number of both primary and secondary sources to supplement their personal knowledge of the Fulbright program and to inform their research.  A review of the footnotes and “Bibliographical Comment” section of the book provides the reader with a better understanding of the accuracy of Johnson and Colligan’s writings.  They were informed authors and it was an excellent read.

Full Citation:
Johnson, W., & Colligan, F.J.  (1965).  The Fulbright program: A history.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press.