Internationalising the Curriculum

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1 Internationalising the Curriculum

2 Internationalising the Curriculum If we want to attract the best students, provide the best experience of living and learning, and give our students the best chance of competing in a global economy, we must continue to retain our international outlook. This starts with the curriculum. It is not enough to provide opportunities that only the most engaged and motivated students take advantage of our international heritage should impact on the experience of all Essex students. This toolkit is a perfect starting point for discussions about how we can continue to embed internationally-relevant opportunities into both the formal curriculum and into extra-curricular activities. There should be something here that is interesting and achievable for any academic department and individual member of staff. Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor, 2012 present Internationalisation is important because it introduces our students to a plurality of ways of doing things. It challenges the idea that there s only one right way to approach a problem. It s about making visible the specificity of the places from which we start our inquiries. I think that s a really crucial experience when you learn, so when you go out into the world you are sensitive to and values different ways of doing things. Once that mental shift is made, one has a completely different perspective and orientation towards life and towards the multiplicity of perspectives and possibilities of the globalised world in which we live. Professor Aletta Norval, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education The Toolkit is great. I think it should be compulsory reading. It balances both perspectives. Students can see where staff are coming from, and staff can see where students are coming from. It s this middle ground that s so important. Jovanna Yiouselli, Students Union Vice-President International

3 Toolkit About this student-led research project This toolkit is one of the main outputs from a one-year student-led research project on internationalising the curriculum. Funded by the University s frontrunners placement scheme and supervised by Learning and Development, the project aimed to explore perspectives on internationalisation and its relevance to the curriculum. A large-scale survey of staff and students was undertaken, followed by a series of interviews with senior managers and staff with relevant expertise. The remit for the two students involved was straightforward: research the subject of internationalisation firstly in the broadest sense, then in relation to the curriculum and produce something that (a) contributes in a positive way to the University s understanding of internationalisation, and (b) has practical value to staff. This toolkit was a natural outcome. The project itself is one of a number of present and planned student-led research projects which address a range of intersecting institutional priorities, including research-led education, employability, retention, and engagement, in this instance using internationalisation as the vehicle. At the time of the project, Marit Boeker was a second-year PhD student in the Department of Government. She became interested in the project on internationalising the curriculum through her own experience of studying abroad, and was eager to learn more about how the University works behind the scenes. I am immensely grateful for having had the chance to do research on this interesting topic in such a great team. Hopefully the outcome of this inspiring time the toolkit will be useful to both staff and students alike. Her fellow researcher, Charlotte Schillinger, was a final-year undergraduate student in the Department of Government studying Politics at the time of the project. Through this project Charlotte wanted to make a positive impact on the University environment and try to help improve the learning and teaching experience for both staff and students. Charlotte also wanted to gain experience as to how a curriculum is compiled and what the key considerations are in this process. I hope through this toolkit both students and staff are able to gain a better understanding of the important role of internationalisation in the curriculum and its unique role at Essex. I further hope those who read this toolkit are motivated to make changes in order to drive internationalisation forward at our University. The best students see themselves as novice researchers and this is something we should encourage more broadly. As envisaged by the University s founding Vice-Chancellor, Sir Albert Sloman, an Essex education should include a curriculum based on research-led teaching where students are taught by great researchers and have hands-on experience of undertaking research themselves. They should be a part of our research community from the outset and have opportunities to undertake their own research throughout their programme of study. It needs to run throughout their degrees, both inside and outside of the classroom. This project shows the scope for broadening the opportunities for students to get involved and to produce legitimate work that is valuable to our institution. Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor Please note: this toolkit was updated to include insights from Professor Aletta Norval and amend dates where necessary. All other aspects of it remain consistent with the original toolkit at the time when it was created by Marit Boeker and Charlotte Schillinger.

4 Internationalising the Curriculum About Tower Publishing Tower publishing is the University s student-only publishing house. It publishes a range of student work, most notably through its flagship venture, ESTRO (Essex Student Research Online), the University s academic journal for students, authored by students and run by students; funded by frontrunners and Learning and Development. Links ESTRO Frontrunners Learning and Development Acknowledgements The authors would like to thank all of the interviewees and respondents to the survey, with particular thanks to Martin Henson, Ivan Hutchins, Jovanna Yiouselli, and Jude Carroll.

5 Toolkit Contents Section One: Concept and Context 1. Overview 1.1 Definition Context Action Rationale Method How to use this toolkit Using the self-assessment tool Internationalising the curriculum at Essex 2.1 The specific context at Essex The curriculum in The Strategic Agenda What the survey revealed 15 Section Two: Tools 3. Practical ways forward: guidelines, ideas, approaches 3.1 Guidelines Self-assessment tool Ideas and approaches Ideas for key staff Key contacts Annotated bibliography 4.1 Books Academic papers Other publications 43

6 Internationalising the Curriculum Concept and Context Section One: Concept and Context

7 Toolkit 1. Overview 1.1 Definition The curriculum is a rather elusive term, meaning different things to different people. At the heart of this is typically a question of scope: how narrowly or broadly does one view the curriculum? In this sense, the literature differentiates between the formal and the informal curriculum. The formal curriculum consists of the syllabi, the teaching content, and the courses offered at a given institution. This is relatively straightforward; it is usually clear what material is covered in a particular degree scheme. However the concept of the informal curriculum goes beyond this view to acknowledge that the learning of students is not limited to the official content of their course, but should include the whole connected experience at university. In the context of this project, internationalising the curriculum was therefore conceptualised in its broadest sense. The curriculum is a fluid concept. Take our MBA programme, which is relatively small at the moment: there are only full-time students and some modular students. There are some UK students in there about 4 or 5 but the others are all international. They bring their experience from where they come from into the classroom. So I wouldn t define the curriculum as being just what s on the pieces of paper which students get what s on the course finder, or whatever it is but defining it as the whole learning experience. So the international students on the MBA will by definition be developing, working on, and thinking about international aspects, because they will be comparing what goes on in one country to another, they will be sharing their experiences. Ideally, what you want is to have more of that engagement between the students in the class about their international experiences. Professor Michael Sherer, Director of Essex Business School 1.2 Context In recent years, internationalisation of the curriculum has risen high on the agenda of higher education institutions in the UK and elsewhere. This is both a response to new realities in terms of the diversity of the student body that teaching staff now encounter and an embodiment of a new understanding of the role of higher education in a globalised world, informed by both UK and EU policy. In other words, internationalisation of the curriculum seeks on the one hand to adapt course syllabi as well as teaching and assessment methods to the needs of students who come together from all over the world, bringing with them a plethora of views, cultures, and experiences with learning and teaching; on the other hand, the globalised job market and global political and cultural interactions demand a new style of higher education, if the latter is to effectively prepare students for their future roles in society there is a compelling argument therefore that internationalisation is crucial to both maximising the experience (and retention and success) of students during their degree and maximising the value of their experience after graduation. The internationalisation agenda is integral to the national employability agenda; indeed the University s own Employability Strategy places global awareness and global citizenship at the heart of its understanding of what an Essex Graduate should be. Our graduates are going to be working in a globally connected world, operating in multi-lingual, multi-cultural workplaces. They need to be globally aware, culturally sensitive, and ideally have competency in a second language. Almost all aspects of higher education learning and teaching play a role in this. Internationalisation in general suggests: an opening up of higher education programmes to a rich diversity of international students; the establishment of appropriate support services and an atmosphere at the higher education institution which respects and advances equality and diversity; collaborative engagements between institutions all over the world; and the incorporation of a global outlook into everything the institution does. Internationalisation of the curriculum in particular includes elements such as: offering collaborative degree schemes; re-orienting the content of course syllabi around globally relevant issues; supporting student and staff mobility across borders; and teaching and assessing students in a way that does not disadvantage on the basis of background. page7

8 Internationalising the Curriculum Concept and Context It s about giving students a worldview so that whatever degree programme they re on there s a global dimension to it; something that makes them look beyond their immediate national horizons whatever they may be. Dr Pam Cox, Graduate Dean 1.3 Action Internationalisation in general, and of the curriculum in particular, receives great support among higher education institutions and the services which support them, with many institutions setting out international agendas and creating posts in relation to international affairs and exchange, and the international outlook and character of an institution playing an important role in promoting itself to the best students and staff worldwide. At Essex, being international has been a priority since the University s conception (Sloman, 1964). Being open to new, different perspectives and experiences is considered critical for a truly well-rounded education (Professor Colin Riordan, former Vice Chancellor, interviewed on 9 May 2012). Internationalisation is about making sure the curriculum ranges over a broad set of comparative references that doesn t rely too much on local cultural knowledge, so that one is not using examples which will only speak to people who have been born and brought up in the UK. Professor Aletta Norval, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education 1.4 Rationale Of course there are often critical and indifferent voices on this subject which point to the conviction that the central or even only concern of higher education institutions must be academic rigor. Thus, any additional agendas which, despite their recognised benefits, divert attention away from the core components of academic quality can then be perceived as threats to the raison d être of higher education and an imposition of norms that compromises the autonomy of teaching and research staff. Consequently, this toolkit is based on the premise that internationalisation of the curriculum is itself an important component of academic quality, provided that it is undertaken in the right way. An imposition of new standards as a one-off endeavour would certainly compromise rather than enhance the quality of academic teaching, learning and research. Yet, on the other hand, making previously resistant students and staff at least consider the position and implications of their teaching, learning and research within the global arena would seem to entail valuable new opportunities and stimuli for higher academic quality too. For example, by opening up new debates, enriching methods and perspectives drawn upon, and testing previously held assumptions within a much wider sphere of applicability. Thus, the internationalisation agenda would be wrongly understood as yet another fashionable add-on to the existing teaching and learning practices which promises a modern reputation but comes at the cost of putting the traditional quality standards of higher education at risk. Rather, it can be understood as an urgent quest which takes account and acts on the changing circumstances being made within higher education. This toolkit acknowledges that different people and different institutions will have very different takes on exactly how the curriculum can and should be internationalised, and indeed such decisions can only be meaningfully made from within the particular circumstances to which they apply. Yet abstaining from any engagement whatsoever with the internationalisation agenda may be shortsighted and detrimental to the continued influence and value of higher education to our societies. My dream is that we should have a suite of degree programmes, probably at least in the early stages they would be Masters programmes, and I d like them to be programmes which are as attractive to a student body in the UK as to a student body outside of the UK. Professor Martin Henson, Dean for International Affairs page8

9 Toolkit 1.5 Method The research for this toolkit consisted of a review of the literature, an online survey, and a series of semi-structured interviews. These methods were chosen and conducted by the student-researchers with guidance from the supervisor. The survey was on the topic of internationalisation in general and aimed to get a broad overview of what students and staff of different study levels and career stages, as well as nationalities and backgrounds, thought about internationalisation when prompted spontaneously. The survey contained both structured (multiple-choice, often with forced ranking) and open questions. The open questions were designed to gather views on what internationalisation means, whether or not it is desirable, and how it is (or should be) understood at the University of Essex. The structured questions prompted participants to rank different areas and dimensions of internationalisation and sought to elucidate which aspects of internationalisation the University was currently perceived as good at and which aspects should be prioritised for future efforts. Three hundred and fifty nine students and staff took part in the survey, which was accessible online between 12 December 2011 and 16 January The survey link was sent to staff via the Learning and Development Bulletin; to all students by the Students Union; and via the smallads ing list to both students and staff. Of all survey respondents, 49 per cent were undergraduate students; 24 per cent administrative staff; 19 per cent postgraduate students; and 8 per cent academic staff. In addition to the survey, 13 semi-structured interviews with key staff at the University were conducted. As a follow-up to the survey, the interviews focused more specifically on the topic of internationalisation of the curriculum. The interviewers followed interview guidelines and asked a range of questions on how internationalisation of the curriculum was understood, whether or not it was desirable, which particular circumstances in departments were most relevant to the internationalisation agenda, and what departments/sections planned to do in the future in order to internationalise. The interviews were also used as an opportunity to inform and gather feedback on the interviewers own developing understanding of what internationalisation of the curriculum means at the University. They helped to shape the toolkit, affirming the need for it to take into account the current realities in different departments in relation to varying stages of internationalisation and the range of wider circumstances which influence it. The interviews lasted between minutes. Interviewees were contacted by and asked for a meeting. Interviews then took place in the interviewees own offices and were recorded with the interviewees consent. Interviews took place between 8 May and 29 May 2012, and updated in June 2014 with quotes from Professor Norval. They were analysed and interpreted by the student-researchers through qualitative analysis and relevant quotes feature throughout this toolkit. Name Position Date Dr Pam Cox Graduate Dean 8 May 2012 Professor Nigel Rodley Chair, Human Rights Centre 9 May 2012 Professor Colin Riordan Former Vice-Chancellor 9 May 2012 Professor Martin Henson Dean for International Affairs 14 May 2012 Dr Michael Halewood Curriculum Director, Sociology 16 May 2012 Professor Michael Sherer Director, Essex Business School 21 May 2012 Professor Eric Smith Head of Department, Economics (at the time) 24 May 2012 Dr Doug Arnold Head of Department, Language and Linguistics 25 May 2012 Leonidas Basatis Students Union Vice-President, International 25 May 2012 Dr Abdel Salhi Head of Department, Mathematics 25 May 2012 Professor Jane Wright Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Academic Standards 29 May 2012 Professor Aletta Norval Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education 17 June 2014 page9

10 Internationalising the Curriculum Concept and Context While this approach used standard scientific methods of research, the intention was not to undertake comprehensive data analysis or produce a traditional outcome in the form of a paper or report. The project remit, determined by the supervisor, was: a) To contribute in a positive way to the University s understanding of internationalisation / internationalisation of the curriculum; and b) To produce an outcome with practical value to staff. The aim was therefore to build a toolkit on a solid foundation of research but conceptualised with a more practical focus in mind. It was necessary to first gain a broad understanding of what was already going on at the University and elsewhere with regard to internationalisation of the curriculum and then focus any further research and analysis on the development of practical tools and tips in order to develop a useful and diverse compendium of hands-on options for internationalisation, rather than going into depth at the conceptual or abstract level. The student-researchers therefore determined that student-led research can be usefully geared towards a specific aim and purpose in which it is not competing with professional research but can potentially receive a legitimate audience: a developmental project with a more applied outcome. Part of the learning experience was to select and adapt the research methods and output accordingly. While the type of in-depth research that was conducted for this project could have been used for a more involved analysis of the data and may subsequently have made a contribution to the conceptual debate on internationalisation, it was considered a valuable experience for the students to use scientific research for a different, more practically-orientated purpose, as this is rarely the focus of projects conducted as part of a degree programme. 1.6 How to use this toolkit This document aims to act as a virtual toolkit. This means that it is first and foremost a practical guide: rather than thoroughly discussing the concept of internationalisation, it provides practical guidance on developing ideas about internationalisation and on how to implement them. This by no means denies the value and necessity of the in-depth debates around internationalisation among both academics and practitioners. A number of key papers and studies are cited and annotated in the bibliography on page 42, yet the focus of this document is to help with the hands-on steps that will follow for those interested in internationalisation after they have been, in one way or another, inspired by the academic debate, hence it is a supplement to the discussion rather than a new contribution. In order to keep the toolkit as practical as possible, it is based on extensive interviews with practitioners and senior managers as well as best-practice examples from other institutions; it includes short overviews of a range of different ideas rather than advocating a few ideas framed in more in-depth discussion; and it wants to meet you exactly where you are by incorporating a self-assessment tool geared towards establishing your department s or section s particular starting position. The ideas it gives will not work out in the same ways or with the same success in each particular circumstance; but it is hoped that the style of this document will at least succeed in drawing attention to the more practical aspects of internationalisation that need tackling for a general interest in internationalisation to actually take effect on the ground. Moreover, this toolkit is intended as a reference guide from which you may pick whatever is most meaningful and appealing, without any requirement for reading the whole document or giving equal attention to each section. For internationalisation to succeed, it is crucial that it take a form that matches the particular circumstances within which it is implemented. Hence, no guideline or idea will be better or worse than another in absolute terms, but its value can only be estimated with regard to the particular context. The reader should feel no obligation to read everything and should regard the list of options as a menu or ticksheet. Pick what appeals to you most, however large or small the immediate effect. Approached in this way, there should be at least one option that is suitable and applicable to all. Education and the University system is by its very nature going to be internationalised. Really good universities are melting pots where everything is all mixed up together. That just comes out of its very existence, and the better you are, the more people from all over the world are going to want to join you, and the easier it is to become more internationalised. Professor Eric Smith, Head of Department of Economics page10

11 Toolkit Don t be deterred by constraints With fraught timetables and competing priorities, potential innovations in teaching and learning can understandably be dismissed as unachievable within the constraints of time, money, and energy. n Don t be discouraged too readily. Successful change takes time. If the whole vision cannot be implemented straightaway, it may be possible to start with activities which are smaller and easier, or even to continue to promote the efforts of internationalisation within your department until the time seems more conducive. n When things don t work out as planned, it can often be very positive: it can be the inspiration for inventiveness and experimentation, with new, unexpected possibilities opening up. This toolkit does not intend to set in stone what internationalisation involves: rather it should be understood as a roadmap to some of the many blue-sky, innovative ways that education can concertedly become more international. And it seeks to inspire just that. Try to be creative and think beyond practices that already exist. Contact the Office for International Affairs if you want some expert help to develop a new idea, even if the idea is nebulous. This may very well lead to new innovations. n It can seem like a range of priorities in teaching and learning are competing with one each other to be top of the agenda. Don t regard these as in competition, however. Often they are interrelated and interdependent: one can reinforce the other. Tackling more than one strategic priority can have many benefits, including having access to more funding: a multifaceted innovation is usually more attractive to strategic and financial planners and funding bodies. For example, internationalisation initiatives very often contribute to the employability agenda: undertaking internships and work experience are even more valuable when experienced abroad; having language skills and the ability to work in multicultural teams looks great on any CV; and incorporating perspectives from a diverse student body opens up the prospect of aligning teaching content even closer with student need. 1.7 Using the self-assessment tool In this spirit, a good starting point for using this toolkit may be the self-assessment tool on page 19. It is to give you a better understanding of where you, your department, your section or your module are now, in order to then point you to those ideas and opportunities which are most relevant to your particular context. You may be at the very beginning of a long-term internationalisation process, looking for some inital ideas that are easy to implement and whose success may then convince those not yet fully on board. Alternatively you may be looking back on a wide range of previous efforts at internationalisation, wishing to find some references and examples from other institutions with which to compare, or to check some best practice guides to see whether what is being done already is being done to the best possible standard. It is important that each reader uses this toolkit in their own way, taking the adequate steps within the given situation. Only then will internationalisation of the curriculum receive the support it requires to be successful for the long haul. One of the biggest advantages to internationalisation is an intellectual one, and it means looking at examples and practices with a different eye, making visible different aspects of an issue or problem. Think about questions such as Why is it that something is done in this and not some other way? And that is the sort of question that can begin to open up other conversations on the subjects and the wider curriculum. Professor Aletta Norval, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education page11

12 Internationalising the Curriculum Concept and Context 2. Internationalising the curriculum at Essex 2.1 The specific context at Essex The University of Essex has traditionally taken great pride in its international character. It has a score of 98.7 out of 100 for international students at the QS World University Rankings 2011 and is among the top 10 UK universities in this category. The international make-up of the student body is well-known among students and staff at the University, and it is emphasised in prospectuses and by speeches made by the University leadership and the Students Union. As such, internationalisation can be regarded as part of the core identity of the University. This self-understanding dates back to the University s beginnings in 1964, when it was founded on the principles of being international, research-intensive, interdisciplinary and student-focused. We are a research-intensive university, and research is an obvious way to internationalise the classroom. Research that is internationally relevant, collaborative, or paradigm-shifting, or international in scope, brings the classroom to life whilst at the same time showing students what research and the world outside of the University is all about. Professor Anthony Forster, Vice-Chancellor The international make-up of the student body varies from department to department, with Essex Business School having the highest ratio with approximately 60 per cent of students classed as international with the share of international students across the entire University averaging roughly 40 per cent each year. Only the London universities such as University College London, London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African Studies have higher ratios of international to home students. Strikingly however, the home students at the University are mostly drawn from the local area. This has been emphasised by various members of staff who were interviewed in the research phase of this report, and echoed by several students who said that whilst they are aware of the high numbers of international students at Essex, they do not generally mix with them very much. Thus the focus of future efforts towards greater internationalisation at the University lies as much in the internationalisation of home students, especially through outward mobility and language learning. Moreover, a network of universities across the globe, the Global Alliance, is currently in the making, with partnerships already established with the University of Konstanz in Germany and the Jawaharlal Nehru University in India and further institutions to join in the future. More generally speaking, the University of Essex is one of the top universities in the UK, being ranked seventh nationally for teaching quality and ninth nationally for excellence in research. 1 Our Government and Sociology departments are ranked first in the UK, with our Economics department ranked third and Linguistic department ranked forth nationally. The University is now charging the top level of fees ( 9000 per year), which is significant for internationalisation insofar as it links with increasing expectations from customers in terms of teaching quality, as much as future employability in a globalised, competitive world. Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Students Union at the University is particularly active, having won prizes for its quality in the past. As such, prospects for internationalisation pertain not only to the remit of formal learning and teaching, but also to the informal curriculum with various activities by student societies and University-wide social events. 1 page12

13 Toolkit 2.2 The curriculum in 2012 The degree of internationalisation of the curriculum differs significantly between departments. The University comprises four faculties with 15 schools and departments and four attached research centres and institutes for collaborative research. The Faculty of Humanities and Comparative Studies includes the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (CISH), the Department of History, the Department of Literature, Film and Theatre Studies, the East 15 Acting School, the International Academy, and the School of Philosophy and Art History. The Faculty of Law and Management comprises Essex Business School, the School of Law, the Human Rights Centre, and the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution. The Faculty of Science and Engineering includes the Department of Biological Sciences, the Department of Mathematical Sciences, the Department of Psychology, the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, and the School of Health and Human Sciences. Finally, the Faculty of Social Sciences comprises the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, the Department of Economics, the Department of Government, the Department of Language and Linguistics, the Department of Sociology, the Institute for Social and Economic Research, and the UK Data Archive. Of these different departments, Essex Business School has been identified by this project as highly internationalised already. The higher ratio of international to home students, as well as to the nature of the subject lending itself particularly well to international learning, teaching, and research, may have contributed to a more organic, urgent, and ongoing process of internationalisation. However, the nature of the discipline is not the most decisive determinant of the current degree of internationalisation in departments: disciplines that may easily be termed by some as beyond internationalisation because they are the same everywhere, such as Mathematics and Computer Science, have been found to be already benefitting from a broad range of internationalisation efforts with tangible impact on the way the subject is taught (see the feature box below). Regardless of discipline, it is both important and beneficial to place theories and concepts into their cultural and historical context: the Greek and Arab worlds gave us much of today s mathematics, for example. In contrast, departments which teach disciplines that might be perceived as lending themselves more readily to internationalisation have been found to be less internationalised in some cases. The main determining factor here was the understanding and motivation by academic staff, particularly in relation to their perception of internationalisation as threatening academic freedom and independence. Internationalising a subject like mathematics There is an assumption to be made that internationalisation works well for some subjects but is irrelevant to others. It is easy to just include more of an international dimension in a History module, for example, but Mathematics is the same everywhere in the world! Yet even subjects like Mathematics can be further internationalised: n Internationalisation is not just about content but also about ways of teaching, engaging, and assessing. Even if (for the sake of argument) the mathematics curriculum does not change, there may be significant value in incorporating more group work, making use of vodcasts, or varying the examples used for calculation exercises, for example. n Professor Abdel Salhi, Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Essex, offers some clear examples of this. Students from different countries have different interests when it comes to the applications of mathematical skill. For example, students from developing countries require modules in applied mathematical modelling, e.g. on topics relating to a country s development, such as population dynamics, economic growth, and state finances. Home students, on the other hand, may prefer less applied modules with a focus on formal skills and the derivation of formulas rather than their application. An internationalised mathematics curriculum is responsive to students perspectives in terms of what they expect their degree to equip them with, and hence offer a reasonable mix of more and less applied modules. n There are many exciting ways in which Maths students can benefit from study experiences abroad to broaden their horizons. Examples include summer schools in other countries, international study tours that put mathematical topics into new cultural and historic perspectives, or internships abroad in applied Mathematics to understand how Maths is used in different countries. page13

14 Internationalising the Curriculum Concept and Context 2.3 The Strategic Agenda The University of Essex is strongly committed to internationalisation and already considers itself a highly internationalised institution 2, showcasing its ranking sixth nationally and 25 th internationally in numbers of international students as well as third nationally and 39 th internationally in international faculty 3. Its International Strategic Agenda sets out the aim to develop both a process and a culture of internationalisation based on a collaborative approach, covering a wide range of areas from student experience and institutional links and partnerships to professional staff mobility and contribution to international development goals. A process of internationalisation is defined as an ongoing development of sustainably integrating an international dimension within all the University s core activities, whereas a culture of internationalisation denotes an environment that is supportive and encouraging to an outward-facing globally-oriented approach to what the University does 4. In addition, a number of more general policies impact on the aim of internationalisation more indirectly. Of importance here are equality and diversity policies as well as the more recent Dignity and Respect Charter. Amongst other things, these firmly reject formal or informal discrimination of any kind, including religion and ethnicity, and promote an environment of tolerance, multiculturalism and diversity. Against the background of these policies, internationalisation of the curriculum is both extremely relevant to the University in playing its part in the overall development of further internationalisation and finds fruitful soil on which to grow organically in an integrated and committed manner. The University has a strong commitment to internationalisation which is demonstrated through the Agenda. The Agenda states that the University s aim is to build on both the process and culture of internationalisation at the University, achieving this by promoting a globally orientated approach which is focused, integrated and deliberate. The University s vision of a fully internationalised institution contains an internationally informed and engaged curriculum, student and academic/professional staff mobility both inwardly and outwardly and research that is internationally engaged, with international impact and coverage. Thus the main goal of the Agenda is to design and offer a range of internationally-engaged academic programmes with international partner universities. Consequently, internationalisation of the curriculum is instrumental in ensuring the University reaches its goal and thus increases its profile and visibility in international league table rankings. There already exists a internationally-focused curriculum across many departments at the University. Moreover, there has been considerable enthusiasm from departments to enhance students international experience through the expansion of the study abroad programme. Thus there is a move towards franchised Essex curricula overseas through short courses and intensive academic programmes delivered through or by international partners to encourage research students to include an international dimension. In addition, the Agenda hopes to internationalise the curriculum further by integrating activities and partnerships across the University in order to share best practise. It further seeks to deepen the international dimension of teaching and research within the University in the hope that students and researchers will be inspired. It also seeks to internationalise research through international and interdisciplinary research on selected Global Challenges and to contribute to the international development of higher education through educational, research and professional capacity-building initiatives. In summary, the University already does a lot to focus on internationalising the curriculum, which is helped by the fact that many departments are interdisciplinary. Both the Agenda and the survey from this project highlight the importance of developing ways to transfer knowledge. This is conveyed through the idea of establishing a plan and guidance to support an innovative international curriculum which develops delivery skills through interaction with international partners thereby improving the overall student experience and encouraging internationalised career competencies for students. This aligns with the aim of this toolkit and illustrates its key importance in providing a way for the aims of the Agenda to be put into practice. 5 2 University of Essex: International Strategic Agenda accessed 05/03/ University of Essex: International Strategic Agenda Ibid page14

15 Toolkit 2.4 What the survey revealed The internationalisation student and staff survey has provided important background information for embarking on targeted, practical efforts towards internationalising the curriculum at the University (copies of the full survey report are available from Learning and Development The following insights may inform future steps towards internationalisation of the curriculum: n While the responses overall related to numerous different aspects of internationalisation, there is a demand for more information on the breadth of the concept. Many survey respondents intuitively perceived internationalisation to have only a narrow meaning, but when pressed indicated a wider range of aspects as important priorities for internationalisation at Essex. Thus, there is currently a gap in understanding between term and concept. n Although internationalisation of the curriculum was acknowledged as a high priority, it is an area in which progress was felt to be in some ways limited. This indicates that there is both demand and support for efforts at internationalising the curriculum. n Of all groups of survey respondents, undergraduate students were least aware of the concept of internationalisation of the curriculum. Moreover, the general understanding of internationalisation differs somewhat between undergraduate and postgraduate students. Thus, different student and staff groups may need to be targeted and approached in different ways. n Further promising foci for future research and practical steps were identified. Links with other universities, perceptions of the international reputation of the University, as well as opportunities for fruitful collaboration between different agents and agencies at the University, all w arrant further exploration. n A significant gap between priorities for internationalisation and the perceived performance of the University so far has been revealed regarding the aspect of building links with universities abroad. This suggests that a lot may be gained from incorporating this dimension into practical efforts towards internationalised teaching, learning, and research. The same applies for putting structures in place that allow for more informal communication among students/staff both socially and academically. Our students often raise issues in the course of discussions and seminars that open up the curriculum. These are dialogues that need to be fostered, and encouraged. I think students play a very crucial role in bringing an international set of issues into the conversation. Professor Aletta Norval, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education From my experience, many international students still feel like guests of the home students. And home students can often act like hosts. Home student may not necessarily be a helpful term. It may perpetuate this role-playing. Jovanna Yiouselli, Students Union Vice-President International page15

16 Internationalising the Curriculum Tools Section Two: Tools

17 Toolkit 3. Practical ways forward 3.1 Guidelines This toolkit identifies a broad range of opportunities for internationalising the curricula (both formal and informal) at higher education institutions in the UK. There is unequivocally no recommendation that institutions or departments should implement all measures, nor should the range be considered exhaustive. Based on the understanding that internationalisation activities must fit the context within which they are applied in order to be both effective and long-lasting, this toolkit is more akin to a box of chocolates from which you may pick what appeals to you most, at the time that seems to you most suitable. Moreover, the ideas outlined hereafter may stimulate further thought and discussion on ways of implementing an internationalised curriculum which may in turn lead to yet more possibilities and creative ideas. Given our conviction that internationalisation of the curriculum must be approached in the right way in order to take a meaningful and productive trajectory, the index of opportunities in this section of the toolkit is preceded and supplemented by these general guidelines that should apply irrespective of the particular institutional context and course content. These guidelines correspond with best practice examples yet also draw on the academic and professional literature on internationalisation and the views of those involved with the internationalisation agenda, most notably heads of department, curriculum directors, and teaching staff at higher education institutions. These guidelines comprise the following: n Any attempt at internationalising curricula must be preceded by a thorough discussion of the aims, hopes, and concerns of those subject to the agenda (see the feature box overleaf). n A process of implementing the internationalisation agenda must be framed and steered in such a way that new rules are not enforced but emerge out of an organic process of change. n Like with other new developments, a lot will depend on practical possibilities. The implementation of an internationalised curriculum should thus be informed by a good understanding of practical hurdles for those involved (students as much as staff) and an effort made at overcoming these hurdles through creative new solutions. Financial or other incentives may be a stepping stone towards a determined search and adoption of new approaches by staff and students. n The creation of new solutions and opportunities often depends on the joint efforts of those in different but equally relevant positions. Internationalisation of the curriculum should thus involve key staff and decision-makers at all levels, including the leading management of the institution. n Internationalisation of the curriculum demands neither a complete overhaul of existing practices nor one-sided reference to outside experts. Existing resources, for example staff members or contacts in other countries, can often be drawn upon to make the first changes. Likewise, there is no need to institute an entire new curriculum; an approach that starts by re-focusing what already exists, for example by re-naming modules to reflect their specific rather than globally applicable content, may be more effective and sustainable in the long run. This could be a re-naming of a module from Political Theory into Anglo-Saxon Political Theory from 1600 to present, or re-naming a course from Mathematics to Mathematics with a focus on global applications, for example. n The most authentic end point of internationalisation is not so much a sharp increase in attention to the particularities of international students but a vision in which it is otherwise considered irrelevant where people come from, and in which their diversity is simply taken for granted. page17

18 Internationalising the Curriculum Tools The first step towards internationalisation: Discuss! You may find it more helpful to discuss the following questions in reverse order, starting with the bigger picture and then focusing on the more specific departmental/programme-level/classroom context. Regarding the formal curriculum n What learning outcomes do we expect? n What do we want learning experiences to be? n What do we want our students to achieve? n How are we assessing students, and why? Regarding the informal curriculum n What services are offered to students? n What opportunities for further experience beyond the formal curriculum could there be? Regarding the institution as a whole n What is the mission of this institution? n What ethos do we want to promote? n What are the institution s priorities, and why? Regarding the national context n What is the culture of higher education in the past, present and future? n What characteristics and cultural aspects shape higher education? Regarding the whole world n What kind of world do we live in? n What kind of world do we want to live in? n What is our global responsibility? Adapted from Leask 2011, Internationalization of the Curriculum, presentation given at Duke University, North Carolina. page18

19 Toolkit 3.2 Self-assessment tool How to use the self assessment tool In order to get an indication of how internationalised your department currently is and how to understand the best steps to take in order to further internationalise your department, please answer the questions below as accurately as possible. Each answer assigns a points value which should be noted down and totalled once all the questions have been answered. At the end of the list of eight questions there are three boxes which each represent a different points range. Use your final score to locate the relevant box which will recommend relevant next steps for your department and identify the most appropriate parts of the toolkit. Q1. Does your subject lend itself to incorporating lots of international perspectives? a) Absolutely. Comparisons between different cultural settings enrich the discussion (3 points) b) It might, but that would really shift the focus of the subject as it is taught at the moment (2 points) c) No, this subject is taught in the same way everywhere in the world (1 point) Q2. Is the internationalisation agenda being discussed among staff members within your department? a) Yes, definitely (3 points) b) At times, but only between certain staff members and not substantially (2 points) c) No, not at all (1 point) Q3. How eager do you feel colleagues / teaching staff in your department are to try new approaches? a) Staff are generally eager to try new methods and experiment (3 points) b) Change tends to occur only when it is evident that it makes sense and the payoff is clear (2 points) c) Staff generally prefer tried and tested methods and are resistant to change (1 point) Q4. Does the Head of Department actively support and see a place for internationalisation within your department? a) Yes, definitely (3 points) b) Possibly, in the right circumstances (2 points) c) It doesn t seem so (1 point) Q5. How international are the student groups you teach? a) Very international with lots of students from a vast range of countries (3 points) b) Relatively mixed, but often the same core groups / nationalities dominate (2 points) c) Rather homogeneous (1 point) Q6. How dependent is your subject on internationalised teaching practices such as study abroad, language training, and international perspectives incorporated into learning and teaching? a) Internationalisation is essential to this subject (3 points) b) It might be useful, but it is not essential (2 points) c) This is of no concern to this subject (1 point) Q7. Is your department offering study abroad opportunities? a) Yes, this is very successful in our department (3 points) b) To an extent, but this could still be developed further (2 points) c) No, this doesn t interest the department (1 point) Q8. Is your department offering collaboratively managed modules/courses? a) Yes, we have dual degree schemes / collaboratively managed modules (3 points) b) Currently the department has none in place but it is an area being explored (2 points) c) This is not an option our department considers would be effective (1 point) page19

20 Internationalising the Curriculum Tools Result 8 15 points points points You are near the beginning of the process of internationalisation. At this stage it is important to have inclusive discussions on the topic. Different people may have different views on internationalisation and be coming to it from very different angles. It is important to clarify and explore these multiple understandings. Recommended actions: A.1 Classroom engagement, p.21 A.2 Student perspectives and personal experience, p.21 A.3 Comparative case studies and materials, p.22 A.4 Staff perspectives, p.23 A.8 Varied interactivity, p.25 A.9 Varied materials, p.26 A.13 Collaborative conferences, p.27 B.2 Free language classes, p.28 B.3 Universal examples, p.29 C.7 Study Abroad / Research Abroad / Work Abroad, p.33 C.8 Summer schools and courses, p.35 C.9 Excursions, visiting studentships, and research stays, p.36 It seems that in your department the conditions are right for more in-depth internationalisation; the important foundations may have already been laid, and the concept may receive enough support for it to be taken to higher levels in the future. As a next step, why don t you explore more fundamental changes, such as new courses or modules offered? Recommended actions: A.5 Guest lecturing, p.23 A.6 Virtual lectures, p.24 A.7 Staff-led approaches, p.25 A.10 International outlook as a quality marker, p.26 B.1 Syllabus exchanges, p.28 C.3 Comparative courses and modules, p. 31 C.10 Integrating language learning with degree, p.36 C.11 Varied provision, p.36 C.12 Summer schools and courses, p.35 You have implemented a lot already and have achieved a good level of internationalisation. This is the perfect time to be creative and try out more experimental and potentially groundbreaking new ideas. The more internationalised you already are, the easier it should be to get these off the ground, and it could be both exciting and motivating for colleagues. Recommended actions: A.11 Varied assessment, p.27 A.12 Value-added assessment, p.27 C.1 Joint modules, p.30 C.2 Dual degree, p.30 C.4 Joint- or co-supervision, p.31 C.5 Open module programmes with partners, p.32 C.6 Collaborative degree programmes, p.32 page20

For more information about this report please contact Dr Abigail Diamond at CFE T: 0116 229 3300 Email:

For more information about this report please contact Dr Abigail Diamond at CFE T: 0116 229 3300 Email: The project team would like to extend particular thanks to all of the employers, universities and other stakeholders that participated in interviews as well as Ian Robinson and Rajeeb Dey for their input.

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