The Critical Internationalization Studies Network brings together scholars, practitioners, educators, students, and community organizations interested in reimagining dominant patterns of relationship, representation, and resource distribution in the internationalization of education. Beyond fostering engagements between diverse critical perspectives, we seek to facilitate collaboration, the sharing of information about events and opportunities, and the exchange of knowledge and pedagogical resources. While the emphasis of the network is on higher education contexts, there are many resonances with K-12 and informal education contexts as well.
The internationalization of higher education has been deemed instrumental to preparing globally engaged students, producing relevant knowledge, and generating solutions for an ever more complex, uncertain, and interconnected world. However, with the growth of international activities in the past few decades has also come a growing anxiety that internationalization has “lost its way” (Brandenburg & de Wit, 2011). According to de Wit (2014), “internationalisation in higher education is at a turning point and the concept of internationalisation requires an update, refreshment and fine-tuning taking into account the new world and higher education order” (p. 97). Many have noted that it is not only conceptual issues that require deepened engagement, but also ethical, political, and relational issues as well. Critical perspectives on internationalization have emerged that: voice concerns about the risks of reproducing uneven global power relations, representations, and resource flows; problematize and complicate the overwhelmingly positive and often depoliticized nature of mainstream approaches to internationalization, particularly in Western/ized institutions; and put forth new possible approaches to international engagements, pedagogies, and forms of knowledge production.
Efforts to critically assess and reimagine the current orientation of mainstream internationalization are varied, and the changes or reformulations that are possible and desirable will depend on the configurations of power and policy that converge within a particular context, and the political and theoretical investments of those involved. Thus, there is no single way to rethink internationalization. Rather, there is a need to persistently attend to the complexities and tensions that characterize this work, and to put contradictory ideologies, desires, and interests into conversation without requiring consensus, while also developing practical, context-specific interventions that will necessarily be provisional, imperfect, and quite possibly create new problems.
The Critical Internationalization Studies Network seeks to help foster these conversations, and the collaborations that may arise out of them. While we welcome a diversity of perspectives, and engage in a spirit of intellectual generosity (including generous critique), several organizing orientations shape our work:
- Challenging inherited epistemic hierarchies, by denaturalizing those hierarchies, contextualizing the possibilities and limitations of all knowledge systems, and considering how to bring different knowledge systems into conversation while respecting the integrity of each and the incommensurabilities between them;
- Thinking/acting trans-locally, by asking how differently situated communities (near and far) are affected by any particular approach to internationalization, engaging the affected communities, and critically questioning who has the power, authority, and resources to decide which approach is ultimately taken;
- Fostering respectful relationships, by working toward producing and distributing resources more equitably, challenging the presumption of singular epistemic authorities, and diffusing the harmful affective responses and projections that often emerge in engagements across communities, particularly those in conflict;
- Facing complexity and complicity, by recognizing different theories of change, identifying points of tension between and within them that make rethinking internationalization complex and difficult, and interrupting circularities of critique.
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