International scholars have been flogging the internationalisation paradigm for over 40 years. It's a Western paradigm with a focus on a ‘First World’ Western knowledge base. Western hegemonic knowledge construction devalues, discards and dismisses other knowledge forms and indigenous perspectives on building glocal (local and global) communities, sustainable living and raising the quality of life through quality education.
International higher education has failed in its responsibility to act as a catalyst for social change in meeting the 2015 Millennium Development Goals to enhance education for all. The critical question for the international higher education community then is whether internationalisation is a misconception or a manufactured hegemonic Western paradigm that aims to uphold Western economies.
The fact that higher education internationalisation has survived for over 40 years and moved from the margins to the centre as a revenue-generating machine demonstrates that its survival and reinvention in different forms is part of a skilfully engineered agenda.
If international higher education leaders were concerned with inspiring learner and teacher cohorts to seek context-based innovative solutions to bring about sustainable social change for the benefit of glocal communities, they would have used higher education as the primary catalyst for advancing sustainability for all communities as one humanity.
Internationalisation would have been redesigned as an equity-, inclusivity- and diversity-embracing agenda with a higher education social responsibility strategy funding social change research and projects among learners and teachers. These would form an embedded holistic curriculum focused on social transformation for the benefit of glocal communities.
It is time to call for the re-alignment of the international higher education agenda with the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, to enhance education quality and sustainable living for glocal communities. In order to achieve the SDGs, the international higher education community must adopt a more inclusive, equitable agenda which embraces approaches that will diversify their knowledge base and perspectives.
Glocalisation of learning (an alternative to the current internationalisation discourse) advocates for the respectful sharing of cultural wealth and strengths of diverse glocal communities.
It rejects the stereotypical, prejudiced and discriminatory practices of internationalisation that have focused on the hegemony of the English language, which sees foreign student as a never-ending source of cash and which has dichotomised the ‘First World-Third World’ or developing and developed communities and their political economies based on a theoretical perspective first conceived of in Western institutions in the 1950s and 1960s.
Glocalisation of learning respects indigenous knowledge, embraces other worldviews and encourages the co-construction of knowledge forms. It brings together the ‘First and Third World’ communities as a world community focused on sustainability and quality education for the collective future of our single humanity.
Dr Fay Patel has 30 years teaching, research and educational development experience in international higher education in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and South Africa. She has contributed to many journals and books on a range of subjects including decolonisation of the curriculum. These contributions include “Deconstructing Internationalization: Advocating glocalization in international higher education”, in the Journal of International and Global Studies, Volume 8 Number 2, April 2017.
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