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Unpacking Ethical Chasms: The Guise of Global Educational Empowerment and Internationalization

Sat, April 9, 2:15 to 3:45pm, Convention Center, Level One, Room 154 A


The present paper interrogates the ethical praxis of global educational research where the clash between the local and global are complex and multilayered and where the ethics are more confounded than resolved.
First, the paper presents a recent pursuit in which a project directed at empowering young women encounters a class between the projects aspirations and community expectations especially disposition toward disclosure. Touting goals of global citizenship, cosmopolitanism, a global digital network, the students from classrooms (located in different countries in remote and of varying social and economic circumstances) explore their lives on-line. When the local community members and family members question what the students are sharing on-line, the young girls are confronted with being positioned amidst the oppositional forces of a project’s empowerment goals, its digital interface (i.e. text and images akin to Facebook) including global reach against the angst of community expectations. The paper argues that the ethical complexities need to be unmasked lest the ethics represent a slight of hand or a failure to accommodate local cultural practices or represent the interests of some, but not all in a fashion that is judicious and respectful. In particular, should a western enterprise and construction of empowerment furthered by digital tool kits and global network trump cultural respect for others (individual and groups) and what the parameters or principles that might be applicable when working across borders? Is there a failure to interrogate or complicate advocacy research and the confluence of discussions of global knowledge transfer, cosmopolitanism, participatory culture, digitally based social networking, social justice and empowerment? How might researchers resolve the tensions that arise between local and global, between advancing the individual while dispossessing the community?
Second, the paper also attempts to unpack the ethics involved in the global knowledge economy with a focus upon the internationalization goals of Chinese scholars (via translations of their work, the pursuit of publication in western journals and differential enlistment of international scholarship in Chinese educational research outlets). The analysis explores the shifts that are occurring especially how knowledge and knowledge workers are repositioned to meet standards outside of China. It explores the claim by Raewyn Connell (2007) that social science at its core is an undemocratic enterprise in its preference for the traditions of the Northern scholars. As she stated: do we need to learn from, of, about and with those historically marginalized, such as eastern and southern scholars, as well as to study up to understand how the intersecting local and international forces operate to contribute or detract from a form of collective accommodation so that we might engage with one another in ways that befit true partnership and earnest, respectful and transformative scholarly pursuits (Smith, 1999; 2005). Will it require as Luke (2004) suggested:
…. analyses that continually situate and resituate learners and teachers, their local conditions, social relations and communities, in critical analyses of the directions, impacts and consequences of global flows of capital, bodies, and discourse. (Pp. 1438–1439, 1441)


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