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Internationalization in Conflict-Ridden Societies and Within Migrant Populations

Wed, March 28, 5:00 to 6:30pm, Museo de Arte Popular, Floor: Ground Floor, Auditorium

Group Submission Type: Panel Session


During the last decades, education systems worldwide have faced an intensifying need to adapt to a rapidly changing post-industrial global environment that is continuously being challenged by social, technological, economic, and political transformations. Indeed, the dynamic and technological 21st century environment results in today’s youth living and studying in a global, cosmopolitan world and using novel tools, devices, and skills, thus forcing schools to adapt to a new internationalized way of teaching and learning (Altbach & Knight, 2007).

Internationalization has transformed from a reactive issue to a proactive, strategic one; it has metamorphosed from an element of added value to becoming quite mainstream. In this process its focus, scope, and content have substantially evolved (de Wit, 2002; Dolby & Rahman, 2008). Policy-makers at both the institutional and national levels invest significant resources to internationalize in response to economic, political, academic, and cultural pressures, which in a certain sense contradict the initial aims of education as a consolidator of national identity within a nation-state.

Individuals are urged to develop assets and capabilities that are valuable in such a global environment (Deardorff, 2006; 2011). In this environment, cosmopolitan capital (Weenink, 2008; 2009) becomes one of the most desired assets for students and has thus transformed into a major policy objective at all education levels; mobility is promoted as a key characteristic of internationalization (Doherty, 2009). These pressures for cosmopolitanism emerge in addition to the existing, conflicting pressures of nationalization, thus forcing education systems to comply with two sets of contradicting influences and trends (Stromquist & Monkman, 2014).

However, due to the perceived elite nature of the discourse on internationalization, the analysis often excludes refugees and migrants dislocated from countries of conflict and war – who are mobile out of necessity (Kenway & Fahey, 2014). Nevertheless, those populations are increasingly accessing national schools in host countries globally (Dryden-Peterson, 2015), becoming an integral and increasingly important element within host nations’ education systems. Not only students are one move. Increasingly faculty and staff move between countries and regions as well, many times due to forced or necessity based migration (Larsen, 2018). Since internationalization processes often cater to members of social elites (Weenink, 2008, 2009), it is particularly interesting to examine how the interplay between refugee and migrant populations’ exposure to other cultures (at mixed schools and through migration) and their often marginalized social status shape policies, teaching-learning processes, pedagogy, and organization at schools and universities within different regions and cultures.

Refugee and migrant populations could particularly benefit from an approach to internationalization that calls for integration of global, international, and intercultural dimensions within the aims, function, and delivery of education (Altbach & Knight, 2007). In divided societies and societies in conflict, such education bears potential to overcome differences and create common ground for dialogue and shared identify (Davies, 2006).

This session seeks to enlighten and expand the discourse on international, global, and intercultural dimensions in education within conflict-ridden areas and regarding areas serving refugee and migrant populations. Thus, it will initiate a new strand of educational research that will combine the study of education within conflict zones with the field of internationalization in education, thereby generating new understandings. This may be one of the first comprehensive attempts to conceptualize and establish the relationships between the policies and outcomes of internationalization, the education of migrant populations, and education within conflict-ridden societies.

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