Book Review: Faculty Engagement in Internationalization

The Twenty-First Century University: Developing Faculty Engagement in InternationalizationBook Review, submitted by Wendy Williamson

The Twenty-first Century University: Developing Faculty Engagement in Internationalization (Complicated Conversation: a Book Series of Curriculum Studies) by Dr. Lisa K. Childress is a must-read for those charged with internationalizing higher education. This groundbreaking title was just published in 2010. It covers the history of internationalization, provides a critical analysis of the literature (including rationales and plans), and explores the roles and attitudes of faculty. It also presents the challenges and obstacles to faculty engagement, and of course, sound solutions. About sixty percent of the book is devoted to two case studies of Duke University and the University of Richmond.

The Twenty-First Century University bridges the gap between the individual components of internationalization and the holistic, integrative process. It broadens and deepens our understanding of the concept and provides concrete strategies for transforming rhetoric into reality. I enjoyed reading about the different levels of faculty engagement (champions, advocates, latent champions and advocates, uninterested, skeptics, opponents) and how to guide movement and change through strategic incentives. Dr. Childress provides six overarching recommendations to encourage and reward faculty in internationalization.

I also found the case studies to be helpful, with both a centralized and decentralized approach. Dr. Childress doesn’t stop with what they did, but why they did it and how it worked. For example, the University of Richmond offers a biennial seminar for a group of faculty to travel to countries infrequently visited by Americans. This seminar was strategically designed to engage participants in the objectives of internationalization through a required pre-seminar series of participant-led meetings (to build bridges between faculty and disciplines), guided discussions (to stimulate international-mindedness), and a post-seminar report with plans for curricular integration.

From a holistic point of view, the case studies also uncovered the power of students in the process of internationalization. At both institutions, it was student inquiry and demand that motivated faculty to infuse global dimensions into their work. Perhaps beyond sending domestic students abroad and bringing international students to our campuses, strategic plans should also include the active recruitment and engagement of international-minded students. Strong study abroad programs, faculty-led opportunities, and other incentives like scholarships, can be used to draw the right pre-college students to our degree-granting institutions.

After reading how Duke University and the University of Richmond advanced international knowledge and developed global competency in their higher education communities, there’s a chapter on implications and conclusions. Dr. Childress identifies five essential components in a model called the Five I’s of Faculty Engagement in Internationalization (Intentionality, Investments, Infrastructure, Institutional Networks, and Individual Support). Without these critical components, it is virtually impossible for a higher education institution to effectively facilitate the development of global competence and citizenship.

This book is well written and contains lots of useful information and insights. It presents strong rationales, common obstacles, and excellent solutions. For Presidents, Provosts, and other institutional leaders who yearn to get past the rhetoric to institutional change, I highly recommend read this book. It’s a book you’ll want to read more than once, share with your colleagues, use in your work, and keep on hand for reference. I commend Dr. Childress for this fine contribution to our field, and I strongly support her position;  “In order to internationalize their curricula, faculty need specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes, as well as institutional support” (page 28).

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  1. “This study on faculty engagement in internationalization provides insight into a crucial aspect of internationalization policies in higher education that has received too little attention before: how to stimulate faculty interest and involvement in internationalization strategies and activities in institutions of higher education. Her analysis, case studies and recommendations will be of relevance for colleges and universities in strengthening their internationalization objectives. ” –Hans de Wit, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences; Editor, Journal of Studies in International Education

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