An alternative social imaginary for internationalization in universities

Date created: 
Higher education
Public good(s)
Networked institutions

The purpose of this study is to make recommendations for the practice of internationalization at public research institutions. Responding to the calls to challenge the meaning and intentions of internationalization in higher education, this is a conceptual inquiry into internationalization, relying upon public documents revealing the history, practices, and policies as well as the literature, to investigate how a public research institution in Canada has understood and experienced internationalization and to imagine an ethical and educative implementation of internationalization in the future. This inquiry found a disconnect between some of the practical policies of the institution and government, and the voice of the institutional leader and the students. This difference was reflective of the social imaginary operating behind the policies and actions. The voices of the leader and the students almost exclusively operated from the more collaborative and communicative imaginary. This exploration into the discourse of internationalization has led me to believe that rather than being a mechanism for coping with globalization, internationalization offers individuals and institutions the opportunity for required growth and development. Internationalization is a policy position that can result in practices that inspire an ethic of interconnected problem solving, individual identity development, and an ethos of care in institutions. I argue that without an approach to internationalization that promotes a social imaginary of collaboration and networked institutions, characterized by global citizenship and intercultural learning, universities are at risk of succumbing to the forces of neoliberal policy directions, marketplace politics, and the tradition of status and rankings. This alternative social imaginary for internationalization––valuing a network of people and institutions in order to create conditions that serve, support, and inspire collaboration for learning, research, and change across the globe—will yield a new way of being for universities, one that results from our history and resonates with our contemporary purpose.

Document type: 
This thesis may be printed or downloaded for non-commercial research and scholarly purposes. Copyright remains with the author.
Senior supervisor: 
Peter Grimmett
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ed.D.