Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

Developing internationalised curriculum for a ‘supercomplex’ world: An analysis of narratives written by academics in business, education and health (#30)

Wendy Green 1 , Craig Whitsed 2
  1. UTAS, Launceston, TAS, Australia
  2. Murdoch University, Perth, WA, Australia

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Today’s graduates need the knowledge, skills and dispositions to live, work and continue to learn in an increasingly complex, globalised world. ‘Internationalisation of the curriculum’ (IoC) is one important response (Leask & Bridge, 2013) to the challenges of preparing graduates for ‘supercomplexity’ (Barnett, 2000). While universities embrace IoC there is a gap between IoC rhetoric and educational practices (cf Childress, 2010). Developing and teaching an internationalised curriculum is complex, transformative work (Sanderson, 2008). Yet, faculty voices are largely silent in the IoC literature. We present a critical, meta-analysis of narrative accounts about doing IoC, as told by academics in three disciplines (business, education and health) in several countries. We asked academics to tell us their IoC stories, addressing the context in which they work, their motivations, challenges, achievements and the impact of this on students’ learning. Our meta-analysis involves two moves: firstly, a thematic analysis to draw out significant commonalities and differences between each; secondly, a ‘symptomatic’ reading (Althusser, 1968) to reveal in the narratives the underdeveloped or silenced. In the latter, we were interested in what might be exposed if we analysed the narratives in conjunction with an analysis of the context(s) (Lee & Poynton, 2005) in which universities operate. The ‘narrative turn’ (Riessman, 2008) provides a way of analysing the complex, non-linear and contextual process of curriculum development. Foundational to narrative research is the idea that story-tellers themselves construct meaning by putting ‘data’ into words and revealing the meanings of their actions (Clandinen 2007). Acknowledging the story-teller as creator of knowledge resonates with Leask and Bridge’s (2013) model for IoC within disciplines, in that the latter positions the academic staff as architects, owners and directors of the process of curriculum internationalisation.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

This showcase paper addresses the conference themes of ‘educating graduates to be responsive and adaptable professionals’, and ‘navigating uncertainty and complexity’, in the context of ‘internationalisation of the curriculum’ (IoC). There is growing agreement that opportunities for developing intercultural, global perspectives, and the ability to deal with ‘wicked’, global problems must be woven into the core of the curriculum. The commitment to ensuring all students have these learning opportunities is encapsulated in IoC policies of countless universities, yet realising IoC at the coalface of teaching and learning is another matter. Little attention has been given to what IoC means in practice, how it is conceived, implemented and assessed within specific disciplines (Green & Whitsed, 2013; Leask, 2013). This is a problem because IoC - like any curriculum development - can only come to life in disciplinary contexts. This showcase illuminates how university teachers navigate uncertainty and complexity as they engage in the personally and intellectually challenging work of IoC (Sanderson, 2008). In addition, it provides concrete examples of good practice and presents recommendations for supporting and extending IoC in disciplinary contexts, so that we can better ‘educate graduates to be responsive and adaptive professionals’ and citizens.

  1. Althusser, L. (1968, trans. 1970) Reading Capital. London: New Left Books.
  2. Barnett, R. (2000). Realising the university in an age of supercomplexity. Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
  3. Childress, L. K. (2010). The Twenty-first Century University: Developing Faculty Engagement in Internationalization. New York: Peter Lang.
  4. Green, W. & Whitsed, C (2013). Reflections on an alternative approach to continuing professional learning for internationalisation of the curriculum across disciplines. Journal of Studies in International Education, 17 (2), 148-164.
  5. Leask, B. (2013). Internationalising the curriculum in the disciplines – imagining new possibilities. Journal of Studies in International Education, 17 (2), 103-118.
  6. Leask, B. & Bridge, C. (2013). Comparing internationalisation of the curriculum in action across disciplines: theoretical and practical perspectives. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education, 43(1), 79-101.
  7. Lee, A. & Poynton, C. (Eds.) (2000). Culture and text: discourse and methodology in social science research and cultural studies, St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
  8. Riessman, C.K. (2008). Narrative methods for the human sciences. California & London: Sage Publications.
  9. Sanderson, G. (2008). A Foundation for the Internationalisation of the Academic Self. Journal of Studies in International Education, 12(3), 276-307.