Universities and Internationalization

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In preparing some advance press for a news item, I was interviewing a faculty member about her Fulbright experience earlier this week and it brought us around to a wider discussion about students and faculty going abroad. Our university and Franklin College very much encourage international experiences and collaborations. The art exhibition that was the focus of my interview offers a case in point of the benefits therein: an international, collaborative project, facilitated by an existing and very successful mechanism (the Fulbright Scholarship Program), which the faculty member will then propel forward by encouraging colleagues and students to apply.

But it is important to remember that there are other points of view about internationalization, as elaborated in this post in the Chronicle:

But the view in the United States is very different. Some international higher-education consultants avoid working for American universities altogether, in the belief that U.S. universities aren’t serious about internationalization, with miniscule budgets and no one on the senior-leadership teams who represents the global perspective. In this view, the “beginning of internationalization” would be a more appropriate topic at many U.S. institutions, where internationalization is often mentioned but frequently not practiced.

Amid all of this discussion, the opinion that internationalization may be unwise altogether is rarely voiced. So here is a devil’s-advocate view on internationalization, offered up tongue-in-cheek. In particular, here are four reasons for an institution not to internationalize:

Internationalization eats up resources, including time and money. At some point in meaningful internationalization, video conferences and phone calls don’t work anymore, and face-to-face meetings become essential. On overseas trips, academics don’t just lose the time when they are away from their jobs on the home campus. 

Like the writer, I'm not necessarily in agreement with these points but also believe that ideas are sharpened with opposition - a point itself that cannot be reiterated enough. 

For more information about the many international programs in the Franklin College, please visit.

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