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Engaging the disciplines in internationalising the curriculum

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Abstract:

The claim by universities to be 'international' has spread world-wide over the last two decades and this has been largely interpreted to mean the recruitment and support of international students. Little attention has been paid to what this means for curriculum development. This study was carried out to explore disciplinary understandings of the concept of internationalisation of the curriculum (IoC) and ways academics might be encouraged to engage with the discourse. Staff at all campuses of an Australian university, including campuses in Malaysia and South Africa, were interviewed about their views on internationalising the curriculum. The interview tapes were transcribed and the scripts analysed using Becher's categorisation of the disciplines to explore disciplinary differences in the discourses. The learning communities of the 'hard pure' disciplines were found to be resistant to engaging in the discourse of internationalisation, while all other discipline areas recognised the effects of the contextualisation of knowledge and the need to consider the future multi-cultural work environments of their students. The possible reasons for the resistance of the hard pure discipline group are explored and ways to facilitate their engagement in the discourse. La revendication par les universites qu'elles sont devenues « internationales » s'est repandue globalement depuis deux decennies. Ceci a generalement ete assimile au recrutement d'etudiants etrangers et a leur soutien. Les implications de ce phenomene pour le developpement des cursus n'ont pas ete etudiees en profondeur. Cette recherche a ete entreprise en vue d'explorer le sens donne par les disciplines au concept d'internationalisation des cursus, et comment les universitaires peuvent etre encourages a s'approprier le discours. Des entretiens ont ete effectues avec les membres du personnel de tous les campus d'une universite australienne, y compris les campus situes en Malaisie et en Afrique du Sud, au sujet de leur vision de l'internationalisation des cursus. Les enregistrements transcrits ont ete analyses a l'aide de la categorisation des disciplines de Becher de facon a explorer les differences disciplinaires au niveau du discours. Les communautes apprenantes provenant des disciplines « pures et dures » semblaient etre resistantes a s'approprier le discours de l'internationalisation, tandis que les autres domaines disciplinaires semblaient reconnaitre les effets de la contextualisation sur le savoir et la necessite de prendre en consideration les environnements professionnels multiculturels futurs de leurs etudiants. Les raisons possibles de la resistance observee au sein du regroupement disciplinaire « pur et dur » sont presentees, ainsi que des facons de faciliter leur appropriation du discours.

Keywords: academic disciplines; curriculum; internationalisation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13601440902970122

Affiliations: Oxford Brookes University, United Kingdom

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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