Internationalising the Curriculum in a UK University: Beliefs and Practices of Academics

Zhong, Weici (2022) Internationalising the Curriculum in a UK University: Beliefs and Practices of Academics. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Whilst internationalisation of research and recruitment has become an important strategy for many UK universities, internationalisation of the curriculum has often been less prioritised. Despite the public statements that universities make about how international or internationalised they are, how exactly internationalisation of the curriculum is implemented in institutions and classrooms often remains unclear. Sometimes this tends to be narrowly understood as developing appropriate teaching approaches for international students.

My thesis examines how internationalisation of the curriculum is being implemented in a UK university from the perspectives of academics across a range of disciplines/subjects. An ethnographic-style case study approach was adopted to explore how twenty-six academics from eight departments (including Mathematics, Environmental Sciences, Education, Business, International Development, Languages, Politics, and Literature) engage with internationalisation of the curriculum – including how they interpret and implement it in practice. Participant observation, semi-structured interview and documentary analysis were the main data collection instruments. Drawing on Street’s (1993) notion of ‘culture as a verb’ and Holliday’s (1999, 2011) notions of ‘small cultures’, ‘cultural realities’ and ‘cultural arenas’, I explore how the social contexts in which academics work and teach shape their understandings and practices of internationalising the curriculum.

My study reveals that academics take different approaches to internationalising the curriculum: from a ‘symbolic’ approach (adding diverse cultural perspectives and practices to the curriculum) to a ‘transformative’ approach (aiming to dismantle the domination of the Eurocentric canon and treating global perspectives and epistemologies as the central tenets of the curriculum). Findings suggest that discipline/subject is not the only factor affecting how academics engage with internationalisation of the curriculum. Individual understandings and practices are shaped by how they see the world and different country experiences, what they understand to be the purpose of university education, how they see their discipline/subject, their approach to teaching, and how they perceive knowledge hierarchies in the academy.

Amid the rising calls for decolonising the curriculum in the UK higher education sector, the findings of my study are particularly timely and have implications for universities’ future strategies. Contributing new insights into the meanings of and approaches to internationalising the curriculum, my thesis challenges the market discourses on internationalisation currently permeating UK higher education. It encourages university leaders to listen to the voices of academic staff and students when developing strategies for internationalising their university.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Education and Lifelong Learning
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 22 May 2023 11:15
Last Modified: 22 May 2023 11:15


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