Dreaming about internationalizing the curriculum: Who? What? And

Dreaming about
the curriculum:
Who? What? And
Fred Dervin
Department of Teacher
Education, HIS, University of
Helsinki, Finland
• “We cannot repeat too often that it is not by
preaching love of our neighbor that we can
achieve it…” (Bergson, 1932)
• “The gulf between the real diversity of the
world and the artificial and often imaginary
diversity of our social experiments is very
large” (Wood, 2003)
Internationalization + curriculum
• Who?
• What?
• How?
• Renewed notion of the ‘intercultural’
My understanding of curriculum
• The total learning experience provided by an
– content of courses,
– methods employed,
– norms and values
• Attempt at covering all these aspects?
• Emphasis on norms and values
• ‘Us’
• ‘Them’
• Us-Them within and
outside institutions
• Society at large
• Transdisciplinarity
(civic + corporate)
• Internationalization at home must not be a new
way of segregating, reproducing and privileging
• Not creating the ‘international’ for us!
• All
• Reciprocal
• What we teach-learn and how we behave
towards self-other
Towards the ‘anthrophagic’
• Anthropoemic strategies (bulimic) “vomit out the
deviant, keeping them outside of society or
enclosing them in special institutions within their
• Anthropophagic strategies (cannibalistic): “deal
with strangers and deviants by swallowing them
up, by making them (their) own and by gaining
strength from them”
• Claude Levi-Strauss (1955)
Towards the ‘anthrophagic’
• Anthropoemic strategies (bulimic) “vomit out the
deviant, keeping them outside of society or
enclosing them in special institutions within their
• Anthropophagic strategies (cannibalistic): “deal
with strangers and deviants by swallowing them
up, by making them (their) own and by gaining
strength from them”
• Claude Levi-Strauss (1955)
What? Values and norms
• Internationalization is not just about figures and numbers!
(number of foreign students, number of courses in English,
rankings, etc.)
• for the ‘locals’ (staff, admin, students)
– Honest and realistic end of ‘disguised’ methodological
– Welcoming ‘others’, allowing others to enter (f2f or online or
both) – ‘not commodities’
– Treating them fairly; giving them an extra boost (Positive
– Considering them as resources
• For the ‘guests’
– Idem + Motivating them to learn how to navigate certain
• Question misnomers:
– Interculturality, integrate, diversity, ‘home’, etc.
• Deconstruct and reconstruct objectives:
– Do not promise too much! (‘know thyself’,
‘respect all cultures’, ‘achieve tolerance’…)
• Avoid (new) hierarchies:
– Boaventura de Souza Santo’ s metaphor of abyssal
lines (2007)
• Avoid creating heterotopias
• Professional development for all
• Systematic inclusion of discussions around the
notion of internationalization and e.g. the
intercultural in terms of values and norms
• Reflexivity, coherence and progression (course
contents, methods)
• Ensure quality
But reality is often the guest of a
name… we imagine…
• Inter – cultural?
– Polysemic/empty
– Ready-made assumptions
– Lack of criticality (BBD)
– Lack of interdisciplinarity
A dream… in terms of what we learn,
do and how we treat each other
Beyond BBD (Byram, Bennett, Deardorff)
Beyond programmatic skills-recipes
Beyond simple progression (stages)
Beyond mere knowledge (“culture”)
Beyond individuality (co-construction)
Beyond assessment-’proof’
• Beyond hostipitality
• Beyond culture and solid origins
• Beyond solidification
• A proposal
Beyond Hos(ti)pitality
• Hospitality can easily turn into hostipitality
– Hostility! (Derrida)
– Power imbalance between the host and the guest
– Politics of insider/outsider
– Host = Hostage?
– Inclusion in negotiating content, methods, values,
norms, etc.?
Copyright Fred Dervin 2014
• “Handling issues with Finns, however is usually
very easy; when a Finn promises to take care of
something, consider it done. According to our
values, people are expected to deliver what they
have promised and this also applies to all the
professors, teachers and other staff members”.
• “Whereas in many cultures people are supposed
to follow instructions of teachers and supervisors,
Finns are encouraged to solve problems
independently and take initiative when needed.
Thus while young people in many cultures live in
a very protected and supervised life, students in
Finland are very independent and take
responsibility for their studies. This is another
area where foreign students also get easily
confused”. (234)
Beyond culture, beyond terra firma
• “Culture is what one sees with, but seldom what
one sees” (Holland & Quinn, 1987: 14)
• Hoskins and Sallah (2011, p. 114): “simplistic
focus on culture hides unequal power relations,
including poverty, violence, structural inequalities
such as racism and the possibilities of multiple
• “the description of culture is ideological, and
the (…) claim to scientific neutrality and
objectivity comprise a naive denial of
(Holliday, 2011: 39)
Problems when comparing cultures
• Explicit/implicit moralistic judgments
• Better and worse, more civilized
• Hierarchies – politics of the closed door
• Patronizing
• Unjustified ethnocentrism – “racism without races” (ex.
of the Chinese)
• Ways of establishing power relations
• Justifying negative actions (attacks against freedom of
speech, violation of human rights, misogyny, etc. )
Beyond solidification
Origins = ??
Who is in? Who is out?
Who decides?
Culture, race, language, ethnicity, gender, social
class, psychological characteristics…
• People are neither robots nor static entities
• Let people choose and negotiate!
• And…
• I filmed a session where my drama tutor
colleagues were (as they saw it) facilitating a
process through which children could embrace
and feel good about their ethnic identity. Children
were asked “we sometimes identify ourselves as
white or black or Asian or mixed – how would
you identify yourself?” Our boy mumbles his
answer. ‘Ah, dark skinned person!’, says the
drama tutor. ‘No, a DANCING person!’ exclaims
the boy.
• The lecturer asked him to demonstrate how Japanese
people greet each other. Atsushi lifted his hand,
wiggled his fingers, and said “hello”. Not satisfied, the
lecturer insisted : “No, I mean how do you greet
people in a formal situation ?” Atsushi shrugged and
repeated that this was how he greeted people. Getting
annoyed, the lecturer-who was of course expecting
Atsushi to perform a bow-said “Okay then, how would
you greet the Emperor?” Atsushi, feeling harassed,
responded that he would prefer not to meet the
emperor. Finally the lecturer was obliged to performed
the bow herself, but Atsushi felt stereotyped and kept
complaining about the incident for weeks.
Who is diverse?
What is diversity?
Who decides?
• Towards critical, reciprocal and negotiated
(generous) hospitality
1. Diversity > Diverse diversities
Cater for Simplexity…
“Each of us involves identities of various kinds in
disparate contexts. The same person can be of
Indian origin, a Parsee, a French citizen, a US
resident, a woman, a poet, a vegetarian, an
anthropologist, a university professor, a Christian, a
bird watcher, and an avid believer in extra-terrestrial
life and of the propensity of alien creatures to ride
around the cosmos in multicoloured UFOs. Each of
these collectivities, to all of which this person
belongs, gives him or her a particular identity. They
can all have relevance, depending on the context”.
(Sen, 2005: 350)
2. Emphasize SIMILARITY too
• Obsession with difference
• Bias?
• “Upon meeting others and during interactions
with them, first ask: what is it that I have in
common with these other people?”
(Modagham, 2010)
• More inter-!
• Inter - cultural
3. Limit and make aware of power
differentials – provide tools
• Lakoff (1990: 17) “our every interaction is political, whether
we intent it to be or not; everything we do in the course of a
day communicates our relative power, our desire for a
particular sort of connection, our identification of the other
as one who needs something from us, or vice versa. Often,
perhaps usually, we are unaware of these choices; we don’t
realize that we are playing for high stakes even in the
smallest of small talk”.
Native vs. non-native
Local vs. non local
Social position, origins
‘Real’ internationalization at home?
• Holliday (2010: 27)
• “the aim must be to put aside established
descriptions, seek a broader picture and look
for the hidden and the unexpressed”.
• Simplexity
• Similarity
• Consciousness of power/injustice
• Success-failure
• Right to emotions, to discuss ‘freely’
• Identity
• Work on multifaceted representation
• Understanding the process of otherisation of self-other
• “Education should consist in giving the power to
become aware of, recognize, push through and
present/defend one’s multiple identities, and to
negotiate them in a ‘satisfactory’ manner with
and for our interlocutors” (Dervin, 2013)
• Internationalization = recognition, acceptance
and re-de-negotiation of heterogeneity
• “Who am we?”
• Contents, methods and values/norms
• Key objective to real internationalization?
Fred Dervin
Department of Teacher
Education, HIS, University of
Helsinki, Finland
[email protected]

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