Using a University Network to Advance Internationalization of the Curriculum
Universities around the world are increasingly adopting internationalization strategies, which call attention to intentionality in using the curriculum and strategic regional networks as ways to achieve university agendas. Internationalization of the curriculum (IoC) endeavors are typically led by a select group of individuals within a single university, and often struggle to gain diverse wide-spread support within the university community (Leask, 2013). However, university networks, which demand interconnectivity, have been argued to “constitute the core of internationalisation,” and present varied academic opportunities for engagement that expand channels of information sharing and knowledge creation (de Wit & Callan, 1995, p.89). Therefore, university networks have unexplored potential in providing unique learning opportunities for member institutions’ faculty and staff in internationalizing their curricula, while advancing their institution’s internationalization agenda. Through a framework of network theories, professional learning theory, and an internationalization of the curriculum conceptual framework, this study investigated faculty and staff engagement with one network, and how their engagement has influenced conceptualizations of internationalization of the curriculum. Drawing from semi-structured interviews with fourteen members of faculty and staff from two of five universities in a European university network, the results demonstrate that this network supports faculty and staff in contextualizing and conceptualizing internationalization. The analysis points to the differences in conceptualizations of IoC, depending on the level of faculty and staff engagement with the network. The diverse representation of faculty and staff at network events created significant interactions where individuals were able to validate and share their experiences and expertise related to internationalizing curriculum, as well as critically examine their own approaches and university policies. Faculty and staff engagement with the network resulted in mature conceptualizations of internationalizing curriculum, and contributed to a greater adaptability to working in changing, intercultural environments. The study suggests that engagement in this network is conducive to the internationalization of one’s academic Self, and to fostering a greater sense of regional camaraderie (Sanderson, 2008). Finally, the results of this study demonstrate one university network’s ability to engage an increasing mass of reflective faculty and staff that are aware of internationalization and its implications for their learning environments. The contributions of this study are significant for university leaders, scholars, and practitioners, and especially those working in the nuanced intersection of internationalizing curricula and university networks.