The world has faced a series of changes, adjustments, and transformations along the historical, religious technological, economic and political among many other facets. The advent of technology, for instance, catalyzed the emergence of industrialization and after that globalization, a phenomenon that necessitated for the drastic changes in culture, believes, customs and traditions. Globalization brought along a number of great things but similarly acted as a reinforcement for social, economic and political issues like inequality. Cultural differences are among the various barriers that have significantly impacted on the effects of the globalization of the world, and it is, therefore, through the toning of these differences can equality in development be achieved (Clifford & Montgomery, 2015). Education has thus been viewed as a tool that would help bridge the cultural and social gaps that have been vastly created by the merging of different countries, states, and continents. This brings forth the concept of the internationalization of the curriculum, more so in higher education, as this would eliminate the minute yet significant barriers that hinder the achievement of global harmony. The internationalization of curriculum in higher education is a movement that seeks to eliminate the inequalities in the content, access, and quality of education in different countries, and hence offer an equal chance for development and change in the nations, and in the world at large. This paper, therefore, takes a keen critical review on the concept of the internationalization of the curriculum as a tool used to eliminate inequalities in education, and explores the different parameters that surround its implementation.
Approaches to Internationalization of Curriculum
The internationalization of curriculum, often viewed as global education, like various global projects, is subject to different views and approaches with some adopting the neoliberal approach which presents global education as a bridge towards international success. The second one is the radical approach which opposes globalization and reinforces national and local institutions, and last but not least the transformative approach that views globalization as a tool for change. For a world that is in dire need of the eradication of biases and inequality, the transformative approach suits best when it comes to global education. Transformative education, therefore, seeks to promote the development and readjustments of an individual, as a path towards change in the society at large (Clifford & Montgomery, 2015). The concept of the globalization or rather the internationalization of curriculum (IoC) in higher education has been dominating the mouths and minds of many, but few have been able to understand what it means efficiently, and calls for. With the differences in culture being the major stumbling block for the implementation of this much thought idea, Clifford and Montgomery first presented the personal and sociocultural readiness of the students and teachers as a critical factor in the achievement of global education (2015). The transformative global education calls for a transformative student, one who is aware of their social and cultural circumstances, coupled up with their attitudes and how these can work for or against them. The emancipated leaners are as well critical in transformative education as they continuously question their traditions and hence are open for new ideas. It is this form of self-awareness and paranoia that soon spurs up the urge to change what can be changed, and adapt to what cannot.
Parameters in Internationalization of Curriculum
The students and the teachers are a critical part of the transformative education and hence a crucial parameter when it comes to the internationalization of the curriculum. A transformative student is described as one who considers themselves global citizens, are firmly against inequality and injustice, understand the different aspects of the worldwide community, and one who is willing to adopt ways that will change the world into a better place. Clifford and Montgomery hence make these two parties a center stage for their discussion, emphasizing on the importance of the relationship between the teacher and the student (Clifford & Montgomery, 2015). A relationship built on trust, support and friendship are critical in the implementation of the IoC, as this is a tough journey that requires a lot of risk taking and decision making. The teachers should similarly be able to take risks, question their works, attitudes, and norms. The transformative education seeks to empower the student as the agent of change, and this, to many, meant that the students constantly question their curriculum, as well as decide on what they should or shouldn't be leaned, as well as the assessment of the content. A study conducted by the two authors revealed the need for both the structural and cultural changes, which narrows down to the change in the individuals within the education system, as well as the system itself. This similarly calls for the need to challenge the old paradigms and knowledge, and while at it, create new ones. The changes, therefore, must appear at the institution level, the program level, and the pedagogical level to address both the system and those operating within and under it. The student-teacher relationship is emphasized in all these, and therefore, a change in the relationship in cases where it is unyielding is a necessity.
The internationalization of curriculum is an issue that is today considered a crucial aspect in the education of students in various parts of the world, and it stands out as a tool that if utilized well can bridge the gap of inequality around the world. The two authors have done excellent work for analyzing the issues surrounding its implementation as a transformative form of education. Cultural differences are the most significant barrier for this implementation, and the two have successfully explored the issue, pointing out the importance of addressing it from the institutional level down to the pedagogical as well as the participants of the program that is the teachers and the parents. The study has also considered the opposing views of the individuals the program targets, highlighting the different aspects of the political environments surrounding the education systems versus the desire to liberalize education. Global education can be incorporated in the education systems around the inclusively, exclusively and transformative, and the authors, through their research were able to bring the three responses out. Global inequality comes majorly via the economic facet, and therefore, by failing to incorporate the financial aspect of the internationalization of the curriculum, the conclusion met by Clifford and Montgomery is far from conclusive. This is because all the factors mentioned, that is the change in cultural and structural routines, the shift in attitude and the enhancement of the teacher-student relationship among others might be as critical in the implementation of the internationalized curriculum, but without the resources, funds, and infrastructure, the third world, as well as the developing countries, will consistently drown in their misery.
Clifford V. & Montgomery C. (2015). Transformative learning through internationalization of the curriculum in higher education. Journal of transformative education. 13(1). Pp. 46-64. DOI: 10.1177/1541344614560909
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