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The Process of Collaborating

December 30, 1899


​Internationalization and diversity efforts share broad values, pedagogical practices, and several learning outcomes. They are also both promulgated as interdisciplinary in nature. Working within the intersecting space between these 2 fields, however, may not seem like a natural collaboration at many institutions. The process of bringing multiple units, departments, or programmatic foci together takes work and requires an intentional, strategic, and thoughtful approach.

  • Damon Williams: Meaningful Collaboration and the Process for Achieving It

    Damon Williams: Meaningful Collaboration and the Process for Achieving It

Benefits of Working at the Intersection of Internationalization and Diversity

Working at the intersection of internationalization and diversity/multicultural education provides creative opportunities for faculty, staff, and administrators to:

  • Help students understand multiculturalism and social justice in a global context
  • Develop intercultural skills
  • Broaden attitudes to appreciate the complexity of the world
  • Examine values, attitudes, and responsibilities for local/global citizenship
  • Disrupt silence and make visible hidden issues not explicit in networks of relationships
  • See how power and privilege are shifting in the local/global context
  • Experience conflicts and develop skills to work together

Challenges to Working at the Intersection of Internationalization and Diversity

When embarking upon work within the shared space between internationalization and diversity, it is critical to be mindful of the unique histories, academic and administrative structures, and motivations of participants that both areas retain.

  • Damon Williams: Challenges and Benefits of This Work

    Damon Williams: Challenges and Benefits of This Work

There are several ways in which these fields of practice differ, which can lead to tensions and challenges to collaboration.

  • Diverging Histories—Multicultural education developed from the need for colleges and universities to address the growing presence and significance of racial, ethnic, and other types of cultural diversity within the United States, while internationalization sprang from the growing interrelatedness of peoples around the world.
  • Diverging Structures—Internationalization and diversity are rarely treated as core institutional concerns. Instead, they are often viewed as the responsibility of 1 or 2 specific individuals or offices. Frequently at institutions without designated offices or individuals responsible for internationalization and diversity efforts, leadership of these initiatives is fragmented and resides in individual programs or departments, which may even be in competition with each other for resources. There may also be a disconnect between the co-curricular academic programs related to these 2 fields, which may cause them to operate in isolation from one another.
  • Diverging Objectives or Motivations—Speaking generally, multicultural educators are often driven by a desire to reshape society, right historical wrongs, and give a voice to the underprivileged. Alternatively, those teaching, studying, or engaged in international education are often driven by a desire to gain exposure to and understanding of other cultures.

Through mutual respect and understanding, the differences between the 2 fields and areas of practice do not need to be barriers to collaboration. Rather, challenges can be overcome by scholarly and respectful dialogue and discourse. Collaborators can focus on the significant common ground between internationalization and multicultural education, as well as the potential that working together has on positively impacting student learning.

  • Yolanda Moses: Reframe the Dialogue Histories of These Initiatives

    Yolanda Moses: Reframe the Dialogue Histories of These Initiatives

  • Gwenn Bookman: Campus Engagement, Win-Win Situation, Student Learning

    Gwenn Bookman: Campus Engagement, Win-Win Situation, Student Learning

Common Ground

Internationalization and diversity/multicultural education have a number of aspects in common.

  • Shared values—Both areas seek to promote similar values such as understanding and valuing the significance of human diversity (Cortes, 1998 as cited in Olson et al. 2007) and have a strong desire to transform institutions and society (Olson et al. 2007).
  • Shared nature of the work—Both multicultural education and internationalization have evolved as interdisciplinary areas; require their champions to traverse functional or administrative boundaries to interact with people in other units across the institution; and feature experiential learning as a critical pedagogy.
  • Shared learning outcomes—The knowledge, attitudes, and skills that students may acquire as a result of learning experiences in multicultural and international education have a significant degree of overlap. Review our Student Learning Outcomes exercise (PDF).
  • Yolanda Moses: Student Learning as a Key Leverage Point

    Yolanda Moses: Student Learning as a Key Leverage Point

Next Section: Engaging the Campus

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