Exploring the Internationalisation of the Curriculum in Social Science in Case Studies from Aotearoa New Zealand and Egypt: A Southern theory perspective
This thesis explored what afforded and constrained internationalising the curricula of regular courses in the social sciences. To date, there is a dearth of studies which investigate the incorporation of international and intercultural, and global learning opportunities into the existing curricula of the academic disciplines despite the mounting universities’ claims about internationalising curricula and student experiences. The possibility of offering such internationalised learning opportunities is contested within the social sciences. Contemporary sociologists depict the social sciences as Euro-American centric and culturally exclusionary. In contrast, the internationalisation of the curriculum scholars represent the social sciences as conducive to context-based constructions of social reality and social experience.
To tease out the capacity of existing social science curricula for engaging with international and intercultural, and global learning opportunities, case studies were conducted at a public research-intensive university in Aotearoa New Zealand and a private American liberal arts university in Egypt. The case studies centred on four social science courses, two in each university. Data sources included interviews with academic staff members (n=7), students (n=16), and international office coordinators (n=3), observations of lectures and tutorials, and key national, institutional, and degree policies, and course documentation. Data were analysed using thematic analysis combining inductive and deductive reasoning to generate both explanatory and critical analyses. Southern theory, a strand of critical theory, informed the theoretical approach taken to interpreting findings.
The findings of this research demonstrated a dynamic co-existence between constraints and affordances in engaging curricula with internationalised learning opportunities. Constraints manifested in the predominance of Euro-American content knowledge in the syllabi of the four courses. Affordances emerged in the open-ended pedagogical activities of teaching, learning, and assessment which made space for situated experiences of the local and the global. Most importantly, academics’ and students’ negotiations of the curriculum generated fresh syntheses of these different knowledge and experience resources.
The findings of this research pose implications for the practice of the internationalisation of the curriculum in the social sciences. Established Euro-American centricity of the course syllabi calls on curriculum designers (e.g., academics, students) for a critical interrogation of privileged and marginalised perspectives, paradigms, and scholarship in the internationalisation of social science curricula. Furthermore, the local and global social experiences academics and students drew on in their negotiations of knowledge and pedagogy warrant the curriculum designers’ attention to the potential contribution of these experience resources to a situated and reflexive practice of the internationalisation of the curriculum.