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International Higher Educationís Scholar-Practitioners: Bridging Research and Practice

reviewed by Gerardo Blanco-Ramirez - April 21, 2017

coverTitle: International Higher Educationís Scholar-Practitioners: Bridging Research and Practice
Author(s): Bernhard Streitwieser & Anthony C. Ogden (Eds.)
Publisher: Symposium Books, Oxford
ISBN: 1873927770, Pages: 2016, Year: 340
Search for book at Amazon.com

Hyphens are paradoxical symbols. They denote either connection or separation between terms or names. A similar sense of ambiguity characterizes the intersection between scholar roles and practitioner roles in international higher education. Bernhard Streitwieser and Anthony C. Ogden’s edited collection International Higher Education’s Scholar-Practitioners: Bridging Research and Practice is an insightful volume of great interest for both practitioners and scholars of international higher education. As Hans de Wit explains in the preface and builds upon with his personal experiences on both sides of the hyphen, scholarly work often leads to practice and practice invites reflection that often results in scholarly work. Therefore, it is appropriate to discuss the development of international higher education in dialogue with both of these perspectives.  

In the introduction and in Chapter One, Streitwieser and Ogden set the stage for the following idea. At the center of their argument is the concept that international higher education is both a field of study and a profession with the field overlapping with the profession. The volume’s structure reflects this idea. They present a definition and a model for international higher education scholar-practitioners by building upon a solid theoretical foundation, but it is grounded in practice and reflection. In Chapter Two, John K. Hudzik argues that scholar and practitioner roles overlay and relate to the type of scholarship these scholar-practitioners pursue. He highlights the example of “[u]se-inspired scholarship” (p. 41) as an illustration of this concept. The author concludes with a series of proposals that are aimed at graduate programs, professional associations, and journals to provide further opportunities for scholar-practitioners of international higher education to contribute to the field and profession. These recommendations are both insightful and practical. One might add the need for academic organizations, including the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) and the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), to more intentionally engage scholar-practitioners.

Two historical analyses are presented in Chapter Three and Chapter Four. John D. Heyl focuses on the development of the scholar-practitioner identity while David Comp focuses on international education scholarship. In Chapter Five, Donna Scarboro introduces a sharp analysis of the tensions between administrative and scholarly roles in the context of international higher education. She is critical of “accidental tourists” (p. 95) who become internationalization managers overnight. While appreciative of the contribution of scholarship, the author recognizes its limits and highlights the complexity of campus internationalization. Scarboro states that, “no one owns it; everyone owns it. It is a core value because of the nature of the world in which the university sits” (p. 97).

In Chapter Six, Giselda Beaudin and Louis Berends focus on Education Abroad Scholar-Practitioners. They argue that they operate in the liminal space among and beyond disciplines. With a focus on Education Abroad Scholar-Practitioners, Brian Whalen discusses the importance of best practices in Chapter Ten. Paying attention to a different professional group, namely International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS), David B. Austell (Chapter Seven) explains that research is not a priority in their multitasked professional world. While many ISSS practitioners may want to conduct scholarship, their responsibilities involve federal immigration regulations and present important challenges. Some of the barriers to the development of scholar-practitioners are strongly felt in single individual offices. In Chapter Eight, Mandy Reinig explores the increased demands placed on small international education offices. As we can see from these professional perspectives, conducting research is neither rewarded nor acknowledged as a part of the responsibilities for many practitioners.  

Community colleges are rarely considered in discussions about the internationalization of higher education. For this reason, Rosalind Latiner Raby’s Chapter Nine makes a significant contribution to this edited volume. She argues that community colleges are perceived as being practitioner-oriented spaces, which creates challenges for those who wish to conduct research. This chapter highlights the significance of including a diversity of professional and institutional perspectives when studying internationalization. Bruce La Brack also takes an institutional perspective in Chapter Eleven when he examines integrated orientation and re-entry courses.

In Chapter Twelve, Elizabeth Brewer reflects on her professional experiences to analyze the emergence of the concept of international scholar-practitioners. She explains that not long ago most of these professionals came into the field by chance. Richard Slimbach (Chapter Thirteen) discusses a new paradigm in international education that shifts these international experiences beyond a commoditized educational product. He is also focused on the preparation of international education scholar-practitioners. Continuing this focus on paradigmatic shifts, Michael Woolf analyzes “conservative dynamics” (p. 211) in Chapter Fourteen. These shifts result from the frantic pace of campus internationalization that makes professionals react rather than plan. The author argues that research would help these individuals plan better. This argument makes a compelling case for the practical importance of research and scholarship rather than presenting scholarship as an arcane or impractical activity.

In Chapter Fifteen, Gregory Light further explores the barriers for scholar-practitioners in conducting scholarship. He argues that, “the stimulus for change must come from the field and its practitioners” (p. 231). Jane Edwards (Chapter Sixteen) presents a convincing case for scholarship as a way to respond to a changing environment where she argues for multidisciplinary inquiry. Darla K. Deardorff argues that it is essential for people in this field to be scholar-practitioners in Chapter Seventeen. She adds that people working in this discipline should know and be able to apply theory to practical work in higher education. The author also identifies some of the most important theories that scholar-practitioners of international higher education should be conversant with. In Chapter Eighteen, Taylor C. Woodman and Katherine N. Punteney explore the more than 80 graduate programs in the U.S. aimed at preparing scholar-practitioners for international higher education.

Tamar Breslauer presents an intriguing perspective on scholar-practitioners of international higher education in Chapter Nineteen. Employed as a librarian, the author focuses on how scholarly information is organized or accessed in the field of international higher education and how to evaluate information from the literature. This is an important contribution that advances the discussion on, and for, scholar-practitioners. Breslauer argues that finding research in this field requires multiple lenses because of the multidisciplinary nature of the work. An important contribution of her chapter is the notion of the five lenses scholar-practitioners could use to find literature related to their work in international higher education. These are professional, multidisciplinary, disciplinary, specialized, and scanning lenses. Also significant is Breslauer’s discussion on how to evaluate sources.

In Chapter Twenty, Fiona Hunter and Laura E. Rumbley take stock of the tremendous growth of international higher education. They argue that there is “a new space” (p. 301) occupied by scholar-practitioners. The authors note that there are some methodological and practical challenges of doing applied research in one's own field or at one's home institution. An important takeaway from the book is Hunter and Rumbley’s invitation for scholar-practitioners to be dispassionate and open minded while making the lessons derived from their research useful outside of their specific context.

After the final chapter, readers encounter a very enjoyable encore. Short biographical notes document the professional pathways of the scholar-practitioners who contributed to the volume. This is indeed a valuable contribution. Streitwieser and Ogden’s edited volume International Higher Education’s Scholar-Practitioners is full of interesting insights and candid reflections about the challenges in attempting to integrate two roles that are occasionally in conflict. Many of the chapters speak in unison about the need for scholarly activities to occupy a more central role in the lives of busy practitioners. Readers may want to learn more than what each of the short chapters provides. However, this is a good problem to have. The book must be seen as an invitation for more dialogue and new conversations that transcend its limits. This edited volume is required reading for anyone contemplating the prospect of pursuing a career in international higher education. For those of us already immersed in this field and profession, the text is an invaluable reminder regarding the importance of taking a pause to reflect upon our scholarly practice and to find inspiration when conducting practice-oriented scholarship.

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: April 21, 2017
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 21935, Date Accessed: 5/19/2022 8:10:46 AM

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About the Author
  • Gerardo Blanco-Ramirez
    University of Massachusetts Boston
    E-mail Author
    GERARDO BLANCO RAMIREZ is assistant professor of Higher Education at the University of Massachusetts Boston. His research focuses on the comparative study of quality assurance practices in higher education. Gerardo has taught, advised, consulted and researched higher education institutions in Bangladesh, Canada, China, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Germany and Mexico.
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