Promoting Inclusion in Education Abroad
reviewed by Peggy Shannon-Baker - December 14, 2018
Title: Promoting Inclusion in Education Abroad
Author(s): Heather Barclay Hamir & Nick J. Gozik (Eds.)
Publisher: Stylus Publishing, Sterling, VA
ISBN: 1620365561, Pages: 248, Year: 2018
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International education programs are considered a high impact practice for students in schools in the USA (Kuh, 2008). These programs are generally used to increase students appreciation for diversity, awareness of global issues, and cross-cultural skills, particularly for pre-service teachers (Marx & Moss, 2011; Sharma, et al., 2012). However, white female students still make up the majority of students participating in international programs, including term-length programs abroad and short-term programs led by faculty (Institute of International Education, 2018). The purpose of this book, edited by Heather Barclay Hamir and Nick Gozik, is to identify both the challenges faced by underrepresented students in accessing international programs and the practices that can address these challenges. The overall readability of the book reflects the editors intent for it to be used by practitioners and scholars alike (p. 4). These practitioners include international education staff, community partners, and those who design and coordinate programs abroad.
Hamir and Gozik use a framework of inclusion to reaffirm the foundational importance of diversity in higher education (p. 10). The book is based on the premise that higher education should provide equitable access to learning opportunities, and that inequitable access to international programs (and the learning and experiences that come with them) may reproduce inequities within higher education. The underrepresented groups addressed in this book include racial minorities, first-generation college attendees, men, community college students, STEM majors, students with disabilities, and students who are undocumented.
The book is organized into three major sections. Part One sets out the editors intentions and describes how they sought to have chapters describe inclusive practices. Included in this section is Chapter Two, which presents a broad review of the historical representations of students in international education programs. Part Two includes chapters primarily devoted to a single group or identity that is underrepresented. These chapters primarily come from higher education staff who work in international education offices, though there are some who hold faculty appointments or work for institutions outside of higher education. Some chapters are based on the perspectives of students who participated in international programs, or were unable to (Chapters Three and Five), whereas others are based on the authors professional expertise supporting students (Chapters Six, Seven, and Ten) or focus on sharing an example program that worked specifically with underrepresented students (Chapters Four, Eight, and Nine). Part Three includes two concluding chapters intended to summarize the book and identify practices for improving underrepresented students access to international programs. The book also includes a foreword from Esther Brimmer, the Executive Director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, one of the co-publishers of the book.
Although each chapter seems to focus on singular identities, a few chapters did mention how students experiences with accessing international programs were more complex and varied because of their intersectional identities. For example, in the chapter on first-generation college students by Michelle Tolan and Margaret McCullers, the authors conclude that the cost of international programs is not the only barrier these students face. They argue that many first-generation students also have familial responsibilities, cultural differences, work hours, and often regimented major requirements, and that multipronged approaches may be needed in order to support them (p. 79). James Lucas, in his chapter on male students, identifies that gender roles and racial differences may play an important role in looking at the relationship between gender and participation rates in international education. More intersectional analyses are needed in order to understand students decisions to study abroad and their experiences in these programs. As Rosalind Latiner Raby and Gary M. Rhodes demonstrate in their chapter on community college students, increasing the accessibility of these programs ultimately requires an in-depth and nuanced understanding of the students one wishes to recruit.
Hamir and Gozik provide a strong concluding chapter that highlights some key strategies for providing more equitable access to these programs. One strategy named in a number of chapters was demonstrating the value of international programs. This could include initiating differentiated and targeted recruitment efforts that identify the needs and values that speak directly to the students one is trying to recruit. For example, stressing that these programs provide cross-cultural skill development is not as relevant to students from marginalized communities who may have cross-cultural experiences daily. Additionally, program designers need to survey international sites and activities in advance for any accessibility issues in order to be inclusive of students with physical disabilities. This concluding chapter also identifies several areas for further research, including the need for more nuanced data beyond a gender binary and for disaggregated data related to race and ethnicity. Hamir and Gozik also suggest several institution-level changes to support this work, such as making international program leadership experience a recognized element in tenure and promotion guidelines for faculty, and focusing the design of international programs on how they integrate the requirements of various majors rather than the location and length of stay.
Overall, this edited volume provides an important and accessible introduction to the barriers to participation in international programs, and practical program- and institution-level strategies to address these barriers. As the editors point out in the introduction, the work of providing equitable access to international programs cannot just be about increasing the number of students participating in existing programs, but must address how these programs and student experiences will change.
Institute of International Education. (2018). Open doors: Report on international educational exchange. Retrieved from https://www.iie.org/en/Research-and-Insights/Open-Doors
Kuh, G. D. (2008). High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges & Universities.
Marx, H., & Moss, D. M. (2011). Please mind the culture gap: Intercultural development during a teacher education study abroad program. Journal of Teacher Education, 62(1), 3547.
Sharma, S., El-Atwani, K., Rahatzad, J., Ware, J., Phillion, J., & Malewski, E. (2012). How disorienting experiences in informal learning contexts promote cross-cultural awareness in preservice teachers: Findings from a study abroad program. LEARNing Landscapes, 5(2), 281294.