How to engage faculty in curriculum internationalisation

Curriculum internationalisation has become more of a focus for higher education institutions in recent years. Establishing a strong sense of collaboration between faculty and international educators is crucial for success. After six years’ work on curriculum internationalisation, I want to share my experience with regard to effectively engaging faculty in curriculum internationalisation.

Lesson 1: Break the ‘Iron Cage’

International educators need to be aware of the 'Iron Cage’ created by institutional structures and job descriptions. The specialisation of each office or educator’s job prevents us from seeing the big picture of internationalisation. We should break this iron cage to expand our roles and responsibilities and be able to present ourselves as a ‘whole’ person rather than the one piece of internationalisation that we are contributing to.

Lesson 2: Create a shared language

International educators should be aware of the different definitions and implications of certain terms in different disciplines. For example, internationalisation or internationalising the curriculum can be interpreted differently, or even with contrary agendas in some cases. This confusion needs to be addressed at the early stages. International educators should work with faculty to create a shared language about curriculum and comprehensive internationalisation.

Lesson 3: Emphasise faculty’s ownership of the curriculum

International educators should not let faculty feel that they are taking over their courses. We should make it clear to faculty that these are their courses and we are working with them to support their ideas and initiatives on internationalising their courses. Faculty should see us as a resource and as collaborators who are looking to achieve the same goals through their curriculum.

Lesson 4: Realise the dynamic nature of curriculum internationalisation

Curriculum internationalisation is a time-consuming and ever-changing process. Internationalisation of higher education is a dynamic system with multiple factors and variables. We need to be aware of the potential changes in the system, such as the retirement of key faculty, changes of staff members, shifts in programme priorities or updates of university initiatives etc, and to stay alert and adapt to these changes. We also need to constantly revisit what has been done and revise or update our approaches and projects as a result.  

Lesson 5: Make the case for curriculum internationalisation

Why do we need to internationalise the curriculum? What is missing from our existing curriculum? Why do faculty need to work with us in this process? International educators should make it clear to all stakeholders about the benefits of curriculum internationalisation for our students, faculty and institutions. We need to be proactive and create a culture of open communication with various offices and individuals on campus to align goals for promoting curriculum internationalisation.

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