BUT I have come to believe that intercultural competency is too important to leave it to studying abroad. Most students do not have the opportunity to travel outside of their country as part of their studies. (See Project Atlas for a glimpse at the numbers for several countries, and UNESCO’s Global Flow of Tertiary-Level Students for more detailed information.)
So how do we make it possible for ALL students to develop intercultural competency? Simply put, we need to “internationalize at home.” ALL students in ALL disciplines in ALL institutions need to learn to be/live/work respectfully, flexibly and humbly in an interconnected world. (I’ll leave to for another posting to define this competence beyond this brief statement, or I will refer readers to other publications and presentations I have made with colleagues. Suffice it to say, what I mean is a combination of skills, knowledge and attitude)
Sure, mobility is a powerful way to develop this competence, but even those fortunate individuals who study abroad for a year, need the support of their home institution to reinforce the learning. It is not enough to just send them away, and have no tools to help them when they return.
There are many ways to internationalize at home, both within the classroom and outside. Every course can (and should) incorporate readings, cases and other materials from outside its home country; Skype and similar technologies allow similar courses in different countries to work together; internships in local, globally-focused organizations provide students with the opportunity to learn how the world is reflected in their own day-to-day world; international dorms promote outside-of-the-classroom intercultural learning, as do international speakers and events in the community or on campus. These are only a few ideas; I’ve included some examples of “good practices” on my website: in English and Portuguese.
Let us not get lost in the wonders of mobility and forget those who must stay at home!