2018 AIEA Annual Conference

The Internationalization Imperative in Turbulent Times

February 18-21, 2018 
Washington Marriott Wardman Park 
Washington, DC, USA

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The Internationalization Imperative in Turbulent Times 

Internationalization of higher education is needed now more than ever.  Each day brings new challenges, and the next few years will undoubtedly continue to bring further uncertainty and definitive paradigm shifts. (Consider the recent Syrian deterioration, Brexit, Indian Currency revaluation, South African student protests, and US elections, to name a few; other countries face recent and upcoming elections and growing resistance to policies promoting multiculturalism and cultural openness). As nations seek to ameliorate the disparities of the world economy driven by globalization, conflicting divergent ideologies have surfaced, leading to desires to tighten borders and focus national policies inwardly. This current changing global political landscape provides us as international educators the opportunity to reflect upon, reframe and recommit to the imperative of international higher education and to hone our skills in communicating its import to a redefined and expanded audience.

As international higher education leaders we are challenged to navigate the intricacies of a changing political and economic landscape. Determining trends in higher education, creating and implementing strategic plans, garnering resources, and collecting and analyzing data to further our agendas as university leaders are integral aspects of our job, but it seems that these responsibilities have become more challenging.

Leaders of internationalization must anticipate and adapt to the needs of their institutions within the larger global context, providing leadership that acknowledges past trends while at the same time anticipating the needs wrought by the future.

At the core of this call is the need to balance the influence of external and internal forces that shape international education leaders’ work. So many of our challenges are not necessarily within our grasp to control, but rather are ours to mold in the most positive manner possible: we are more like blacksmiths at the hearth forging the skills to build coalitions and identify allies near and far to further the internationalization imperative.

One of the most critical aspects in times as these is a heightened awareness of the imperative to advocate for internationalization and the power of international education.  To do this, we need to appreciate the power of storytelling in making our cases. We must be able to communicate with a wide range of constituents and (non)interested parties, and that undertaking is not without vulnerability given that currently we find ourselves in a very polarized global environment.

This work is difficult. AIEA invites submissions that take up any or all of the following sub-themes, or other topics that explore the university leader’s role (known broadly in the US as Senior International Officer [SIO]) in the internationalization of higher education at this turbulent time in history. We also invite you to incorporate AIEA’s recently published Standards of Professional Practice for International Education Leaders and Senior International Officers into your proposals as warranted. The standards are available online (.pdf).

NB: AIEA defines SIO as individuals within an institution of higher education who are charged with leading and facilitating its internationalization efforts. AIEA recognizes that many other terms may be used to reference these leaders, depending on the context and country (examples include International Relations Officer, International Relations Manager, International Liaison Officer, and so on).  

Conference Subthemes:

SIOs as Visionaries: Leading internationalization in times of perceived global insecurity (e.g., preparing faculty and students to address local and global turbulence; advancing global research to meet world challenges; leading curricular enhancement initiatives that prepare graduates for the interconnected world they inhabit; creating inclusive internationalization efforts locally).

SIOs as Strategic Planners: Effective strategic planning within new paradigms; leading internationalization in strategic directions; nimble approaches to making progress while adapting to a quickly changing environment; building critical alliances.

SIOs as Ethical Leaders: Ethical principles/ implications of internationalization in these potentially transformative times; grappling with the economic/corporate drivers of higher education to affect positive change; communicating the internationalization imperative while preserving our fundamental values,  integrity and beliefs in the need for a globally engaged citizenry while at the same time attracting the best talent and balancing the need for resources; good practices for enhancing enterprise risk management and incorporating legal considerations of internationalization into our everyday rhetoric and processes; developing sound principles for engaging partnerships at all levels.

SIOs as Skilled Communicators: Communicating the value proposition of internationalization beyond the academy (i.e., to the broader public and local citizens)—conducting authentic conversations with local constituents; improving stakeholder relations/redefining stakeholders and building coalitions; innovative approaches to an old problem: Making the case for Internationalization; redefining advocacy and our role as leaders in uncertain times.

SIOs as Change Agents: Best practices in serving as change agents with the world’s future in mind (incorporating sustainability development goals into the campus agenda; anticipating and responding to the improbable; staff development for the future of our field; capitalizing on faculty expertise to strengthen our internationalization efforts).