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Internationalising the curriculum

International, intercultural and global perspectives can be manifested both in and through the curriculum in a number of ways. Perhaps the most straightforward of these is through curriculum content. For example, a Bachelor of Property at an Australian university might include information on how property is developed, evaluated, and managed in Singapore as well as in Australia. The basis of this could be that having students know that the idea of 'property development' can be approached differently elsewhere is good for comparative purposes, as well as for their participation in the international labour market when they graduate. This appeals to the point made by Smart et al (2000) that internationalising curriculum content broadens students' horizons beyond peculiarly local phenomena.

What interested Smart et al (2000) more than internationalising curriculum content, however, were innovative teaching approaches that foster intercultural interaction and, presumably, a greater understanding and acceptance of cultural diversity; the overriding responsibility of contemporary education, according to UNESCO's International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century (1996, pp. 22-24.) Support for such outcomes is evident elsewhere in the literature on learning and teaching in higher education. For example, Rizvi and Walsh (1998) note that "a more comprehensive awareness of difference and its implications for personal and social development has come to be seen as a profound feature of contemporary life" (p. 8). Kalantzis and Cope (2000) believe that all students needed to become "comfortable with cultural diversity" (p. 31). 'Intercultural competence', according to Eisenchlas and Trevaskes (2003), is a key for preparing international and local students for their working lives. To this end, curricula which expose students to, and help them develop, intercultural knowledge, awareness, skills, and dispositions are vitally important.

Whilst Smart et al (2000) thought that the classroom was the place where innovative teaching would promote intercultural interaction and engagement, out-of-classroom activities can also provide students with internationalisation-related experiences and learning opportunities. To this end, it is worth noting Leask's (2009) work on the 'informal curriculum' (co-curricular activities), consisting of structured and semi-structured educational opportunities outside class time, which aim to produce meaningful outcomes for students in terms of intercultural engagement. For example, peer mentoring and 'buddy' initiatives that take place outside class time which both facilitate and reward interaction between international and local students. More broadly, Associate Professor Betty Leask recently completed an Australian Learning and Teaching Council (ALTC) National Teaching Fellowship focussed on internationalisation of the curriculum 'in action' in different disciplinary and institutional contexts. Details of the Fellowship activities and links to recent presentations and a range of resources on internationalisation of the curriculum are available at http://www.ioc.net.au

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References

Eisenchlas, S., & Trevaskes, S. (2003). Internationalisation at home: some principles and practices. In A. Liddicoat, S. Eisenchlas & S. Trevaskes (Eds.), Australian perspectives on internationalising education (pp. 87-102). Melbourne: Language Australia Ltd.

International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century. (1996). Learning: The treasure within: report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-First Century. Paris: UNESCO Publishing.

Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. (2000). Towards an inclusive and international higher education. In R. King, Hill, D., & Hemmings, B. (Eds.), University and diversity: Changing perspectives, policies and practices in Australia (pp. 30-53). Wagga Wagga: Keon Publications.

Leask, B. (2009). Using formal and informal curricula to improve interactions between home and international students. Journal of Studies in International Education, Vol. 13, No. 2, 205-221.

Smart, D., Volet, S., & Ang, G. (2000). Fostering social cohesion in universities: bridging the cultural divide. Canberra: Australian Education International (AEI).

Further reading:

Sanderson, G. (2009). Inclusive teaching sans internationalised curricula: A sufficient condition for global citizenship? In Rust, C. (Ed.). Proceedings of the 16th Improving Student Learning Symposium - Improving Student Learning through the Curriculum (Chapter 4, pp. 78-98). Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development: Oxford.

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