There have been a couple of items this last week or so about Internationalisation that have got me writing.
Last month’s Rhodos was a special edition on the subject and our department got a very nice write up as one of the most ‘internationalised’ at Rhodes.
One of the main reasons why we have been so keen to do things like bring in visiting staff and send our students beyond our borders is because we are a small Department of only five academics and we are understaffed. Leave arrangements mean that we frequently have only four staff and when you add on to that the need to undertake field work, present your work at conferences etc then we can easily have only two or three permanent staff ‘in house’. That is not enough to enable a mainstream teaching and research department to function.
Our staffing is also unbalanced, Geography departments need a balance of human geography specialists, physical geography specialists and integrators. That’s just not possible with only five. So we bring in visitors and send our postgraduates on exchange, to conferences and courses so that they gain an appropriate level of intellectual exposure.
Betty Leask (Australian National Teaching Fellow) gave us a thought provoking presentation last week ‘Internationalisation of the curriculum (IoC) in action’. You can access lots of her presentations at the IoC website. One of her conclusions (which I agree with) is that the core work must be done by academics in disciplinary teams but this left me wondering: just how would we do what she is working on? When would we be able to assemble a disciplinary team to address Internationalisation in our curriculum? The whole idea of developing policies (eg on IoC) is that there are sufficient staff in house to discuss and then operationalise and implement them. In my experience this is not often the case.