An Integral Analysis of International Mindedness

An Integral Analysis of International Mindedness

Avis Eileen Beek (University of Calgary, Czech Republic)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5873-6.ch004


The purpose of this chapter is to report on a study that examined contextual interpretations of international mindedness by International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme students in different school contexts in the Czech Republic. The conceptual framework was based on Wilber's integral theory and integral methodological pluralism, a novel application in the study of international mindedness. Using an empirical methodology, international mindedness was shown to be widely applicable, developmental, and experiential in nature. Through a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology, findings revealed the experience of international mindedness was characterized by the development of an intercultural identity, the ability to take alternate perspectives, and the capacity to resolve disconnection from important people in their lives. Contextual factors of privilege and exposure to diversity also influenced students' experience of international mindedness. Implications for improving education for international mindedness at the level of the school and the IB organization are discussed.
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As our human experience becomes increasingly globalized, diverse individuals are much more able to influence one another. This contemporary experience is rich in collaboration and ingenuity that rightly advances our planet towards a peaceful and sustainable existence. However, the complexity of these exchanges is often challenged by that which divides us whether it be geography, language or politics. The aspiration to be internationally minded suggests that through respectful intercultural understanding, there is a way of being that allows us to acknowledge our differences and work together towards the greater good. Reasonably, education across diverse settings must play a role in the development of international mindedness. The aim of this research was to explore how education in different contexts is responsive to this increasingly significant worldview of international mindedness.

Integral theory was employed in this research as a novel and rigorous means of studying the complex construct of international mindedness. The integral approach aims to incorporate insights of all the existing research methodologies in an integrative way so that new possibilities can be realized (Oral, 2013). Inquiry into the multifaceted and complex construct of international mindedness was enriched through this holistic and all-encompassing approach. As integral theory provides a conceptual and methodological structure that is appropriate to virtually all contexts at any scale (Esbjörn-Hargens, 2009) it was well suited to frame this context-sensitive study of international mindedness. Perhaps most fitting to this research, integral theory is about connection. To Ken Wilber (2000a), integral means:

…to integrate, to bring together, to join, to link, to embrace. Not in the sense of uniformity, and not in the sense of ironing out all the wonderful differences, colors, zigs and zags of a rainbow-hued humanity, but in the sense of unity-in-diversity, shared commonalities along with our wonderful differences. (p. 2)

Context and Purpose

The context of this study was to examine international mindedness through the lens of schools offering the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme. The IB is a non-profit international educational organization founded in 1968, providing programmes for students aged 3 to 18 in close to 150 countries (IBO, 2016). The organization is dedicated to guiding young people in the development of international mindedness. The aim of all IB programmes is to “develop internationally minded people who, recognizing their common humanity and shared guardianship of the planet, help to create a better and more peaceful world (IBO, 2013, p. 1).

More specifically, the purpose of the study was to examine contextual interpretations of international mindedness of IB Diploma Programme students in two distinct school contexts in the Czech Republic. The C-School can be described as a national school whose student body is primarily Czech, the majority of whom attended Czech government schools in the past. The majority of the teaching faculty are also Czech. The I-School is an international school that enrols students mainly from expatriate families and a smaller number of Czech citizens. It has a much more diverse student body and teaching faculty in terms of past school experiences.

Research Design

As an integrally informed inquiry, examination of the construct of international mindedness occurred through the distinct yet intersecting perspectives of the integral quadrants. The research was initiated with questions posed and literature reviewed from the perspectives of the integral quadrants. The study proceeded from the UR to the UL to the LL quadrant with the findings in each quadrant informing the subsequent. Implications for practice and further research emerged through the lens of the LR quadrant.

As integral theory acknowledges and includes insights from all valid forms of research (Esbjörn-Hargens, 2009), this integral research was enacted through methodological pluralism. In particular, integral methodological pluralism was employed in this study through empirical and hermeneutic-phenomenological research methodologies. Quantitative and qualitative methods were undertaken. Figure 1, outlines the research questions, literature review focus, methodology and methods and findings of the study.

Figure 1.

Research questions, literature review outline, methodology and methods undertaken in the research


Key Terms in this Chapter

International School: A school that places emphasis on an international education program with a student body and teaching faculty is mostly culturally and linguistically diverse.

Integrally Informed Research: Research that is epistemologically and methodologically informed by integral theory and aspects of the AQAL model.

International Education: Education concerned with international mindedness.

International Mindedness: An outlook of being globally engaged through intercultural understanding that compels individuals to work towards peace, equality, and sustainability.

International Baccalaureate: A non-profit international organization that offers international education programs with for students ages 3–18.

International Baccalaureate Diploma Program: A rigorous two-year course of study offered in IB accredited schools leading to an international academic school leaving qualification.

Intercultural Understanding: The capacity to value one’s own culture and be aware, respectful, and curious of other cultures.

National School: A school following a national education program with a mostly culturally and linguistically homogeneous student body and teaching faculty.

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