Global Education Beyond Immersion and Regimes of Mobility

Global Education Beyond Immersion and Regimes of Mobility

Neriko Musha Doerr (Ramapo College, USA)
Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7379-2.ch012
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This chapter suggests new approaches to global education based on ethnographic fieldworks of students' study abroad experience and a classroom project that challenges the binary opposition of “cultures” in the notion of immersion by drawing on the multi-scalar networks framework where individuals are seen to have multiple connections to others and by replacing the notion of “global competence” with “structural competence” that sees mundane practices as symptoms of wider structural arrangements. This chapter also challenges the double standard over mobility in “regimes of mobility” and argues for connecting study abroad and minority immigrant experiences on campus and including diverse programs within the purview of global education.
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The issue of equity is rarely discussed in “global education” and its prominent form, study abroad. However, one of the prevalent notions in study abroad, that of immersion, is problematic in two ways: it promotes ideologies that distort the study abroad processes and foster harmful assumptions (Doerr, 2013; 2018), and its selective use reinforces regimes of mobility that celebrate the experiences of study abroad students but not those of others, such as immigrants (Glick Schiller & Salazar, 2013). This chapter elaborates the author’s previous critiques of this notion and suggests new ways to approach global education in ways that encourage equity in its practices.

The author has argued elsewhere (Doerr, 2013) that the notion of immersion—to “live like a local”—presupposes and perpetuates the nation-state ideology that treats one nation as an internally homogeneous, bounded unit that is fundamentally distinct from other nations. This notion positions study abroad as an experience of “different culture” that allows students to gain “global competence.” This chapter seeks to overcome this notion in two ways. First, it proposes that the idea of immersion should give way to that of multi-scalar networks, which, rather than viewing individuals as belonging to a binary category in relation to one’s “cultural Other,” sees them as having multiple, fluid networks rooted in diverse subject positions developed through, for example, ethnic affiliations, religious communities, business relationships, or political views. To show how study abroad experiences can be perceived in this way, this chapter will introduce the examples of three students who spoke of their study abroad experiences in Sierra Leone as a discovery of shared similarities and connections more than a fascination with difference. This model offers an alternative way to experience, perceive, and relate to people in the host society that reduce binary perception, which tend to be positioned hierarchically, and promote more equitable study abroad experiences.

Second, this chapter seeks to overcome the binary approach of immersion by reframing the focus of immersion on everyday practices. Rather than treating mundane practices in the host society as representative of culture and thus experience them as “learning a different culture” (Goldoni, 2013; Jackson, 2009; for its critique, see Doerr, 2013; Iino, 2006), students can view mundane activities as symptoms of wider structural arrangements, as posited by Paulo Freire and the critical pedagogy he inspired (Freire, 1970/1997; Giroux, 2001). Even though immersion has been viewed as successfully nurturing “global competence” through learning to live in another culture (Deardorff, 2009; Hovey & Weinberg, 2009), this chapter suggests reframing the immersion notion as nurturing what the author calls “structural competence” and illuminate the macro contexts that shape people’s lives (Doerr, 2018). The author showcases a way to do this as a class project: each student chooses one mundane commodity and traces the global spread of its production and circulation processes, showing that everyday life is an outcome of global processes shaped by various laws, trade agreements, and regulations, which in turn are influenced by public opinions expressed through protests and voter and consumer practices.

As to the notion of regimes of mobility—globalization’s double standard for human global mobility, based on individuals’ race, class, etc. (Glick Schiller & Salazar, 2013)—the chapter seeks to challenge and reduce this unequitable double standard by suggesting that the campus offices of Study Abroad and of Equity and Diversity (focused on minority students), which usually operate separately, should develop collaborative relationship. To show how this can be done, the chapter will introduce the Global Competence Workshop, an event the author carried out in 2018 (for details, see Doerr, 2018).

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