Globalization or Internationalization? 11

We have been discussing these terms in a committee of which I am a member at our University. I argued that what we really mean is “globalization” because “internationalization” implies national identities and concerns and while that is part of what we are interested in, our main concern is to develop our students and university in a way that transcends borders and addresses issues that cross borders. I did not write this, but what do you think?

Globalization describes a process by which people of the world function together economically, technologically, socio-culturally, and politically. It is a process whereby human activities operate at a global scale, to some degree independently of national boundaries, with implications both regionally and globally. A globalized world is one in which people’s day-to-day lives are significantly impacted by environmental events and social, economic, and political actions originating outside of the region and whose sphere of influence is global in extent.


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11 thoughts on “Globalization or Internationalization?

  • Looney

    I had always understood that globalization was founded on trade and economics. The practice is ancient, but the original theory owes to Adam Smith and was described extensively in The Wealth of Nations. Our current version, which involves the interaction of different cultures in the world of Dilbert cubicles, has grown far beyond simple trade.

    Internationalization is more related to the political landscape. The definition listed includes both and may include elements of multi-culturalism also. Multi-culturalism is an extension of tourism where we take an interest in and honor someone else’s culture just because it is different.

  • Drew

    I perhaps tend toward the skeptical with the term globalization. I ask the question, globalized for whom?

    It is applicable to the way that economics tends to work. However, the socio-cultural piece is the one that I think is usually taken for granted without any evidence that it is true. It was perhaps true where I lived in central NJ where I had Indian and Polish neighbors, neither of whom spoke English as a first language and the Indian family would wear traditional clothing more often than not. Yet in spite of this, our socio-cultural dimensions did not interact on a substantive level. This is why Malcolm Waters (perhaps in reference to Robertson) refers to globalization as a phenomenon that fractures as it intermingles different socio-cultural influences. That is to say that when global socio-cultural boundaries blur, a sort of tribalism emerges in order to reclaim localized socio-cultural identities. Which just begs the question if globalization is the right description of the phenomenon at that point.

  • Looney

    Globalization usually is a “what” – a commodity that is produced and traded globally, unless we are talking about human trafficking.

    Probably there should be one more distinct category: migration and its aftermath.

  • Chris Brady Post author

    The term “globalization” did indeed begin with economic theory, but now has moved to have multiple meanings (a bit like midrash which can be a genre of literature, an exegetical method, or s single story or pericope). So I am not going to say that either Looney or Drew are wrong but I will go back to the scope or our endeavor on his committee.

    We are looking at our programs at the university that are traditionally described as “international,” including student abroad, research opportunities, international students and faculty, and fellowships. Our task to assess them and consider if/what we need to change. One aspect that I argued for was the use of the term “globalization” so that our focus would shift from, for example, getting students to Italy to sit in a classroom (with Americans) and learn things in English, “academic tourism,” to an approach that recognizes and focuses upon issues, concepts, and experiences that transcend national boundaries.

    A practical example, we have a course on environmental sustainability. This is an issue that can be studied anywhere really and the main course is taught at our university (across two campuses, in fact). It is what we call an “embedded course” since a travel component is embedded into the course. They travel to Bulgaria over spring break. While there they meet with government leaders, leading scientists, activists, and stay with local communities all the while engaging with questions of sustainability. This is a “globalized” course.

    On a university scale then we are talking about everything from faculty research, graduate studies, and undergraduate curricula. It includes courses that address such “global” concepts, encourage collaboration across boundaries (any boundaries), and provide opportunities to physically go to other regions of the world. It does, as Looney pointed out, include elements of what one might narrowly define as “globalization” on an economic front and “internationalization” on the political scale but should also provide room for sociological, historical, and cultural engagement.

    We could think of it as a “disruptive concept.” 🙂

  • Steve

    Hmmm… Interesting… globalization being discussed in a nation that still has strong regional cliques and biases. I would actually encourage, first, and embedded program that focused on getting students to travel beyond their specific region of the US. It’s funny (not really) but while I tend to think of myself as “average” I realize that I, and my brother, are far better traveled than most (read–vast majority) of people in this country.

    If we were truly a well traveled nation, we wouldn’t have (liberals predominately) referring to the “fly over states” and we certainly wouldn’t have candidates, after losing in Iowa, explain that “they don’t really count anyway.” I suspect (but don’t really want to take the time to prove) that most of the “sophisticated” travelers in the US have been to Europe, and traveled along the coasts of the US, but perhaps not made it any further inland than, say, Pittsburgh or Vegas. And most often, those trips were flights from the East (or west).

    Let’s first encourage our students to visit Minnesota, and Wyoming, and South Dakota, and yes, Iowa. Visit Arizona for more than the Grand Canyon, and Colorado for more than skiing and a film festival. Let’s get the urban out to see the rural, and the rural in to see the urban. And Suburbia? Get them moving beyond their daily commute.

    Don’t just “see America” — meet, greet, and understand America, in ALL it’s diverse beauty.

  • Chris Brady Post author

    I agree quite strongly with Steve, and not just because he is my brother. (In fact, most folks will tell you that is quite a mountain to climb towards agreement. 🙂 ) Penn State has 21 campuses where undergraduates are enrolled and we have honors programs at each of them. I know from our program directors that many and perhaps most of their students have never been outside the state of PA! Thus an annual trip to Wash. DC is a very important part of their education that the honors program at one campus offers.

    In this committee’s planning we are not ignoring the domestic aspect to globalization at all, but rather feel that this is an important aspect as well. Again, to offer an example, we (the honors college) sponsored a course on the civil rights movement that included a 2 week tour through key sites including DC and AL. The point is to broaden our students’ horizon and if it only extends to Altoona, then starting in DC is a pretty good first step.

  • Steve

    Thanks-I think… but here’s the challenge then. When discussing “academic tourism” I really perceived that you didn’t like that concept at all. I would agree-we travel to engage, not to photograph (and blog).

    Thus, I would challenge programs to not just “visit D.C.,” and not just “tour key sites” involved with civil rights, but find ways to get one group of people (our students) to actually mix/mingle/share a soda and conversation with, the people that actually live there.

    Take them to E Street in D.C., or when you “tour key sites” don’t just walk the bridge. Eat at the Selma version of the Dixie Cafe (from Hearne TX). But don’t just go there–work with other universities in the area, to try to find a way to make it an opportunity to engage with the citizens there, and not just order from them, and sit with yoru friends.

    The problem with comfort zones is they are comfortable. Alas, we have too many of them, and we allow too many people to judge one group from the comfort of their zone (in N.Y.C., or Chicago, or…)

  • Chris Brady Post author

    Steve = agree on all counts. These trips to DC, for example, are (1) not intended to be “the It” of their experience, (2) are part of a larger course that helps them to understand more about the place and what is going on there. They usually (so I understand, it is not my program) connect with various folks there and get their perspective, etc.

    DC is actually not the greatest example in this case, however, since it IS a “tourism” city in a way that even NYC or Vegas is not. It is primarily our seat of federal government and originally folks weren’t even supposed to have residence there (softball for you Steve) so a trip to DC is going to be far more about politics, government, and monuments than I would expect from a trip to, for example, Atlanta.

  • Drew

    I see where you are going with this!

    My best experience of Philly was not Indy hall, but cleaning up a unused piece of land where they were going to build a community center. Followed by visiting a local COGIC church and talking to people who lived in that community. It was visceral – literally cleaning human excrement, to listening to people talk about what is going on in the city outside of city hall (ironically Rendell then became the governor of PA which surprised my wife and I living in NJ at the time after learning about the things that were not quite right in Philly during his stay there).

    A good friend of mine decided to go to Scotland one summer for a month – by himself. He purchased a one way plane ticket and that was it. His goal was to get to know people well enough in order to throw himself on the good graces of the people there. So he stayed in guest rooms in houses, barns, and only a couple of times stayed in a local inn. How did he do it? Hanging out in the local pubs and talking with the bartenders and local farmers and business people. I don’t think he visited a castle his entire time there – because it’s not something most locals do on a regular basis!

    But I think any good local experience in any culture anywhere is done by eating with people and talking – an perhaps throwing yourself at their mercy as well. If you enter a local establishment where the people there look at you a little funny the first time they see you, you are probably in the right spot to sit at the counter and talk a bit – or just listen.

    There is a local culture in every locality in the world.

  • Steve

    I will be a little more blunt. I want people (generally from the left) to stop telling me that I need to understand the peoples from around the world, and I want them to start getting to know the people in their own back yard. Stop telling “the people” that you know what’s wrong with them, and actually get to know them. That can’t happen in controlled campaign stops at one or two local diners.

    You see, the elitist charge is one that I think applies against the left far more than it does against the “right.” The left prefers to “fly over” America, and then tell the part they just flew over how they can save them. Really? REALLY?

  • Looney

    Well, since I have lived and worked in many countries and been living with people of various nationalities for the last 30 years, I do have some observations. Foremost, the US is one of the few places that actively disses its own cultural heritage. Whereas the cultural revolution in China was short and brutal, the American cultural revolution seems to be never ceasing and insidious. We don’t need to dump our own culture and values to discover the world.

    One of the first cultural travelers was Herodotus. He did an admirable job of comparing cultures and describing what was honorable and what wasn’t. Unfortunately, most of what is admirable in western culture is linked in some way to Christianity, and therefore cannot be encouraged in the education system without violating “separation of church and state”, even if the admirable cultural value predates Christianity. It seems that our education system has a constitutional mandate to trash our culture.