At the Intersections: International and Multicultural Higher Education
Within the United States, the areas of international and multicultural higher education have similar goals but different origins, and there have been historical areas of tension between the two even as many scholars and practitioners have sought ways to link them. Much literature on the intersections between the two areas was published in the 1990s and early 2010s, but the landscape of higher education has shifted significantly in recent years; furthermore, most previous research focused on theoretical reasons for why the two areas did not intersect and offered broad suggestions for how they could be merged. This study investigated research questions related to what the language used by international and multicultural offices to describe their work can reveal about how they partner or compete to create inclusive institutional environments, using the lens of Kretzmann and McKnight’s assets-based community development theory. The study used content analysis to analyze data collected from the websites of ten institutions in Massachusetts. Key findings include a slight bias towards international offices in asset-based framing and a significant bias towards multicultural offices in deficit-based framing. These findings largely reflect old tensions between the two areas despite nearly three decades of scholarship on the topic and significant changes in climate for higher education, demonstrating the need for a more intentional dialogue between these areas and a balanced model of framing both areas’ work. This research is currently being expanded upon using semi-structured interviews with administrators who work at the ten institutions used in the content analysis.
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