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Bucknell Beyond Borders and Internationalization

The American Council on Education (ACE) defines comprehensive internationalization as “a strategic, coordinated framework that integrates policies, programs, initiatives, and individuals to make colleges and universities more globally oriented and internationally connected.” For our purposes, it refers to the process of making every aspect of Bucknell University more open to learning from and about non-U.S.-centric modes of living and working.

At Bucknell Beyond Borders, we follow Deardorff’s definition of intercultural competence as “the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately in intercultural situations based on one’s intercultural knowledge, skills, and attitudes.” This goes far beyond tweaking Bucknell’s study abroad offerings or attracting more international students: we would like to bring the world to Bucknell and Bucknell to the world. This means de-centering the U.S. perspective in everything we do and making cultural humility and genuine curiosity about others an institutional norm. It means intentionally recognizing that doing this work can be a vital part of our collective goal to make Bucknell a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive institution. The world is not “U.S.-centric” or “international” – it is a constantly moving set of reciprocal processes. Every aspect of a Bucknell education could be better by taking this reality seriously and applying it in our teaching, scholarship, policies, and procedures.

We are very aware that the term “internationalization” is also used in different contexts for very different, even contradictory purposes. Multinational corporations use the term for making products and services as adaptable as possible, so they can easily sell them in different national markets. In the 1960s, the U.S.A. and other Western nations debated about “internationalizing” the Panama Canal, as a means to ensure that it was NOT under the control of the people of Panama. It is also commonly used in the cluster of terms associated with “globalization.” What all these corporate and Western hegemonic definitions of the term share is an ideological myth of openness and shared opportunity masking a reality of unequal power and the exploitation of weaker nations by stronger ones.

Bucknell Beyond Borders affirms our resistance to these processes and offers this document as part of the process of reclaiming not just the term “internationalization” but the actions in and consequences of it. Rather than privileging U.S.-centric interests, we offer internationalization as a process of creating cultural humility; de-centering Western norms and assumptions in our academic and professional lives; and encouraging genuine understanding of the Other. Through teaching, learning, research, and engagement at Bucknell, we intend to use internationalization “to foster epistemic plurality and integrate critical, antiracist and anti-hegemonic learning about the world from diverse global perspectives to enhance the quality and relevance of [Bucknell] education”.