Becoming the Change We Want to See: Critical Study Abroad for a Tumultuous WorldReport as inadecuate

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Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, v18 p241-267 Fall 2009

Study abroad has become, at least rhetorically, a core element in U.S. post-secondary education. For those who practice study abroad and have dedicated themselves to leading students, managing programs, or theorizing the role of study abroad in its relationship to the academy generally, the meaning of their work is powerfully shaped by rhetorical frames produced by college administrations and granting institutions. In this essay the authors call for a new way of framing the work of study abroad. They argue that study abroad should deliberately position itself as an activist force in the service of global survival. They propose a new model for understanding the work of study abroad, Critical Study Abroad. Critical Study Abroad is a structured way of framing ones's work with direct reference to the current state of the world, and it suggests concrete changes in the work of study abroad programs. The authors examine nine ways in which Critical Study Abroad can respond to global crisis. Over the past century, several rhetorical frames or discourses have been used to justify the sojourn of U.S. students in foreign locations. For the purposes of this essay, the authors focus on three of these broad discourses: (1) class reproduction; (2) idealist internationalism; and (3) political internationalism. Although each discourse arose in a unique historical moment, elements of all three still shape the rhetoric used to describe contemporary study abroad programs. (Contains 48 notes.)

Descriptors: Study Abroad, Postsecondary Education, Trend Analysis, Social Capital, Social Change, Change Strategies, Rhetorical Theory, Political Influences, Ideology, International Education, International Educational Exchange, Competence, Rhetorical Criticism

Frontiers Journal. Dickinson College P.O. Box 1773, Carlisle, PA 17013. Tel: 717-254-8858; Fax: 717-245-1677; Web site:

Author: Reilly, Doug; Senders, Stefan


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