For international learning, how one teaches is as important as what one teaches. International learning benefits greatly from collaboratively-taught courses and curricula that enable students (and faculty) to create new knowledge from dialogue and encourage them to see themselves and the world through the eyes of others.
Strategic international partnerships are central to this effort. The linkages they create can be a source of learning for students and faculty alike. This page of the RoadMap focuses on integrating such linkages into the way faculty teach, and the courses and curricula students take. It builds on and overlaps other discussions, throughout the Innovations section of the RoadMap, concerning the value of bringing students, disciplines, institutions, communities, and the world of work together for international learning.
To put this another way, international learning is inherently about connectivity, and it benefits from bringing that connectivity into the classroom. The more these lessons take hold, the more connections are made, the more likely it is that students will embark on study abroad in each other’s countries.
In such situations, it is also likely that faculty will connect for purposes of research and that their thinking and their pedagogy will be transformed by the new ideas arising from co-teaching.
Such efforts also sometimes amplify the subjects and degrees that students can pursue, providing opportunities that their university or college could not, and serving as further enticement to study abroad.
There are multiple ways to act on the curricular and pedagogical connectivity provided by international partnerships. Here is a sampling:
- Collaborative teaching through IT. Partner faculty and students can be connected to each other, even while on their home campuses, through both synchronous and asynchronous forms of information technology. This can be done for single class sessions, entire co-taught courses, special events, and student-to-student collaborations of all sorts. The partnership between the State University of New York COIL Center and Kansai University provides an outstanding example.
- Faculty exchange. Most partnerships contain a clause concerning faculty exchange. Approaching this clause with intentionality and planning can bring international perspectives into the curriculum on a regular basis. In this vein, as part of its Go Global project, Akita International University exchanges roughly 15 faculty members with its international (including U.S.) partners every year, with the explicit goal of broadening faculty perspectives and bringing new voices to their campus.
- Course articulations. Course articulation occurs when courses at two institutions are compared to determine which courses of one institution might be counted for credit at the other institution (and vice versa). The process gives students greater security in taking such courses, enables the courses to count toward degree requirements, and opens the door for students to take courses and hear perspectives they would not encounter at their home campus. In some cases, they take such articulated courses through the use of IT; in others, it is done while studying abroad. The University of Tsukuba’s Campus-in-Campus program is developing a Course Jukebox system of code-sharing courses with strategic international partners, including the University of California, Irvine.
- Short-term travel connected to on-campus courses. Short-term study abroad experiences can be deepened by connecting or embedding them in semester courses that enable students to maximize their time overseas. The travel can occur during or after the on-campus course, which prepares students for the experience, frames it academically, and assists students in reflecting on what they have learned. When done with an overseas partner, such programs can also connect faculty and students with each other virtually, both before and after travel. The 360o program of Bryn Mawr College fits this category.
- Double and joint degrees. The most elaborate mode of curriculum collaboration is the development of either double degrees (students take required courses at two institutions and receive two separate degrees, one from each) or joint degrees (students take required courses at two institutions and receive a single degree, signed by both institutions). The latter generally reduces the number of courses students take but requires that legal mechanisms for degree recognition in both nations be followed by both institutions. Both have the potential to create strongly interactive cohorts of students and fully internationalized curricular offerings.
A 2014 International Association of Universities survey revealed both types of collaborative degrees to be increasing worldwide, with double degrees far outstripping joint degrees. A 2012 American Council on Education survey showed that 13% of U.S. institutions engage in such programs, including over half of U.S. doctoral-granting universities. Joint degrees have not been possible in Japan (although the 2014 International Cooperative Curricula Scheme opens the door for a modified form), but double degrees have.
Relatively few double degree programs exist between the United States and Japan. The M.A. in International Relations between Ritsumeikan University and American University, designed “for students who want to take an interdisciplinary and multicultural approach to their research and education” is one example.