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Pedagogies of Reciprocity: The Politics of International Education

Year of Funding: 
Study-abroad students in Mozambique via US State Department.

In 1968, Ivan Illich famously told US students in Mexico that their “good intentions” would help no one. “Next to money and guns,” Illich declared, “the third largest North American export is the US idealist.” Illich’s scathing critique of North American “do-goodism” is required reading for all who plan to research, study, or teach abroad. Nevertheless, higher education institutions based in the US have failed to articulate a compelling reply to Illich’s concerns. International education and global partnerships have become incorporated as virtually standard elements of university missions to produce responsible “global citizens” and future leaders.

As US colleges and universities send a significant and increasing number of both undergraduate and graduate students abroad, we are at an important moment to research more deeply what these programs mean for students, faculty, and the partners and other stakeholders in the locations where such programs take place across international education programs originating in the United States.

Pedagogies of Reciprocity is an inter-campus and international research effort to explore the politics of global partnerships within international education. The project draws upon the knowledge of a set of global research collaborators, as well as faculty, graduate students, and staff at the University of Washington. The project centers the voices of those who operate at the point of impact for many international education programs: individuals from host countries who simultaneously play the roles of researchers, instructors, and program staff to provide shape to many of our programs, facilitate the access of students and faculty alike to the intellectual, cultural, and political life of the host nation.

Pedagogies of Reciprocity recognizes the essential knowledge these individuals bring to research on the politics, discourses, and impacts of international education programs, even while most of the existing literature completely ignores the role of these research collaborators. The project brings together research collaborators from several locations in the Global South to work with UW faculty, staff, and graduate students to develop a joint research agenda around reciprocity and social justice in international education (both at the UW and more broadly), to enact South-South collaborations, and to generate and implement best practices for more ethical international education programs.

Primary Contact

Anu Taranath (Comparative History of Ideas)
Benjamin Gardner (IAS, UW Bothell)
Ron Krabill (IAS, UW Bothell)