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America’s education system is built upon a rich history and diversity; we enjoy the envy of many in the world as a center of freedom and strong educational opportunities. However, during an Asia Pacific Rim International Study Experience (APRISE) tour of Chongqing, China, I found that comparatively our system may be missing a vital piece of the education puzzle. During our first full day we visited the Rock Carvings in Dazu. Here there are millennia old sculptures, carvings and engravings that detail the path to enlightenment. Based in Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, they provided background and foundation for us as study tour participants and provided understanding of the culture we came to observe and absorb.

As we began visiting schools and classrooms, the influence of China’s religious, cultural and social history was evident. This structure provides a strong foundation for their education system, a system that is becoming the envy of the world. In the United States, this type of cross-pollination is not possible in the public system. Not only is there the idea of separation of church and state, we also enjoy a vast melting pot of religions, races, beliefs, languages and ideas. Through internationalization however, our influence on China’s infrastructure and their influence on ours will soon change that.

In the near future, our reliance on popular culture, cookie-cutter politics and celebrity must give way to delivering ways for our students to find greater purpose and meaning in the world, not simply a higher socioeconomic status in the United States. We will know we have arrived when the debate goes from education being a private good/public responsibility to the idea that education is a global prerogative and human obligation.

As “new and improved” institutions of higher education are being measured through direct correlation to popular magazine, newspaper, and periodical rankings, it is important to understand what this progress means to the greater global community through a list of indicators of globalization. Using global worldwide university rankings and league tables as a guide, aspects of globalization such as study abroad and exchange programs, numbers of international faculty and students, international research and citations, awards, grants, certifications, global presence and recognition were frequently mentioned. Less so were the ideas of branch campuses, dual degree programs and other global indicators which could dilute brand image. When taking all of these phenomena into consideration, it is easy to observe that the global expansion of higher education has been accompanied by myriad missteps and problems. Through the inventory and definition of key phrases, terms, and practices that are distinct in globalization and at comparable, yet geographically-diverse, universities, a set of perspectives and rationales were matched from the theoretical frameworks in order to elicit responses that provided an understanding of the indigenous categories that the interviewees have created to make sense of their world and the practices they engage in that can be understood only within their worldview (Patton, 2002). Emic analysis was used to search for labels interviewees used to define and describe globalization programs, policies and profiles at institutions. Emic analysis involves analyzing cultural phenomena from the perspective of one who participates in the culture being studied. Through this method, indicators that effectively measure global engagement are revealed.

During the examination of global universities, it is valuable to consider international rankings, as they provide a framework from which indicators of global engagement can be culled. However, rankings can only go so far in the actual definition and description of what constitutes a global university. As universities operate in an environment of increased competitiveness and global engagement, focus and attention needs to be placed on the aspects of internationalization which prove to be beneficial for the university as well as its stakeholders. This process can shift the perspective of the universities in such a way that it provides accountability to the students, faculty, alumni, and entire community. The milestones of this project are: a toolbox for universities to profile their globalization, as well as a number of programs and policies (study abroad programs, international research collaboration, partnerships) which will bring together stakeholders from different levels to discuss the results and start implementation (Centre for Higher Education Development, 2011).

The primary focus of the societal trend of globalization in higher education centers around the number and proportion of international students and faculty, a diverse campus, and connections on a worldwide scale. These findings are consistent with Deem, Mok and Lucas’ (2004) assertion that there are certain qualities that coincide with world-class status and that, in order to have a world-class education system, several things are involved: understanding the world in which we live, the values and cultures of different societies and the ways in which we all, as global citizens, can influence and shape the changes in the global economy, environment and society of which we are part; knowing what constitutes world-class educational standards, measuring ourselves against them and matching them, being a global partner overseas, benchmarking performance against world-class standards, drawing on best practice everywhere; developing the capacity to engage strategically with a wide range of partners across the world that can help universities realize their goals to become the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economies in the world, and promoting the role of universities as international hubs for learning and research.

Thirteen indicators of global engagement were identified. This study was purposefully constructed to gather strong evidence for or against the existence of global indicators within each of four domains: stakeholder perspective/social and cultural rationale; internal business perspective/economic rationale; innovation and learning perspective/academic rationale; and academic management perspective/political rationale. Throughout each of the domains, a significant presence of members of the international community on campus is paramount. This aspect of globalization emerged highly within all four of the domains of the research framework. This includes the numbers and percentages of international students, faculty and administrators, as well as how their interests and influence affects the academic and social environment. Without the influence, interaction, and general presence of members of a global community, a university cannot portend to call itself a global university. Culture is defined as the habits and traditions that set the tone for an institution — that is, the specific ways that stakeholders come together or stay apart (Frost & Chopp, 2004). It makes sense that students, faculty, and academic leaders from geographically, ethnically and culturally diverse regions of the world represent the most relevant, pertinent, and also necessary, indicator of globalization.

There were five findings that emerged:

  • international faculty, students and administrators are vital to globalization processes
  • global consciousness should be integrated throughout the institution and all levels
  • brand image and recognition are important aspects of a universities global profile
  • international collaboration and cross-border engagement are essential
  • administrative involvement and support are necessary for successful programs and policies to exist

By coupling the ideas from the theoretical frameworks, a perception of globalization from an array of stakeholders and investment agents was provided as well as justification for the inclusion and placement of globalization indicators on the resulting framework: The Scale of Global Engagement. There emerged 13 indicators of globalization at colleges and universities: 1) large body of international students, faculty, and administrators, 2) brand image/recognition, 3) international partnerships, 4) funding/fundraising for global activities, 5) international research collaboration, 6) publications/citations worldwide, 7) active, academic cross-border engagement, 8) closely-coupled systems, 9) international offices, 10) top-down administrative support and involvement,11)  meaningful interaction/integration on campus, 12) global programs and activities, and 13) global consciousness. The aforementioned indicators were categorized to match the perspectives/rationales of a newly created scale of global engagement.

Higher education around the world has made a transition due to the current societal trend of globalization. Colleges and universities around the world have entered an era where the movement of minds and cooperation of academia are fashioning out a new brand of institution. Undeniably, globalization and internationalization have had an impact not only on campuses, but also students, faculty, and administrators. Increasingly, institutions are using rankings as a measure of global impact and engagement; however this practice can sometimes prove to be rather useless in the context of the majority of universities dotting the globe. By combing through the methodologies of rankings and other global measurements, which continually increase in scope and breadth as universities struggle to cross international borders and create worldwide connections, there exists a need to further and fully define the current internationalization movement. By developing a list of indicators of global engagement for colleges and universities, the aim is to see how and why “globalization has become one of the most important factors that influence the development of higher education worldwide” (Jiang, 2008).

In fact, this era of globalization is one of the most influential factors in higher education and is pushing universities into a worldwide competition for world-class status. The final result of this inquiry provides a framework for tracking and understanding globalization and its impact on campuses. A new university has emerged. This requires rethinking the modern University, because how we track the global era of higher education is vital to its successful future. This article provides a list of indicators that identifies globalization on campuses as well as provides ideation toward the utilization of global practices and policies.

Defining global engagement through a list of indicators provides a clear and thorough observation on the impact internationalization has on higher education. Historically, there has been extensive criticism of rankings for suggesting false levels of assessment precision. Although criticized in close circles of academia, rankings are taken seriously by administrators, and academic departments are feeling pressure to demonstrate their value. Many of these departments analyze how they can use rankings data to recruit new faculty and top students (Jaschik, 2010). The development of a list of globalization indicators is pertinent to the further development of institutions in that institutions are provided with a practical tool that can assist in the development of academic and professional programs that reflect the globalization of society, the labor market and the global economy. Altbach estimates, “academe itself has become globalized, and institutions seek to benchmark themselves against their peers worldwide — and often to compete for students and staff (2010). A limitation of rankings is that there is only room at the top for as many world-class universities as meet the accepted criteria for such measurement. It is a zero-sum game, where the top 100 is limited to 100. For every space that is taken by a university, there exists one less opportunity for aspiring and emerging world-class universities. Altbach further suggests that perhaps a better idea than rankings is an international categorization system that can delineate institutions according to their missions (2010).

The goal is for a majority of schools to be able to gauge their global engagement, impact and interaction. Many criticize rankings for frequently changing their criteria or rankings’ methodologies making performance difficult to measure longitudinally, and difficult to usefully make comparisons to other institutions. However, 21st century needs to compete, to use other institutions as a point of reference, and to globalize internationally make the creation of some form of indicators warranted. Of the 80% of universities that believe their institutions appear “favorably” in the rankings, 71% promote their rankings results and marketing materials, says Jaschik (2010). This leads to further criticism of using rankings, because as Jashik states, “universities adopt policies that may not be educationally sound for the sole purpose of advancing in the rankings” (2010). For example, schools might decide to focus on faculty research and publication in order to receive citations and major publications, instead of focusing on student learning and intercultural curricular experiences.

Malcolm Gladwell suggests that it is “an act of real audacity when a ranking system tries to be comprehensive and heterogeneous (2011). He also surmises that at no point do the college guides acknowledge the extraordinary difficulty of the task they have set themselves. The first difficulty with rankings is that it can be surprisingly hard to measure the variable one wants to rank — even in cases where that variable seems perfectly objective (2011). For instance, when measuring the number of international students and faculty an institution, the number attained will include several other variables that will have an effect on the total, such as meaningful interaction, school climate and culture. By developing a list of indicators of internationalization and overhauling the idea of rankings and measurements shows promise in the development of globalized institutions on a worldwide basis, and at an innumerable level.

The internationalization of higher education is providing worldwide access and global expansion to institutions on a world stage. As scholars and researchers define and further flesh out the implications of globalization at colleges and universities, the development of indicators of global engagement can help institutions navigate through a society of fading borders. The place-based identity (Armstrong, 2007) of colleges and universities is changing and national boundaries have become largely irrelevant (Wildavsky, 2010).

With this in mind, colleges and universities must find ways to cooperate, collaborate and participate on a global scale in this era of globalization. Universities need to be able to illustrate the presence of these indicators of global engagement within the institution in order to effectively claim to be global institutions producing global scholars. Through a methodical process of definition, characterization and description, globalization at universities is operationally explained for the benefit of developing indicators of successful and progressive global academic image and recognition. Defining globalization and understanding what constitutes a global university is challenging, as institutions use unreliable and invalid rankings to define globalization. The following list of indicators offers opportunities for comprehensive, research-oriented and geographically diverse institutions to gauge global impact and influence through a standardized list. The focus is to create positive outcomes, increase the quality of programs, create innovation in learning and provide global integration.

Dear Linc:

As I stand on the precipice of my fortieth year, I felt that we should have a conversation where we can reflect on the last ten years and work through the next ten years. Life is a series of trials, triumphs and tribulations, and the best we can do is be prepared for what may come. From our strong foundation, assiduous parents, and strong mind to the many opportunities and contingencies we have experienced, this life has been a charmed life, even at the lowest of times.

Over the last ten years, I have grown considerably.Through credentials and crises, each challenge changed me. I set goals, made mistakes, learned from my experiences and challenged myself to achieve more, become more significant. My greatest hope is that there is a legacy attached to the name Lincoln Duane Johnson that lives long after my physical body is no longer useful. Much of what we have done so far is in preparation for that idea to come to fruition. I do not know when our final day will be, but I do know that we must commit to doing the very best we can, everything in our power, to achieve as much as we can in the time that we have. The proverbial clock is ticking.

Next year, after the addition of a prefix to our name, a ten year plan will be employed. The years 40 – 49 are crucial to further career development, as I have given you a research interest and have set the ball in motion for books to be written, ideas to be shared and lives to be changed. It is my hope that you have taken the ball and run with it! It will not be and has not always been easy, but we can do it. The family, our wife and kids, accomplishments and accoutrements have made us into the Lincoln we are now, and will become. Live life with purpose; give life with precision.

Did you know that today, July 24, 2011, is Parent’s Day? Me either. I assume Parent’s Day falls on the fourth Sunday in July each year and was created to synthesize the rift caused in families by separate Mother’s and Father’s days. Of course I am being dramatic about it, but over the years as I transitioned from son to father, I have often wondered why not a day for both parents? Those of us fortunate enough to be raised by two would love the opportunity to celebrate them both. Also, as a parent, it just seems more…legitimate. Any man can be a father, but just like the proverbial Tango, being parents takes two.

I absolutely love my parents. It was not always so. Much of who we are come from our parents, positive and negative, whether we like it or not. It has always been said that we can not choose our parents, yet even when we feel we have the worst parents on earth, we have to admit that most times we’re a perfect fit. My mother was and is the center of my universe. I revolve around her like planets around the sun – from my career, to how I sit, my mannerisms, ways of saying things – in truth, I am a Momma’s boy. Her influence permeates throughout my life, even when we don’t speak for months. My father showed me and socialized me to be a man, a hard worker who cares for his children and does all of this with very few words. Of course I didn’t get the few words part, but as I grow older it is like watching myself grow into him. After his death in 2006, I noticed myself morphing into him, his looks, his attitude, his speech patterns and persona. So on this Parent’s Day, I would like to honor them by accepting that I was born unto who I was for a reason, and they did everything they did to make me who I am now.

As a parent, I often feel sorry for my children. My parents were older when I was born, 36 and 41 and a half, so I wanted children young. I would have been a teenage parent if luck and circumstance had not been on my side. I feel sorry for my kids sometimes because they had to grow with me, go through hardships and challenges as I grew into the man I am now, and never had the stability I had growing up. My children right now are 19, 15 and 5 and we are just now “making it.” I know that those hardships and challenges will somehow benefit my children, but as a parent, we want nothing but the best for them, and unfortunately, the best is sometimes a lofty, but unapproachable goal. Let us use this Parent’s Day to reflect on our own changes and challenges and look forward to watching life tread out in front of us and from under us. I have done many things in my life, but by far the most difficult has been being a good father and husband – being a Parent.

As I sit here on the eve of my 39th birthday, I recall all the years I have experienced on this Earth. Being alive these 38 years and 364 days has allowed me to mature and experience success and failure, changes and challenges, trials and triumphs. From a very young age I have always felt that I was here for a reason, that I was special somehow. As we count our life in years, and in my case down to the second, it is important to think about where we have been and where we are going. As a young adult I thought life could be short and sweet, thinking of living to 54 as having truly lived; making deals with God that if I made it to that age, I would be happy. Now at 39, 54 seems so close that I have to rethink that promise.

Growing up in the hood, many of my peers did not make it to 20, much less 30 and I worried during the dreaded years of 14 through 28, when men that looked like me were destined to be incarcerated or interred, that I needed some ethereal protection. Often, I felt like the hands of God were wrapped around me. During my reckless times, when I could have been dead several times over, it was only through this protection that I survived. Now, on the eve of the date of my birth, I realize that I am here for a reason, and my plan is to live out that reason to its fullest potential.

None of us know what is planned for us, when our days will end, or what our specific purpose is for travailing this world. What I do know is that those coveted ages: 18, 21, 30, 40 and so on, come upon us much quicker as time passes and which much less grace. Getting an education is not easy, keeping control of a career is difficult, and being a good father and husband is the toughest of them all. Next year, in my 40th year, 3rd month, and 10th day, I will be Dr. Lincoln Duane Johnson, and another chapter of the book of life will begin. This is called Mid-Life and I plan on continuing the success I have experienced thus far, to travel far and wide, to look deep within myself and leave a legacy that will exist long after I have perished. That is, in the words of my paternal grandmother, “If the Lord says the same.”

Princess Boy?

Recently, there have been stories of children being ostracized, bullied and even pushed to suicide because of gender identity and differences. My Princess Boy is the nonfiction story of one of Cheryl Kilodavis’ sons who likes the color pink, shiny things and wearing dresses. Where many parents would try to correct this behavior, Kilodavis supports and encourages her son to be himself and accepts him as he is. The story tells of their shopping trips together to buy sparkly things, as well as how his brother and father interact with him and promote his individuality. My Princess Boy is about compassion for others, understanding difference, and the interconnectivity between parents, educators and children that is needed to cultivate self-confident and considerate youth.
Children need to learn that we all come to this world with differences and each of us is an individual with a diverse background. Something that assisted Cheryl Kilodavis in finding acceptance and assurance through her son is her biracial background. Having to synthesize difference within herself allows her to acknowledge her son’s distinct personality. Princess Boy is encouraged by his family; his brother plays and dances with him, his father tells him “how pretty he looks in a dress” (p. 7), and his mother shops for girls’ clothes with him. The issues come when strangers stare and laugh at him and his mother. Kilodavis and her husband have found ways to integrate his individuality into their daily lives: he wore a dress to his birthday party, he plays with friends wearing his princess tiara, and dressed as a princess for Halloween. This story serves as a lesson for many of us who would attempt to quickly stifle this behavior by telling a child, “boys don’t wear dresses” or “that is for girls.” Thus, we are telling them that something is wrong with them, that difference is iniquitous, and diversity is inappropriate. The Princess Boy is a vital tool for educators who may be dealing with the issue of gender identity and acceptance and would like to introduce to students the ideas of tolerance and acknowledgement.
Parents in the 21st century face tough decisions when raising children. In environments of love and support, children can thrive and learn to accept themselves and others. Although My Princess Boy does not explicitly address the idea of being bullied, it does note how others laugh at the young boy and how he questions his mother about others’ reactions. This theme of ostracism is weaved throughout the book, and one can just imagine how Princess Boy and his family are viewed in the community and the school where he is allowed to wear dresses. Some will come to this title with reservations, but until there is a time where differences are celebrated and not dishonored, stories such as this must continue to be told. Conveyed with a sense of realism, love and honesty, My Princess Boy asks in its resolution how children will react to Princess Boy. It asks, will you laugh, call him a name, play with him and like him for who he is? These are important questions educators can use with students to get honest answers and have pertinent discussions regarding diversity and acceptance. Kilodavis’ Princess Boy “is happy because [they] love him for who he is” (p. 24). She truthfully declares, “My Princess Boy is your Princess Boy” (p. 25-26). In this final line of the story, she emphasizes the responsibility of each of us to encourage and nurture a child’s individualism and uniqueness.

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