Global Dialogue on higher education attracts virtual international audience

York University partnered with India’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University in New Delhi to host the second Global Dialogue on Ethics and Internationalizing Higher Education.

The first dialogue was held at JMI in November 2015, where debates centred around neo-liberalism, internationalization of the curricula, and the complexities of North-South partnerships.

The June 8 event at York University attracted academics from around the world, some of whom participated by live, two-way video link using York’s pioneering trial of Zoom conferencing technology.

Narda Razack
Narda Razack

The Global Dialogue was held at the School of Social Work and was organized by principal investigator Professor Narda Razack, associate dean Global Community Engagement in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, along with Social Work Professors Soma Chatterjee, Anne O’Connell, Harjeet Badwall and graduate student Vanessa Junior. The co-investigator Professor S. M. Sajid and collaborators Professors Rashmi Jain and Naimatullah Khan travelled to York University and presented at the dialogue and evaluation meetings.

The conference’s themes addressed ethics, indigenizing versus globalizing, inequality and power imbalances, and the politics of internationalizing the University. It also focused on internationalizing social work curricula and the ways in which the curricula can best prepare future practitioners to face the challenges of a globalized and transnational era.

The themes were introduced by the co-leads and ended with discussants. Presenters represented York University (social work, geography), JMI, the University of Toronto, University of Victoria (via Zoom) and Loyola University (via Zoom).

“Universities are increasingly demonstrating commitment to internationalization by including specific policies, practices and initiatives to respond to the realities of globalization,” said Razack, who is also a professor in York’s School of Social Work. Some of these initiatives relate to recruiting international students, developing collaborative networks with other universities through Memorandums of Understanding, setting up partner institutions and branch campuses and seeking myriad ways to have students graduate with some form of international experience through study abroad programs.”

However, she continued, there are systemic inequalities underpinning internationalizing education, including the continued exportation of Western knowledge, English becoming the dominant language of instruction and research, lack of reciprocity in exchanges, and collaborations with many countries becoming more dependent on those with more power to produce and distribute knowledge.

global dialogue group“This project sought to ensure that we are vigilant in our own collaboration and be open to critiquing the process as challenges arise,” she said.

In response to internationalizing the curricula, Sajid said “The important question is: Who controls decision making? The content of curricula offered to social work students cannot be oblivious to what is happening in the world. Students cannot afford to be oblivious to a society that produces and consumes wealth and the question of who is globally responsible for it.”

The varied perspectives on indigenization and decolonization – from the local to the global – included analysis of geo-political contexts and spaces, colonial structures, socio-economic realities and cultural awareness.

Professor Teresa Macías cautiously reminded “to understand decolonization and indigenization there needs to be an understanding of the material conditions of knowledge production and how the capitalist system influences those conditions.”

Mehmoona Moosa-Mitha (UVic) said that we need to treat indigenous not as a local issue, but as a “global” issue.

JMI Professor S. Sajid
JMI Professor S. Sajid

Jain (JMI), in her discussion on the Indian context, felt there is a need for flexibility and fluidity in the process.

“Indigenization as a process is trying to address issues affecting different sects of the population,” she said. “It needs to be looked at within a de-colonial perspective to examine how to work and intervene in the daily practices of peoples lives.”

The team from York University and JMI will collaborate on a journal article and conference presentations at the upcoming International Social Work conference at JMI. The two institutions will also work on creating a grant to expand the dialogue to include colleagues from other parts of the world.

This research was funded by a collaboration grant from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies.