A cosmopolitan defence of international education

Fuller, Kirsty Jane (2021) A cosmopolitan defence of international education. Ed.D thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Set within the context of a rapidly expanding international school sector, this study raises a critical concern about the danger posed to the aspirational educational aims of international schools by the growing dominance of neoliberal influences in education, as reflected in the expression of marketable and measurable instrumental goals. I claim that despite having visible goals relating to global citizenship at its core, the aim of internationality is under threat as the ‘international’ becomes aligned with the ‘elite’. The consequence of this is the problematic and somewhat paradoxical contribution of international education to a growing global elite and increasing inequality. I seek to challenge this trend and offer an alternative, cosmopolitan interpretation of international education, which builds on existing possibilities to educate with a priority of cultivating humanity.

Primarily a conceptual study, this enquiry combines analytical and theoretical elements to reveal and clarify current expressions and understandings of internationality. Locating the study in Germany enables me to examine the role of international schools and the relationship between international and national education in a specific national context. Using critical literature review and document analysis, I expose and critically evaluate key understandings and critical themes arising from international education research, including globalisation, the internationalisation of education, and interpretations of central concepts such as global citizenship, as well as from the declared aims of international schools in Germany as shared in their mission and vision statements. Having identified cosmopolitan elements in the mission statements, I argue that cosmopolitan theory provides a strong and useful conceptual tool which can be used to underpin existing normative goals and enable a more ethically defensible vision for international education to be retrieved.

In defending a rooted, ethical cosmopolitan understanding of international education, I draw on theories of cosmopolitanism, mainly as articulated by Martha Nussbaum, also extending, and elaborating on the metaphor of concentric circles she uses to illustrate our location in the world relative to others in various communities of concern. I explicate the need for international schools to acknowledge and understand the responsibilities of their rootedness in their local, national, and global contexts. I further discuss understandings of the complex rootedness of students, drawing attention to the importance of an approach to international education which focuses on lived human experiences and the affiliations which give them meaning. In drawing the study to a conclusion, I reflect on a changing global context and how an alternative framing of international education may be able to help reclaim and support its aspirational goals as well as disrupt current, worrying trends. Finally, I consider practical implications for the international education sector of my cosmopolitan defence of international education.

Item Type: Thesis (Ed.D)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Cosmopolitanism, international education, Bildung, liberal education, neoliberalism, philosophical analysis, conceptual analysis, document analysis, Martha Nussbaum, cosmopolitan education, international schools, mission statements.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Enslin, Professor Penny
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82396
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Aug 2021 10:43
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2022 14:34
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82396
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/82396

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