European Journal of Language Policy

Aligning glocal agendas for international education

Using English-medium education to enhance quality education

European Journal of Language Policy (2021), 13, (2), 223–237.

Abstract

In recent years, there has been growing interest amongst universities around the world on reflecting upon the contribution of higher education to a global society and exploring ways to broaden the curriculum to enable students to make a meaningful contribution to the world (de Wit et al. 2015). This paper will suggest that Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are at the centre of centripetal forces behind global and local agendas, as well as at the centre of centrifugal forces behind English-Medium Education (EME) that have provided friction favourable to enhancing the quality of education and initiate curricular reform at Karolinska Institutet (KI).

At the global level, quality education has been defined by the United Nations through the universally adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be one that purposefully includes inclusion, global citizenship, appreciation of cultural diversity and culture’s contribution to sustainable development (UNESCO 2017). Nationally, the Swedish Ministry of Education’s internationalisation inquiry (Bladh et al. 2018) specifically links internationalisation to quality and to the integration of international understanding and intercultural competence in the curriculum. Locally, this has created conditions favourable for HEIs to align new strategic plans with this understanding of quality, bringing internationalisation to the forefront of their education programmes.

At the same time, the introduction of EME in HE has acted as a catalyst for transforming pedagogy to support the acquisition of twenty-first-century skills (Coyle 2013; Dafouz and Smit 2020; Valcke and Wilkinson 2017). The question of language in HE, in combination with the necessary adaptation to global agendas, has thus led university teachers to consider the pedagogical, linguistic and cultural implications of their practices as they have never done before. Focusing on KI as a case in point, this paper attempts to address what the convergence of policies, from the global to the local, with classroom practices means for developing quality EME at university.

Under de senaste åren har intresset bland universitet runt om i världen ökat för att reflektera över hur högre utbildning bidrar till ett globalt samhälle och utforskat sätt att bredda utbildningsplaner för att möjliggöra för studenter att bidra på ett meningsfullt sätt till samhället (de Wit et al., 2015). Den här artikeln föreslår att institutioner för högre utbildning är i centrum för två samtida krafter: dels en centripetalkraft via globala och lokala strategier, dels en centrifugalkraft via undervisning på engelska (English-medium education, EME). Friktionen som mötet mellan dessa två krafter ger upphov till är gynnsam för att förbättra kvaliteten på utbildningen och initiera utbildningsreform, vilket diskuteras med ett exempel från Karolinska Institutet (KI).

På global nivå har kvalitet inom utbildningen definierats av FN genom de globalt antagna mål för hållbar utveckling (SDG), som tydligt innefattar inkludering, globalt medborgarskap, uppskattning av kulturell mångfald och kulturens bidrag till hållbar utveckling (UNESCO, 2017). På ett nationellt plan kopplar det svenska utbildningsministeriets internationaliseringsutredning (Bladh, Wilenius och Gaunt, 2018) specifikt internationalisering till kvalitet och till integrationen av internationell förståelse och interkulturell kompetens i utbildningsplanen. På ett lokalt plan har detta skapat förutsättningar för lärosäten att anpassa nya strategiska planer till detta perspektiv på kvalitet, vilket gör att internationaliseringen ligger i framkant av deras utbildningsprogram.

Samtidigt har introduktionen av EME i högre utbildning fungerat som en katalysator för att förnya pedagogiken så att den bättre främjar inlärning av och övning i de färdigheter och nyckelkompetenser som dagens samhälle kräver (Coyle, 2013; Dafouz och Smit, 2020; Valcke och Wilkinson, 2017). Frågan om språk i högre utbildning, i kombination med den nödvändiga anpassningen till globala agendor, har således fått universitetslärare att överväga de pedagogiska, språkliga och kulturella konsekvenserna av deras praxis som de aldrig tidigare har gjort. Med fokus på KI som ett exempel på detta försöker denna artikel att ta itu med vad konvergensen av politiken, från det globala till det lokala, med klassrumspraxis innebär för att utveckla kvalitet i EME vid universiteten.

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