Internationalisation of the Curriculum

Experiences of internationalising learning and teaching was the subject of an excellent Continuing Professional Development (CPD) session hosted by the Centre for Lifelong Learning and delivered by Olivier Sykes, Urmila Jha-Thakur and Karen Potter from the Civic Design/Urban Planning department. Their work on their ‘International Planning Studies’ module has been recognised by the Association of European Schools of Planning by the award of the ‘Excellence in Teaching Prize’ 2014.

The session was titled Educating ‘world professionals’? – Experiences of internationalisation in the field of urban planning education at Liverpool, and centred on:

  • ‘A Journey through Internationalisation from learner to teacher to researcher’
  • New module development
  • Underpinning concepts of internationalisation and  ‘world professionals’
  • Reflections ‘from the chalk face’

Internationalisation of the Curriculum contributes to The University of Liverpool’s goals of providing students with the “ability to operate in culturally diverse contexts” and of “creating a distinctive and exciting learning environment for both international and UK students”.

The presention was a case study of internationalisation at The University of Liverpool with some useful learning that could be applied in other areas and of course some key questions remain…

Notable nuggets of information:

  • Civic design has been taught at Liverpool since 1909 and now involves collaboration with the Urban Planning and Design department at XJTLU;
  • Currently British universities are host to the second highest number of international students in the world;
  • The proportionality of international students in the student body in UK higher education is also the second highest globally (Walker, 2014).

Context dependency is a key issue driving internationalisation of the curriculum, so that planning approaches developed in one context (usually Western) are not be imposed uncritically in other and very different contexts. While the purposes, tasks and types of tools might be common, the form these take will always be shaped by the social and cultural norms of particular places (UN HABITAT 2009, Global Report on Human Settlements).

‘Weak internationalisation’ was the term used to describe the earlier course:

  • Lack of context setting in classes
  • Restricted use of local/national examples and jargons
  • Coping with new accents/context/other issues
  • Lack of critical mass (of international students)

Emerging good practice was shown in the redeveloped course:

  • Interactive classes to help make the most of the experiences of all students
  • Identifying advantages for home students
  • Aligning teaching in accordance with students’ skill requirements
  • Emerging new roles – XJTLU link coordinator

New module aims are internationally focused e.g. understanding of how:

  • the process of European integration is shaping the spatial planning policies and practices in individual nation states
  • principles and practices of planning in other global regions (e.g. Africa; Asia; America); current global planning challenges and how these are addressed in different systems.

Conclusion:

  • We are encouraging teaching innovation, home and international colleagues coming together, commencing ‘action research’, locating new teaching practices, research and ‘reflections’ within the conceptual framework of internationalisation and wider policy debate
  • Collaborative working and sharing complementary expertise is invaluable
  • Ultimately the research/expertise and teaching and learning interface is important in delivering Internationalisation of the curriculum

But… some key questions remain:

  • Everybody says they want internationalisation, but how can it really be made to happen?
  • What resources are we prepared to put in to make it happen?