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Title:Globalization and study abroad: Challenges to increasing study abroad destinations to Sub-Saharan Africa
Author(s):Akinrinola, Ademola
Subject(s):Study Abroad
Sub-Saharan Africa
Geographic Coverage:Sub-Saharan Africa
Abstract:In this presentation, I look at why few U.S study abroad programs take undergraduate students to Sub-Saharan African countries. According to the 2017 Institute of International Education’s Open Doors report, 325,339 U.S. students studied abroad in the 2015/2016 academic year. From this number, only 12,738 (3.9%) studied abroad in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding North African countries). Disaggregating this data reveals that of this 12,738 students, South Africa alone received 5,782 students. Globalization, is one of the greatest forces that has shaped human history, particularly in the last two decades. The “pervasiveness” of globalization cuts across economic, political, and sociocultural lines. More than ever before, the glocal (global-local) landscape is increasingly changing as actors interface across geographic spheres. As it is characteristics of any change, there are winners and losers. Therefore, actors within the space of globalization strive to position themselves in ways that increase their competitive advantage to maximize the gains/opportunities provided by globalization. Against this backdrop, the higher education sector has witnessed increasing calls and efforts to respond to globalization (Rumbley, Altbach, & Reisberg, 2012, p. 2). As organizations leverage on globalization to expand the scope of their business operations, from serving diverse customer base to being operational in other parts of the world, employers have expressed growing interests to staff employees who possess intercultural awareness and competence. The culminating effect of this expressed need in the labor force is one of the reasons stakeholders of higher education have identified and continue to aspire towards internationalization “as a strategic objective essential to the relevance, dynamism, and sustainability of the world’s 21st-century institutions and systems of higher education” (Rumbley et al., 2012). One major way postsecondary institutions carryout internationalization efforts is through study abroad programs offered (mainly) to undergraduate students. In this presentation, I argue that the major challenge to increasing study abroad destinations to sub-Saharan Africa lies in the narratives and discourses perpetrated about the continent. One of the protracted issues that has characterized the “North”-“South” (or “Rich”-“Poor” countries) dialogical relations is how the perpetuation of Western narratives about the South has exacerbated its intellectual and ideological exploitation. Descriptors such as “poor,” “third-world,” “underdeveloped,” “emerging,” among others, are ascribed as labels to nations of the South. “The negative portrayal of Africa in the American media and education system is largely responsible” (Onyenekwu, 2016, p. 93) for why fewer U.S. study abroad programs take students to Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa. Images are powerful. As tools, they shape and transmit—many times with mild subtlety—the values and perspectives of the designer. Portraying Africa as a land of diseases, sicknesses, and primitive culture, rife with wars/crises, kidnappings and abductions, feed a deficit perspective about the continent. Such portrayal makes it difficult for parents/guardians to allow their children study abroad in Africa. To combat this challenge, I suggest that more efforts be devoted to promoting counter-narratives that center Africa’s beauty, richness, intellectual sophistication, and ageless accomplishments in retelling the African story.
Issue Date:2018-03-09
Citation Info:Akinrinola, A. (2018). Globalization and Study Abroad: Challenges to Increasing Study Abroad Destinations to Sub-Saharan Africa. Presented at the 9th College of Education Graduate Student Conference, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Mar 9, 2018
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-08-02

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