What an opportune time to be the Associate Dean International (Education). If ever there was a time for imagination and innovation, this is it. Thinking outside the box is one thing, getting out of the box during a global pandemic is another!
Can we internationalise while we are localised? What should internationalisation look like in a time of limited mobility? How do we provide both inbound and outbound students with the opportunities to learn the knowledge and skills they can no longer obtain from studying abroad?
In fact, the concept of internationalisation at home was developed in the 1990s. It refers to an understanding of internationalisation that went beyond mobility with a strong emphasis on teaching and learning in a culturally diverse setting. In times of global restrictions, could this be an opportunity to further embrace this concept into our institutional culture?
Developing such a culture for internationalisation begins by integrating international activity into core teaching, research, and community engagement. Internationalisation of the curriculum is an important step forward. Global health and intercultural competency are emerging as dominant approaches to internationalisation of the medical curriculum. Medical education needs to incorporate global learning outcomes, to provide students with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to respond to challenges of an increasingly globalized environment. Faculty colleagues have done great work to embed inter-cultural communication and culture diversity into the curriculum, and together we now have the potential to transform learning opportunities from outward mobility to the inclusion of internationally-oriented modules within our home programmes, which further enhance innovation and drive intercultural understanding. This work will be invaluable in our continuing pursuit of teaching and research with a focus on addressing global health needs.
Although the pandemic presents us with much uncertainty, for us all there is an opportunity to review and reflect on our past work and make plans for the future. Our Dean, Professor Diana Eccles, presented a new vision of our future Faculty at the recent staff meeting and has invited us to contribute thoughts and ideas. I have been working closely with colleagues to explore exciting opportunities to diversify our Faculty’s international profile, including developing joint programmes with international partner medical schools, setting up an international summer school, opening up our intercalated programme internationally, and developing joint proposals with international partners, as well as creating more outward looking opportunities for our staff and home students in the future.
It is important to provide solidarity and support to all our international staff and students. I am incredibly proud of the international collaborative efforts our colleagues have been engaged with, as well as the inspiring resilience of our international students have shown during these unusual times.
Remote communications have never been more crucial. We are still connected to the world, and, surprisingly, we may have been offered a rare opportunity to extend our reach further than we ever have before. The possibility of scheduling back-to-back meetings in Asia to Africa; and Europe to America has become the reality. Mobility is no longer an obstacle: we don’t need a flight to the other side of the world to achieve internationalisation; there is so much we can do here at home too, perhaps for now, it is time to think globally and act locally.