The coronavirus has temporarily shrunk our physical world from global to local. It has reshaped many things and forced us to adapt our working methods to prevailing conditions. Just as with teaching, guidance and team meetings, international connections at JYU are now handled remotely. This temporary pause drives us to review our work from a new perspective.
What is internationalisation as it is currently referred to in the university’s strategy?
On the surface, internationalisation seems challenging to realise without the traditional meters, namely the number of exchange students and international staff. But is it really so? We now have a great moment to consider what else than exchange and international mobility can be considered “international activity”. What competence that has traditionally been sought through mobility can be strengthened and supported without travelling physically from one place to another?
The work trips of JYU staff have been cancelled, yet our international cooperation continues. Many actions aiming to support internationalisation are ongoing, even though many students have had to interrupt their exchange and almost all exchange students have returned to their home countries earlier than expected.
Now we have a chance to think about the core of internationalisation. Is it primarily something else than several visits abroad?
At the Centre for Multilingual Academic Communication Movi, we think that the core of internationalisation consists of multilingual and intercultural competence, being different skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are needed because diversity and encountering diversity are an integral part of modern working life. The question is about a ‘world view’, where multilingual and intercultural competence and its development is seen as a lifelong process. This is what Moving Mindsets is about.
Movi’s project Multilingual and intercultural competences are at the heart of internationalisation aims to respond to the question of how internationalisation readiness can be supported in addition to exchange and international internships as part of studies at the home university. The aim is to create field-specific internationalisation competence targets and learning outcomes, which can be achieved in various ways. The project supports Movi’s mission to support internationalisation in line with the university’s strategy.
The core of the project is to create an internationalisation plan for each student in cooperation with the personal study plan supervisors. Based on the targets, the student recognises and knowingly builds competence needed in the diverse and multilingual world of work.
It is important that the student’s international experience, and further, field specific multilingual and intercultural competence is being recognised and made visible.
The plan is being piloted in cooperation with three faculties: JSBE, the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences, and the Faculty of Education and Psychology. The pilot phase will include about 200 students who will start making an internationalisation plan in autumn 2020. The pilot will be reviewed critically in spring 2021, and the following steps to expand the internationalisation plan to other faculties and departments will be based on the review.
Multilingual and intercultural competence can and should be developed via courses and other activities at the home university – also remotely. It is essential that students can consistently plan the learning of competence, e.g. skills, knowledge, and motivational factors behind their ‘internationalisation’. Further, it is important that the student will have an understanding of how to build up the competence and make it visible during studies.
The trip to international expertise is a life-long journey. The university’s task is to help students recognise routes on the map of internationalisation and offer tools to proceed along the routes and what you can learn on them.
Lotta Kokkonen (email@example.com) and Teija Natri (firstname.lastname@example.org)
the Centre for the Multilingual Academic Communication Movi
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