Working in the border zone: developing cultural competence in higher education for a globalized world

Palmer, Jane and Carter, Jennifer (2014) Working in the border zone: developing cultural competence in higher education for a globalized world. Knowledge Cultures, 2 (4). pp. 25-48. ISSN 2327-5731

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In this chapter we examine the tension between the educational needs of a globalized world and the institutional structures of a globalized education system. The globalized education system encompasses market-driven funding arrangements for both research and teaching in higher education, which depend on international ratings systems structured around traditional discipline areas. The development of these competitive market structures has resulted in the removal by institutions of 'unsuccessful' disciplines, and a risk-averse approach to cross-disciplinary, problem-focused research and curricula.
One of the most important consequences of this discipline-based education system is a missed opportunity to encourage reflexive thinking about discipline-based normative assumptions and world views. An advantage of interdisciplinary work is that it casts new light on the practitioner’s own discipline, as well as enabling a critique of assumptions in other disciplines. A reflexive and critical approach to disciplinary knowledge is, we propose, one of the conditions necessary for cultural competence in both researchers and students. Yet just as it is now argued that the globalized world needs graduates who are culturally competent - cross-culturally aware, reflexive, engaged with community in messy non-discipline-specific problems, able to critique and integrate information from many knowledge sources and work collaboratively – the competitive global education system increasingly marginalizes the cultural and structural contexts which foster such cultural competence.
We provide two case studies in Indigenous Australia and the Pacific: both involve students and demonstrate the special quality and value of cultural competence and its connection with work across, and beyond, academic disciplines. We conclude that, while the political economy of the globalized education system is largely inimical to interdisciplinary work and the development of cultural competence, catalysing and supporting these processes is the responsibility of higher education institutions in a globalized world.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Resilient Regions
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2016 05:23
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2017 07:02
Uncontrolled Keywords: interdisciplinarity, political economy of higher education, knowledge cultures
Fields of Research (2008): 13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130205 Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Economics, Business and Management)
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200209 Multicultural, Intercultural and Cross-cultural Studies
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130302 Comparative and Cross-Cultural Education
16 Studies in Human Society > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
20 Language, Communication and Culture > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200206 Globalisation and Culture
16 Studies in Human Society > 1604 Human Geography > 160403 Social and Cultural Geography
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930501 Education and Training Systems Policies and Development
C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education
C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9399 Other Education and Training > 939902 Education and Training Theory and Methodology

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