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

Article


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.
Article Title

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

ERA Journal ID211041
Article CategoryArticle
AuthorsPalmer, Jane (Author) and Carter, Jennifer (Author)
Journal TitleKnowledge Cultures
Journal Citation2 (4), pp. 25-48
Number of Pages24
Year2014
Place of PublicationUnited States
ISSN2327-5731
2375-6527
Abstract

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.

Keywordsinterdisciplinarity, political economy of higher education, knowledge cultures
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020390107. Humanities and social sciences curriculum and pedagogy (excl. economics, business and management)
470212. Multicultural, intercultural and cross-cultural studies
390401. Comparative and cross-cultural education
449999. Other human society not elsewhere classified
470210. Globalisation and culture
440699. Human geography not elsewhere classified
Public Notes

File reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher/author.

Byline AffiliationsUniversity of the Sunshine Coast
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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