posted on November 05, 2012 11:45
Book by Pamela L. Eddy
Review by Virginia Anderson
Assistant Professor of Theatre
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Pamela Eddy, editor of International Collaborations, acknowledges not benevolence and philanthropy as driving forces behind such endeavors, but the fact that “current external pressures on U.S. colleges and university now encourage U.S. institutions to investigate and pursue international partnerships as a way to increase revenues and to support curriculum for student skill development of global competencies” (3). “The world is getting smaller,” she states (3), and the definition of global education – and the identity of those who partake in it – changes rapidly.
Eddy targets her collection of essays toward educational practitioners considering undertaking international partnerships. She provides a useful framework for the analysis of differing forms and styles of collaborations, introducing the challenges wrought by assumptions and intrinsic power dynamics. The first of three sections identifies key themes and frequently used terms in current international education, briefly focusing on the various roles played by each participant and the supports and challenges he or she may encounter. The second part provides a series of cases studies to illustrate the issues laid out earlier in the collection. The final section, by far the most thorough, analyzes the roles of administrators, faculty, and students and the effect of international partnership on each. Due attention is paid to a changing technological world that forces students and administrators alike to inhabit multiple spaces simultaneously.
While gesturing toward the potential for serious intercultural conflict, the book sometimes, problematically, sidesteps detailed analysis. Each chapter begins with a brief summary, such as “A key step in the partnership process with cross-border coalitions involves addressing contradictory dynamics and creating a shared sense of understanding” (7). Considering the stakes, the material that follows such an important point sometimes only skims the surface of the social, political, and economic implications that both motivate and severely affect cross-border collaboration. For example, Dan Holland’s “Notes from the Field” (Chapter 3) intriguingly addresses a collaboration between a community college in Canada with a partner in China, but descriptions and implications of the inherent cultural challenges are so brief as to minimize their significance. Yiyun Jie, however, provides a thought-provoking and well-written essay applying game theory to another Chinese partnership, this time with the United States (Chapter 4). Elizabeth Brewer, offers valuable points of consideration for those working in liberal arts colleges and her chapter stands alone in its full synthesis of the book’s themes. It includes yet another case study concerning China, making the book particularly valuable for those considering such a partnership.
Eddy’s collection provides those early in their consideration of such partnerships with a foundation from which to develop questions unique to their collaboration. Those endeavoring to partner with African or Eastern European countries may find aspects of its discussion of institutional challenges useful, but International Collaborations is to be read in tandem with other cultural manuals to maximize true partnering based on respect and understanding.
International collaborations: Opportunities, strategies, challenges (New directions for higher education #150). Book by Pamela L. Eddy (Ed.) Review by Virginia Anderson. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. $29.00 112 pp. ISBN 978-0-470-77029-0