General Comments

Internationalising Geography in Higher Education: towards a conceptual framework

Comment from Received
Mick Healey 1 March 99
Gordon Clark 2 March 99
Sarah Bednarz 4 March 99
Iain Hay 5 March 99
Geoff Robinson 11 March 99
Ken Foote 12 March 99
Ken Foote 12 March 99
Parvati Raghuram 15 March 99
David Higgitt 16 March 99
Karen Nairn 17 March 99

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Mick Healey, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, UK

When I asked Jan, Ifan and Joos to prepare a discussion paper for the Symposium on 'Internationalising Geography in Higher Education' I knew they would produce a thought provoking piece. They have greatly exceeded my expectations (and I'm not just referring to the length!). I think they have produced probably the most important paper that we need to discuss, because the issues raised are fundamental to what we are trying to do, how we go about it and where we should be aiming.

I have two contrasting initial reactions to a quick first read, which I share to help get the discussion going.

  1. As I read the paper I found myself agreeing with most of the convictions behind the points made; for example, that any network we establish should be inclusive and designed and run on the principles of equity, equality and openness.
  2. On the other hand, I began to think about some of the practicalities of implementation and wondered how long it would take us to get something off the ground if we tried to respond to all the issues raised at once. The case studies appended provide some fascinating examples which should help guide us, although few, if any of them, meet all the points raised in the paper.
My gut reaction is that if we decide we want to establish an International Network for Learning and Teaching (INLT) in Geography in Higher Education, as is proposed in the first paper (Hay, et al., 1999), we should 'start small and aim big'. I think it is essential that as an outcome from the meeting we should have some agreed action points and a mechanism for taking them forward. Otherwise we shall have lost the momentum provided by the debate and the Symposium. However, it is just as important that the direction in which we want to develop should take-on board many of the issues raised by Shepherd et al. (1999).

So how should we respond to the points made by Shepherd et al. (1999)? What should the outcome be from the Hawaii Symposium? How should the INLT develop?

I shall need to read the paper again. In the meantime thanks very much Ifan, Jan and Joos for setting out the challenges we need to face so clearly and for providing the examples which bring the issues alive.

Mick Healey
GEMRU, Cheltenham & Gloucester College of Higher Education, Francis Close Hall, Swindon Road, Cheltenham, GL50 4AZ, UK
Tel. +44 (0)1242 543364; Fax +44 (0)1242 532997; Email



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Gordon Clark, Lancaster University, UK

Shepherd, Monk and Fortuijn have written a very thought-provoking paper. It is worth noting that the considerable literature on managing educational change (e.g. the evaluation of the UK's Enterprise in Higher Education scheme) and the literature on community development both suggest that, to get a new idea off the ground, there a few guidelines which are more likely to lead to success than not:

Hope this helps. Good luck.

Gordon Clark
Department of Geography, Lancaster University, Lancaster LA1 4YB
Tel. +44(0)1524 593740; Fax +44(0)1524 847099; E-mail



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Sarah Bednarz, Texas A&M University, USA

I quite enjoyed reading this rich and well-researched paper. It provides a wide range of issues for the group to consider. It establishes the boundaries of this endeavour very broadly by bringing in elements that I, for one, would not have considered but which appear significant. Clearly, the key is Section 6, Motivation. Why do this? How will this benefit geography? I look forward to an exciting conversation on just this topic. I don't share the rather cynical viewpoint that the people who will benefit from this most are the participants, "who stand to benefit because of the higher profile and kudos they will achieve." And placing students as the primary beneficiaries seems a little too pat and "pollyanna"-like. Different geographers will participate and benefit differently for individual reasons. We need to devise a network that allows all geographers (students and professionals) to enter, participate, and gain value. Products we could focus on developing (and I think we need to adhere to the ideas suggested by Clark and pick one or two small projects to grow the organization) are gleaned from Monk's and Fortuijn's case studies:

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