Guest Blog Post: Charting the Unique Pathways Community Colleges Have For Education Abroad by Rosalind Latiner Raby (CSU Northridge)

By Shanna Saubert posted 28 days ago

This guest blog post was written by Rosalind Latiner Raby (California State University - Northridge) and Gregory F. Malveaux (Montgomery Community College), with reference to their book:
Malveaux, Gregory F., and Rosalind Latiner Raby. 2019. Study Abroad Opportunities for Community College Students and Strategies for Global Learning. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
*The post includes several questions and prompts which are underlined to elicit further discussion via comments.

Charting the Unique Pathways Community Colleges Have For Education Abroad

Multiple generations of community college leaders have argued that internationalization is an inherent component of community colleges that advances student knowledge, facilitates student success, and serves the needs of local communities (Gleazer 1975; Hess 1982; Boggs and Irwin 2009; Raby and Valeau 2016). For those students who transfer, there is an opportunity to have international experiences at the university. The rest, who choose to enroll in terminal educational programs, can only gain international educational experiences while at the community college (Raby 1996).

A prevailing belief is that education abroad practices are the same for all institutional types. Our new book, Study Abroad Opportunities for Community College Students and Strategies for Global Learning, addresses a gap in the literature by unpacking central themes and debates that show that community colleges have unique pathways that apply to education abroad.  In this book, we make a key point that reform is not based on chance, but on intentional designs created to guide comprehensive reform efforts. The various chapters explore specific unique characteristics, a summary of which is outlined below. This blog post aims to do two things. First to provide examples of what makes community college education abroad unique. Second to build upon this list from best practices shared from community colleges around the world.

Examples of What Makes Community College Education Abroad Unique

Community colleges have many features that are unique and that set it apart from university education abroad. First and foremost, community colleges have low to free tuition based on a mission of open access that favors access over selectivity. This section shares examples within the community college construct that are unique to higher education.

Student Populations. Community colleges serve students who reside within the surrounding geographical area. As such, a wide range of students attend community colleges including adults, first-generation, and non-traditional students in terms of race, ethnicity, and economic diversity. The chapter by Raby explores the diversity of students who study abroad, while the chapters by Thomas and Fell and Wright explore how small rural community colleges are experiencing success with education abroad.

Multiple Missions. Community colleges have multiple missions, educational programs, and certificates and degrees, including the practical baccalaureate degree. Community colleges have also adopted guided pathway programs and stackable credentials that include highly defined sequences help to accommodate certification requirements for academic, career, technical, and workforce education. Finally, an emphasis on performance funding now links student learning outcomes and assessment to college funding with an emphasis on accountability and transparency. McKee's chapter shares examples from Career and Technical Programs, while the chapter by Woods shares how education abroad connects to mandated Student Success Models.

Unique Characteristics That Impact Education Abroad

Lack of Research. While universities have abundant literature on university efforts in education abroad, this is only one book devoted to community college education abroad. That said, there are numerous articles and dissertations on the topic. In an effort to build a reference for the field, please add any articles, chapters, or dissertations on community college education abroad as comments to this blog post.

Institutional Support. Universities broadly support education abroad. The same is not true for community colleges where infusing education abroad as an important component of the curriculum competes with decreased state and federal funding and an increasing pressure to prepare students for immediate employment. Several authors in the book share the steps their colleges have used to institutionalize education abroad: Carola Smith at Santa Barbara City College; Tangpricha at Delaware Technical Community College; and Gephard at Peralta Community College District. What unique steps have your districts taken to institutionalize education abroad?

Admissions and Access to Education Abroad. The university junior year abroad can be highly restrictive and shorter programs still often have limitations in terms of class standing, GPA, and educational program. Community colleges are based on the open access mission in which no student is denied access to college education or to educational programs such as studying abroad. This results in minimal admission requirements (often with a benchmark GPA at 2.0 or lower) to accommodate for the open access mission. There is also a broad definition of who can even be a "study abroad student" that spans concurrently enrolled high school students, adults, senior adults, and community members. What practices does your district do to support open access through education abroad?

Institutional Structure. Most universities have a dedicated office and working budget for education abroad. Some even have large staffing to address a range of needs and a budget allocated for professional development. By contrast, community colleges rarely have a dedicated office for education abroad; staffing is mostly faculty on release time, and there is a limited budget for professional development. This impacts knowledge of standards in the field as shown by C. Smith and Hubbard and risk management knowledge as shown by Malveaux, Rhodes, and Raby. It also expands the role of consortia as shown by Malveaux and by Kreitinger and Corsi. Nonetheless, as Baer illustrates, community colleges still offer a range of programs throughout the world. Does your district support an office and full-time staff devoted to education abroad?

Recruitment, Placement, and Timing. Universities work with a defined student population and have set times for program enrollment. However, community colleges work with both an existing student population and with community members. Times for program enrollment are fluid as recruitment takes longer to accommodate for student needs including getting time off from work, saving money, and outreach. Enhancing student participation and choices of where to study are expanded upon in chapters by Whatley, Robertson, DeWit and Furst, and Amani. What other practices are done by your district to learn about student interests?

Specialized Program Emphasis. Community college education abroad has always been multi-disciplinary. New emphasis links education abroad programs to attentiveness to environmental impact and mutuality. Chapters by Viggiano explore the role of social justice through education abroad while David Smith provides examples of peacebuilding and humanitarian education. What new trends is your district including in future education abroad programs?

Faculty Hiring.  Community colleges have minimum qualifications for faculty hiring that adhere to state and federal hiring regulations, and national enrollment and funding declines. This impacts faculty who are hired to teach abroad. Please share how this impacts your district.

It is our intent to use this blog post to Share Best Practices from community colleges around the United States and from around the world. Please comment below with any responses to the prompts provided or to note additional resources related to education abroad for community colleges.