Community College Internationalization: The Intentional Integration of Cultural Perspectives into the Student Experience

Andrea Lynch, University of Pennsylvania


Demographic studies indicate that the US is experiencing an ethnic “sweep of diversity” due to immigration and migration patterns of the 1980s and 1990s (Frey, 2002; Frey, 2018a). Colleges react with internationalization efforts, described by Knight (1997) as higher education’s response to the flow of “technology, economy, knowledge, people, values, and ideas” into the US (p. 6). Additionally, employers are calling on colleges and universities to develop students who can effectively communicate in a multicultural workplace (AACC & ACCT, 2006; Bok, 2006; Knight, 2012). Considering that two-year institutions enroll nearly half of all undergraduate students, this labor-market imperative, combined with the influx of a diverse student population, places an added burden on community colleges to develop the intercultural competence of students. Even though the American Council on Education (ACE), Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement (CIGE) model of internationalization is a widely used framework for comprehensive internationalization, it does not fully conceptualize the community college experience. The literature favors studies conducted at large, West Coast community colleges and those with an executive, strategic perspective on internationalization. This study interrogates how internationalization is occurring at three East Coast community colleges and how these community colleges are intentionally developing the intercultural competence of students from the practitioner’s perspective. A qualitative, semi-structured interview protocol examined the lived experiences of 32 community college faculty, staff, and administrators tasked with programmatic or curricular internationalization duties. A reconceptualization of internationalization for the community college emerged as the “intentional integration of cultural perspectives into the student experience.” Furthermore, the study identifies a new model for community college internationalization that links the institution’s commitment to internationalization and the development of a student’s intercultural competence into a practical framework.

Subject Area

Higher education|Multicultural Education|Community college education

Recommended Citation

Lynch, Andrea, "Community College Internationalization: The Intentional Integration of Cultural Perspectives into the Student Experience" (2020). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI27996811.