Current Research Initiatives

Applying a Relational Cosmopolitan Lens to Intercultural Learning in EAP

Through classroom observation and administrator/teacher/student interviews, my current research illuminates how a cross-cultural learning environment in a western post-secondary English for Academic Purposes (EAP) program, prepares students from diverse backgrounds to be global citizens with intercultural sensibilities that engage new ways of understanding the world in relationship with others. This project enhances understandings of how intercultural learning is both conceptualized and actually supported in a cross-cultural learning environment. The objectives are to: first, identify how spaces of cross-cultural encounter facilitate intercultural learning; second, to clarify how spaces of cross-cultural encounter nurture and develop the intercultural sensibilities necessary to understand foreign learning expectations; and third, to shed light on how spaces of cross-cultural encounter prepare students to take full advantage of the growth opportunities for personal and professional growth in cross-cultural learning experiences.

James BudrowDuring the past 16 years James Budrow has taught English Second Language in South Korea and China and English for Academic Purposes in Canada. He is currently in the second year of his Master of Arts in Education Studies program at Western University and is planning to start his PhD in Education Studies at Western University in the fall of 2015.


Canadian Teachers Out in the World: Adapting Teacher Education for Transnational Times

Under heightened globalization, there are increasing numbers of Canadian teachers working in schools with a trans-national character both inside and outside of Canada. In this sense, the world is both 'out' beyond Canada's political borders but also inside the country in international, first nation and diverse urban schools supporting, for example, children of immigrants and refugees. Many of these transnational contexts are the very places where beginning teachers are likely to find teaching positions. Teacher Education has begun to respond to the global context of teaching opportunities and to the shifting character of social difference requiring adaptations to multicultural educational frameworks. This study examines how teacher education is internationalizing to better prepare beginning teachers for the increasing transnational character of schooling in a global era.

Paul Tarc, Ph.D.Paul Tarc is Assistant Professor in Western’s Faculty of Education. His main research interests in progressive and critical modes of education articulated through “post”-informed theories of globalization, representation, subjectivity and pedagogy.


Educational Policy Development under Globalization: The Case of Professional Standards for Principals in China

There is a trend of worldwide similarity in educational policy of modernizing nation-states. In such a policy convergence, there is increasing attention to the development of policies aimed at regulating and standardizing principals’ practice in China. This research examines the enactment of Professional Standards for Compulsory Schools Principals (PSCSP) (Ministry of Education, 2012) in China through the lens of educational transfer and policy networks and webs. Particularly, the major actors and their interactions that influence the formation and implementation of PSCSP are investigated.

Wei WeiWei Wei is a Ph. D. student in Western’s Faculty of Education under the supervision of Dr. Paul Tarc and Dr. Marianne Larsen. She is interested in critical policy analysis, especially in educational transfer and education policies in transnational times.


Exploring digital technologies as a means to develop critical language and intercultural awareness

This pilot study proposes a one-year sociolinguistic research study, focusing on the use of digital technologies as a means to bring about the development of critical awareness for a group of multilingual student teachers participating in courses designed to support English language learners in a teacher education program. The students range in ages from 22-40 years old, and are representative of diverse linguistic, social, and geographical backgrounds. This study is investigative and empirical, as it aims to support the global demand for required diversity training of all those who wish to become future teachers in Ontario. In doing so, the study centers on the experiences of multilingual student teachers participating in a B.Ed. course on English language learners with digital technologies related to the development of critical awareness (self awareness; reflexivity). The objectives of this research are to put forth new ways of thinking about languages and identities as regards learning and teaching English (e.g. language arts) within multicultural classrooms across the globe. Drawing upon an ethnographic approach, which incorporates performed ethnography, and a multi-modal discourse analysis of the use of digital texts I will examine the possibilities and limits of using digital technologies in relation to the development of critical awareness for future language teachers. This study will have important implications for educational policy and future curriculum for language education as the results may lead to changing the ways we look at teaching languages and additionally, the ways in which we look at multilingualism and multiculturalism.

Dr. Julie Byrd ClarkDr. Julie Byrd Clark is an Associate Professor of Applied linguistics and Intercultural Education at the Faculty of Education. She specializes in critical and interdisciplinary approaches to language and intercultural education as relates to globalization, digital technologies, academic mobility, and the construction of identity and otherness. As an ethnographer and sociolinguist, she uses innovative research methodologies in order to capture some of the complexities and representations of people’s social and linguistic practices in their everyday lives. Her work centers around the construction of difference in educational contexts (both urban and rural), made visible and audible through language. Recent publications include: Reflexivity in language and intercultural education: Rethinking multilingualism and interculturality (2014, Routledge co-edited with Dervin) and has likewise published widely in many international journals. Byrd Clark serves as co-Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Bias, Identity, and Diversities and has led several Canadian government funded ethnographic projects on the impact of ideologies and representations on issues of access and equity surrounding linguistic rights, minority language education, citizenship, study abroad experiences, the power of engagement and engaged learning as concerns social transformation, the inclusion of everyday practices in the classroom, and the integration of youth from diverse social backgrounds/realities into a pluralistic, democratic society.


International Service Learning: Engaging Host Communities

Increasing numbers of students from the Global North are participating in international service-learning programs with the aim to become global citizens. We know a lot about what those students gain in terms of skills, knowledge and aptitudes, but what about the communities that host them? What do they gain, if anything at all, from having these students live in their communities for extended periods of time? What are the implications for these communities who host foreign students, year after year?

This project consists of a book, edited by Marianne A. Larsen, entitled International Service Learning: Engaging Host Communities, which is due to be published by Routledge in late 2015. Authors in the book, including Larsen herself, draw upon post-colonial, feminist and other critical theories to interrogate the power relations between primarily white, English-speaking students and the individuals they engage with in Global South countries where the students travel to serve. The epistemological and methodological challenges in carrying out research on the impact of experiential education programs on host communities are also addressed in this book. Most significantly, this book fills an essential gap in the ISL literature by bringing in the voices of those in Global South communities who are hosting more and more students from other countries each year. We recognize that without them, these programs would not exist. Finally, authors point to the importance of understanding what it means to develop relations between North American students and faculty, and individuals in the host communities, based on the guiding principles of reciprocity, mutuality and interdependence that challenge existing paternalistic binaries between the server and the served.

Marianne LarsenDr. Larsen's areas of teaching and research include comparative and international education; teachers and teaching, sociology of education, education policy, and social studies education, especially global citizenship education. Her current research is focused on global citizenship in higher education. She is currently working on a couple of research projects on international service learning to understand if and how these experiences shape university students as global citizens.


Networks of Internationalization in Higher Education: Understanding National Policies in Local Contexts

While internationalization is at the fore of university strategic plans on a global scale, policy actors outside higher education have increasing interests in the internationalization of higher education. Under the influence of neoliberalism, global capital is heavily invested in universities from both national governments and private industries to enhance competition in the knowledge economy. Consequently, internationalization is governed in the relations between global, national and local actors.

Using a relational approach to policy analysis, this study examines the emerging relations between the Canadian federal government plan for international education and university strategic plans for internationalization. This research aims to develop understandings of these relations by studying networks that emerge when different actors interact with policy. Here, policy is a powerful tool as it is enacted in organizational settings. Policy is political; it has agency, creating links between institutions, technologies and discourses (Shore & Wright, 2011).

Three doctoral graduate students are engaged in various capacities in this research: Vi Vo, Clara I. Tascón, and Rashed Al-Haque.

Melody ViczkoMelody Viczko is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at Western University. Her research reflects broad interests in the areas of educational policy analysis and multi-scalar governance. Melody engages qualitative approaches to research with a fascination for studying how actors assemble around policies and how policies are enacted through these assemblages. Within these parameters, she is interested in exploring issues of internationalization, democratic governance, gender, and social justice.