Faculties of Education awakening to the need to prepare educators for international contexts

April 08, 2014

Paul Tarc

When I began my international school teaching in the early 1990s, I had little more than the slide show presented by the school director at the recruiting fair and a travel book on Ecuador as my ‘preparation’ for international school teaching. Times have definitely changed. The growth of international schools has spawned ever-greater demand for high quality international schoolteachers. In turn, more program options have begun to emerge.

Cropping up alongside a few longer-standing programs are new programs and specializations to prepare teacher candidates for teaching in international contexts. For example, some of my Canadian university counterparts are running specializations as ‘teaching abroad’ and ‘global education’ in their teacher education programs. In the U.S. and Canada some schools of education are also including international field placements or practice teaching placements toward developing ‘internationally-minded’ teachers (Cushner, 2007; Taraban et al., 2009). My Faculty of Education is also internationalizing our teacher education and graduate programs.

Given the increasing expectations and utility of a Master’s-level degree for international school teaching and leading, we have also launched a fully online Master of Professional Education degree in ‘International Education.’ Founded on the ‘Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’, the professional degrees offered at Western focus on actionable theory derived from and useful for “real-world” practice in both national and international contexts. Our first cohort of students in the ‘International Education’ MPEd started their program in September 2013. Thus far, the level of engagement has been exhilarating.

Western’s MPEd in ‘International Education’ is one new program oriented to the curious, holistic learner working or preparing to work in international/transnational educational contexts. The program aims to enhance the learner’s capacity to understand the larger conditions that generally shape international education and more specifically impact one’s domain of practice. A key vision of the program is to move to the next level in terms of one’s education for teaching internationally, which is not solely about how to adapt to and ‘fit in’ to an international school or transcultural context, but how to understand and co-contribute to the realization of international education’s progressive ideals in the context of one’s ‘international’ practice. This education involves (1) engaging conceptually with globalization, culture, identity, pedagogy and cosmopolitan literacies, (2) becoming a critical reader of ‘international education’ research and (3) developing skills in researching one’s own ‘domain of practice.’


Cushner, K. (2007). The role of experience in the making of internationally-minded teachers. Teacher Education Quarterly, Winter, 27-39.

Taraban, S., Trilokekar, R. D. & Fynbo, T. (2009) Beyond intellectual tourism and global market competencies: Student interns reflections on learning in global spaces. In R. D. Trilokekar, A. Shubert & G. Jones (Eds.), Canada's Universities Go Global (pp. 213-237). Toronto: James Lorimer.

Paul Tarc is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education and program coordinator of the MPEd in 'International Education' at Western University, London, Canada. He is author of Global Dreams, Enduring Tensions: International Baccalaureate in a Changing World (Peter Lang, 2009) and International Education in Global Times: Engaging the Pedagogic (Peter Lang, 2013).

More information about Western’s Master of Professional Education in International Education