Visiting International Scholars and University Internationalization
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Visiting international scholars are viewed as an important part of an institution’s internationalization goals and objectives. Meaningful learning can take place about different or other teaching, research, cultures, and communities by interacting and collaborating with academics from around the world. Despite the central role of visiting international scholars as a valued component of internationalization, research related to the experiences of these individuals is quite limited. This research study set out to add to the field of research regarding visiting international scholars by examining one university’s Visiting International Scholar programs to explore to what extent the academic activities of visiting international scholars contributed to the internationalization goals and objectives of the institution. My research study looks at the types of academic activities in which visiting international scholars engage, including in particular academic publications, conference or workshop presentations, conference or workshop attendance, course participation, guest lectures, courses taught, research projects, participation in meetings, and interactions in the local community. Informed by a review of literature, I analyzed publicly available institutional data about the Visiting International Scholar programs and hour-long interviews conducted with 5 visiting international scholars. I describe important contributions these visiting international scholars made to the university community as well as the benefits and challenges these scholars experienced. These findings provide the basis for recommendations regarding institutional internationalization practices, policies, and strategic planning intended to lead to improvements in the existing Visiting International Scholar programs.