Globalization and the emergence

Globalization and the emergenceHigher education plays a significant role in shaping the culture of societies. As globalization becomes more prominent in all aspects of civilization, higher education must respond and lead in this endeavor. It is incumbent upon postsecondary institutions to train the leaders of tomorrow to lead in a world without boundaries, and to be able to embrace and promote the diversity of this new world stage. As such, higher education administration graduate programs must rise to the challenge of training educators in a new "global" way to prepare them for the possibilities that will emerge.


Higher education in the United States is on the cusp of yet another period of transformation. How universities and colleges respond to the current and future changes that accompany the tremendous impact of globalization on the world, will determine their prosperity, viability, and success for years to come. The decisions of leaders in policy-making, curriculum design, governance, and management of more than 3,600 institutions in this country will have an immense impact on the future of American higher education. Producing leaders capable of functioning in this era of unprecedented global interaction and connection requires a new focus on multicultural competence, world-wide awareness, and an understanding of complex relationships and new ways of managing networks in a knowledge based society.

The relationships between governments and higher education are changing around the world. Consequently, methods for administering and leading in higher education are being transformed as new responsibilities and expectations arise (Goedegebuure & Vught, 1994). Leaders of American colleges and universities need to be able to build new understandings of global relationships and propel their individual institutions into the mix of newly formed international organizations and partnerships in the knowledge producing community. This emerging task requires prospective leaders to garner new skills and knowledge through graduate preparatory programs for higher education administrators and policy makers. Globalization and its effects on higher education is an essential theme, which should underlie or become a core component of masters and doctoral programs for future leaders.

At the present time we may not realize what changes will materialize with regard to globalization, however, we can no longer exist in the ivory tower, or in the relative isolation of traditional American higher education. In some respects, higher education has always been a part of the global information and knowledge society; yet, in ensuing years relationships among people, economies, and universities around the world will integrate in ways not yet imagined. From the graduate student perspective, in order for higher education in the United States to remain a global influence, new methods of leadership and management with an emphasis on a working understanding of the global market is essential.

Defining Globalization

The task of defining globalization is difficult due to the complexity of the phenomenon, hence the array of definitions offered by scholars tend to be lengthy and intricate. For the purposes of this paper, however, a more straightforward definition will be employed, "... globalization has multiple dimensions--economic, technological, and political--all of which spill into the culture and affect in all-encompassing ways the kinds of knowledge that are created, assigned merit and distributed" (Stromquist, 2002, p. 3). This compact characterization serves to open the dimensions of globalization for discussion as we attempt to examine the impact that globalization has had and will have on the world, the landscape of higher education, and graduate programs in higher education administration.

Globalization and Higher Education

In recent decades higher education has been at the head of many governmental agendas and has been central to the economic prosperity of numerous nations (Henry, Lingard, Rizvi, & Taylor, 2001). To date, higher education has existed largely within national borders; hence, within various countries institutions have retained their unique characteristics. However, Philip Altbach, a leading scholar in higher education, has agreed that change is afoot "We are at the beginning of the era of transnational higher education, in which academic institutions from one country operate in another, academic programs are jointly offered by universities from different countries, and higher education is delivered through distance technologies" (Altbach, 2004, p. 22). In addition trends such as the international cooperation in research, migration of students to universities outside their native lands, internationalization of the curriculum, and development of study abroad programs have gained prominence in discussions concerning the globalization of higher education.

Although these trends have attracted the attention of leaders in higher education, they have been slow to change the overall landscape and are disputably just the tip of the iceberg. Given the tiny percentage (0.2%) of American undergraduates in four-year institutions that study abroad (Altbach, 2004), the interest in truly global education from the point of view of the American undergraduate population might not yet be a system-wide phenomenon. However, a greater number of American students may come to realize that their employers will expect a new level of personal cultural competence in order to compete in the global marketplace. Consequently, the curricula of degree programs in American higher education will rapidly transform as entrepreneurial and market-driven universities receive intensified pressure to provide graduates who are multiculturally competent, able to work in diverse settings, and knowledgeable of the global community (Stromquist, 2002).

Toward Understanding the World

New fields of study such as multicultural education, women's studies, ethnic studies, cultural studies, and human rights education to name a few, all rely on global frames of reference (Williams, 2000). As a result, today's students are starting to receive a less ethnocentric and far less limited view of the world in their college years. Students are becoming more cross-culturally competent and increasingly aware of how their specific cultural lenses affect their beliefs, values, and behaviors. Higher education is already reacting to the need for a workforce that is culturally savvy and able to function in the global market.

Not only is the nature of education changing, measures of educational attainment are also being altered as shifts toward standardization of credentials and curricula occur in order to accommodate international norms (Fallon & Ash, 1999). Providing higher education in isolation is no longer an option in this global environment. A systemic change of universities is necessary to achieve this goal (Morey, 2000).

Leadership Development

The preparation of higher education leaders in doctoral and masters degree programs will directly influence their ability to successfully create the change needed to ensure that colleges and universities are equipped to teach students to be culturally competent. Leaders in higher education must know how to construct the curricula to incorporate a global focus. This change is not limited to adding specific courses; it also includes changing pedagogy and infusing diversity into the institutional community. Henry and associates (2001) stated that diversity was an essential characteristic of a dynamic society, so too is it essential for a higher education system that aspires to engage effectively in the global landscape. Leaders in higher education need to be able to embrace and utilize this diversity to its full potential.

Worldwide Development

Theorists have described the university as the spearhead of globalization, and the influence of higher education in this characterization is not far removed from reality. Higher education is seen as the developing force for many industrialized nations, and is an important element in national economies. Throughout much of its history, higher education has played an important, if not decisive role, in shaping the culture and civilization of present day societies (Burgen, 1996). Universities are producers of innovative practices through research, transmitters of knowledge through education, and developers of the workforce. These are vital contributions to society that cross borders and help to build relationships with other organizations on a global level.