Mestenhauser and the Possibilities of International Education: Illuminating Pathways for Inquiry and Future Practice
Edited by Anne M. D’Angelo, Mary Katherine O’Brien, and Gayla Marty
Published July 26, 2022 by Routledge
258 Pages 9 B/W Illustrations
Josef Mestenhauser had an indelible impact on the fields of international education and international higher education. He was instrumental in the leadership of NAFSA: The Association of International Educators, contributing to the professionalization and development of the field. Each chapter in this volume focuses on Mestenhauser’s impact- on students, professionals and mentees alike. Threaded through these personal accounts, professional interactions and Mestenhauser’s own words, readers are able to explore wider themes within the field of international education as well.
These themes include understanding the core purpose of internationalization, historicizing the development of the field, and understanding Mestenhauser’s continuous legacy on everyday practices within the field. Although reading in 2022, some seven years following his passing, I am able to hear his thoughts and ideas come alive vividly. In particular, themes regarding the function of international education, disruptions to the field, and opportunities going forward stand out.
Mestenhauser’s Legacy on the Changing Field
A variety of stakeholders enter the field of international education from varying viewpoints, including as study abroad advisors, international student recruiters, researchers and faculty members. Although coming with a shared interest in the field or increasing access to international exchange programs, it can be challenging to develop even, equitable and cooperative relationships given these departments’ different purviews.
For example, student mobility and recruitment are common pathways into the field of international exchange, although most students don’t engage in education abroad and many researchers call for moving beyond mobile forms of exchange. This example underscores the importance of systems thinking with an eye to on-the-ground implementation. Thus, alongside calls for greater collaboration, recommendations and best practices must take into account budgetary constraints and human resources capacities.
COVID-19 and its implications continue to impact the field of international education- ranging from changing international student enrollment, to limiting outbound mobility. In addition, the pandemic ushered in a greater focus on the role technology plays in connecting students to each other, international locations, and local communities. Calls for virtual exchange, studying abroad in the metaverse, and distance education programs are a few examples of the long-lasting implications of COVID-19.
In addition to changing the way students engage with campus, virtual and hybrid learning also increased calls for greater flexibility in higher education, particularly for administrators and staff members. Supporting students, while maintaining their well-being, became paramount.
Where do we go from here?
I appreciate the diversity and depth of voices presented throughout Mestenhauser and the Possibilities of International Education: Illuminating Pathways for Inquiry and Future Practice. They showed the myriad of pathways forward for both the field, as well as individuals at respective points in their journeys.
Although uncertain about the field’s next steps, I anticipate a renewed focus on mobility as travel reopens and a resurgence around larger systemic trends focused on collegiate financial sustainability and a rapidly changing higher education landscape. A number of old (philanthropy and foundations) and newer (technology and finance) stakeholders are entering the higher and international education landscape, both with distinct approaches and aims to support students gain access to international experiences.
Personally, I desire for all of these diverse partners to work collaboratively to ensure students’ academic and economic success during and beyond their collegiate experiences. Although sometimes difficult to reconcile, this space of convergence offers up the possibility to meet a greater number of students where they are in hopes of landing where they want.