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Socially responsive leadership in IHE post-pandemic

Institute of International Education’s (IIE) latest publication – Socially Responsive Leadership for Post-Pandemic International Higher Education: Theoretical Considerations and Practical Implications – discusses major challenges in the implementation of internationalisation activities in higher education institutions (HEIs) after the Covid-19 pandemic and proposes a number of approaches for institutional leaders to take.

The current pandemic showed internationalisation leaders how geopolitical forces outside their control might influence their internationalisation efforts and force them to turn towards on-campus programmes and curricular changes necessary to prepare students for the complexities of future global challenges. The traditional internationalisation model consisting of inbound and outbound mobilities is, according to the authors, no longer viable. Nevertheless, it is expected to continue to form the core of international programmes in the near future, although probably less prominently. Instead, efforts should be refocused towards universally accessible on-campus learning, requiring reaching out to different stakeholders and increasing inclusive practices.

Authors recognise the strong willingness by the leaders of international offices to address advocacy, equity, inclusion, and engagement with the faculty, students and community, while understanding that there is little time and resources to forge meaningful relationships in practice. To overcome this, international leaders should develop a deeper understanding of theoretical concepts to inform their leadership with better conceptualisation and added complexities from a wider range of stakeholders. This should result in increasingly relational and inclusive practices including priorities such as community outreach, full integration of international and underserved communities and the facilitation of impactful intercultural exchange.

Building on this, three principal leadership frames for senior internationalisation officers and their teams are proposed:

  • Distributed leadership
  • Transformational leadership
  • Instructional leadership

Next to the general advice on post-pandemic leadership in international offices, the authors list a number of specific recommendations for practitioners:

  • Focusing on internationalisation at home
  • Increasing inclusive and equitable practices
  • Engaging others in “new” leadership
  • Remaining relevant

Next to the core competencies, the authors argue how embracing the relational aspects of leading, empowering others to promote and support international and global learning on campus, along with modelling desired dispositions, attitudes and behaviours, should lead to more equitable, accessible, and just educational opportunities for all students.

For more details on each of the abovementioned points, please read the full paper.