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(De)colonizing global citizenship: a case study of North American study abroad programs in Ghana Open Access


Other title
higher education
global citizenship
study abroad
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Jorgenson, Shelane Rae
Supervisor and department
Shultz, Lynette (Educational Policy Studies)
Abdi, Ali A. (Educational Policy Studies)
Examining committee member and department
Soudien, Crain (School of Education, University of Cape Town)
Peters, Frank (Educational Policy Studies)
Johnston, Ingrid (Secondary Education)
Department of Educational Policy Studies
Theoretical, Cultural and International Studies in Education
Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Over the last few decades, the concept of global citizenship has emerged in policies and vision statements of higher educational institutions without clarity of what it means or how to educate for it. In North America the discourse of global citizenship study abroad has become increasingly attached to programs that send students to locations constructed as “underdeveloped”. Utilizing a post-colonial and post-structural conceptual framework, this study unpacks some of the rationalities and relations of power that shape study abroad programs and global citizenship discourses in higher education. An extended case study and Foucauldian discourse analysis are used to examine the policies and practices of North American universities that send undergraduates to Ghana and address the ways in which global citizenship is discursively constructed through the agendas of internationalization, the knowledge economy and neoliberal and neo-colonial relations of power. Ethnographic fieldwork comprised of participant observation, informal and semi-structured interviews was conducted at the University of Ghana to observe and examine the material practices of study abroad and interactions between North American and Ghanaian students. The research findings reveal some problematic ways people are conditioned to perceive and encounter each other as ‘Other’. The prevalence of race, culture and development discourses in the interviews and policy documents illuminate prejudice that remains an absent presence in global citizenship education and scholarship. Colonial power relations that divide and order humanity were evidenced in the ways North American citizens, knowledge and education were upheld as “superior” by both North American and Ghanaian respondents. Some students resisted these dynamics through critical reflexivity and staying with the discomfort and ambivalence that differences engendered, instead of trying to manage or control it. However, the one-way flow of North American students to Ghana in the name of university partnership, exchange and global citizenship, skew the platform of engagement. In order to address these colonial vestiges in international educational policies and practices, these findings suggest a critical examination of pre-departure education and orientation of study abroad programs as well as partnership policies that are a preparation and conduit to these ‘exchanges’.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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