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

  • Author / Creator
    Jorgenson, Shelane Rae
  • 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’.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2014
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.