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Surfacing ‘Southern’ Perspectives on Student Engagement with Internationalisation: Doctoral Theses as Alternative Forms of Knowledge

postgraduate study seminar series




6 May 2019, Monday


2:30 pm - 4:30pm


AM310, 3/F Amenities Building, Lingnan University


Professor Catherine Montgomery

Academic Director of International Partnerships, the University of Bath, UK





‘Contemporary universities are powerful institutions, interlinked on a global scale; but they embed a narrow knowledge system that reflects and reproduces social inequalities on a global scale’ (Connell, 2017).




This presentation explores how knowledge represented in doctoral theses exploring internationalisation may be constructed as a source of ‘Southern’ knowledge on international education. The presentation aims to surface some of the ways in which the knowledge generated by doctoral students could illustrate new perspectives on internationalisation, particularly in terms of knowledge building for the students’ own country contexts. The research conducted a search of all UK doctoral theses in the EThOS digital repository of the British Library (which houses all doctoral theses written in British Universities – around 500,000 in number), focusing on theses where students had engaged with internationalisation. The search generated a data set of theses written in the decade 2008 to 2018 which were then thematically analysed. In addition to questioning whether thesis knowledge constitutes powerful or empowering knowledge for the student and the Southern cultures they come from, the research indicates that the doctoral theses both reproduced Western knowledge but also generated some new perspectives on methodological and thematic constructions of internationalisation. The presentation highlights hierarchies of knowledge, and questions whether postcolonial encounters through the PhD can generate knowledge that builds Southern perspectives on internationalisation.