The Pacific Century is upon us and with it, shifting tides of geopolitics, newly empowered voices and communities, changing patterns of human movement and migration, disrupted employment models, environmental change, new pathways for research collaboration and technological growth, evolving dynamics and models of faculty and student mobility, new cultures of learning and teaching, and radically new and diverse generations of learners.
With the Pacific Century comes the need to ponder again the internationalization of higher education in the light of new realities and an altered education landscape. The Pacific washes up on many shores, in Asia as well as in the Americas and the islands in between. The epoch presents new challenges but also new possibilities, refreshed opportunity for partnership and academic collaboration across Asia and the Pacific.
Vancouver plays a perfect host for these conversations. The most Asian city in the Americas, and the closest metropolis in proximity to Asia, Vancouver is developing into a nexus for pan Pacific academic engagement and the ongoing internationalization of higher education in Asia and the Pacific.
How can higher education better engage the Indigenous communities which abound throughout the Americas, Asia and the Pacific? The history of their access to education and their relationships with colonial, governing and mainstream societies is diverse and often has roots mired in marginalization and subjugation. Similarly, newcomer communities, immigrants, minority populations, temporary foreign workers, and international students need access to culturally appropriate and quality education, and as these communities grow in size and diversity, their needs must be anticipated and addressed.
Submissions under this theme will focus on Internationalization and interculturalization in higher education, in the classroom and in the larger community. Interculturalization encourages organizational and individual behavioural change towards culturally neutrality. It promotes the ability to understand and interact effectively and appropriately in a variety of cultural contexts, supporting cross-cultural dialogue, and challenging self-segregation. It attempts to move past tolerance and the passive acceptance of diversity and towards promoting engagement and dialogue with appropriate and effective interactions.
Submissions under this theme will reflect the growing needs and opportunities to diversify the student experience and the potential for innovation in experiential learning, different and evolving models of student mobility, the use of technology and hybrid forms of instruction, new models of cooperation between partners, internationalization at home, and the nascent potential for shared student experience that bridges the Pacific.
Asia, the Pacific and the Americas are diverse in terms of nations, cultures, associations, allegiances and blocs, histories and traditions, languages, levels of development, religions, and education systems different in substance, style and quality. Submissions are welcome that envisage new and innovative opportunities within and among these regions for refreshed or new initiatives, the creation of new education hubs, new forms of transnational and multilateral engagement, generative critiques of policy, next-generation partnerships and explorations of best practices that will enable novel and successful models of academic collaboration.
Throughout history, societies have educated youth to prepare them for success, to reach their full potential as productive members of the economy and to become responsible, principled citizens. But in the face of rapid technological, economic and societal change, and given the evolving nature of employment, educators must prepare students for jobs that don't yet exist, in knowledge and service economies that use technologies not yet envisaged. Education can no longer be just about "knowing," but must focus on learning how to learn, on lifelong learning and developing soft skills such as communication, creative thinking and flexibility, global competence and the ability to discern, aggregate and synthesise information in ways we cannot yet imagine. But education will lose its path if its only purpose is to prepare workers for the economy. Education must also focus on a well-rounded and value-laden education, covering culture and cultures, language, and a connection to heritage. We invite submissions that take up the challenge of educating students in this new era and balance the needs of economy and society.
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