Critical Internationalization: Moving from Theory to Practice


  • Frances Vavrus University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Amy Pekol University of Minnesota-Twin Cities



internationalization, international higher education, study abroad, critical theory, symbolic capital


This article utilizes critical social theory to illuminate structures of inequality that undergird certain practices of internationalization in higher education institutions, particularly in U.S. institutions. We demonstrate how such theory can be productively employed to analyze three key dimensions of contemporary internationalization: 1) a representational dimension, 2) a political-economic dimension, and 3) a symbolic capital dimension. We argue that these three elements are central to any critical conceptualization of internationalization that has at its core a consideration of equity, ethics, and social justice. The overarching goal of this article is to illustrate how critical social theory can foster more extensive debate regarding the material and ideological systems of exclusion in international education and contribute to the task of reimagining internationalization. The full text of the article can be found at 10.18275/fire201502021036



How to Cite

Vavrus, F., & Pekol, A. (2018). Critical Internationalization: Moving from Theory to Practice. FIRE: Forum for International Research in Education, 2(2).