Curating Cartographies of Knowledge: Reading Institutional Study Abroad Portfolio as Text


  • Julie M. Ficarra



Study abroad, Discourse analysis, Critical social theory, Geography


The professionalization of the field of Study Abroad has led to an increase in research on the student experience as well as macro-level analyses of institutional ‘best practices’ for program development and implementation. Yet what has been largely ignored is the international education epistemology embedded in the curation of what I refer to as institutional study abroad portfolios (ISAPs) - the compilation of study abroad programs focusing on specific disciplines or learning activities in particular parts of the world. In this paper, I argue that by using ISAPs as a unit of analysis we can uncover political complexity that is often obfuscated both by institution-level policy analysis as well as program-level evaluation. I present an ISAP analyses of three post-secondary institutions in the U.S. that illustrates how ‘common sense’ geographical and disciplinary pairings come to produce ‘hidden curriculum’ which results in problematic and potentially unintended cartographies of knowledge legitimization.


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Author Biography

Julie M. Ficarra

 Julie Ficarra holds an Ed.M in International Education Policy from Harvard University and is currently a PhD Candidate in Cultural Foundations of Education at Syracuse University.  Her research focuses on applying critical theory to the practice of international education policymaking, curriculum and program development, as well as university/community collaborations. Her professional experience includes study abroad program management and curricular internationalization in Higher Education as well as public diplomacy for the U.S. Department of State. 


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How to Cite

Ficarra, J. M. (2017). Curating Cartographies of Knowledge: Reading Institutional Study Abroad Portfolio as Text. Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad, 29(1), 1–14.