The Curriculum is the Culprit: Debunking Deficit Myths and Improving Access to Study Abroad for Community College/Technical and Vocational Students
Keywords:Community college, curriculum, degree requirements, first-year, general education, technical/vocational education, transfer credit
While community college and technical and vocational educational and training (TVET) students’ ability to afford a study abroad experience as well as the “culture” that shapes their attitudes towards education abroad are frequently framed as barriers to participation, this article posits that curriculum is one of the primary gatekeepers. Qualitative interviews with global education leaders at 20 U.S. institutions indicate that the availability of flexible program models and student interest in international experiences are creating favorable conditions for their students to go abroad, yet finding courses outside of faculty-led programs that meet these students’ curricular needs is an enduring challenge. This article argues that shifting away from a deficit perspective in education abroad research and looking beyond assumptions that community college/TVET institutional characteristics and their students’ socioeconomic identities are necessary steps towards addressing low enrollment in study abroad. Rather, leaders at higher education institutions and study abroad organizations can open doors by adding courses that align with general education curriculum and associate degree requirements for direct-enrollment options.
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