Outsiders within: isolation of international faculty in an American university

Ishmael I. Munene

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


As the internationalisation of higher education has become an important element in university global competitiveness, universities are engaged in initiatives to internationalise their curricula. Among the strategies employed to internationalise the campuses is the recruitment of highly skilled international faculty. The recruitment of such faculty is fraught with challenges of integrating and socialising the faculty into the academic ethos and social fabric of the university and community. This study presents the findings of a qualitative case study conducted on international faculty in a Southwestern university engaged in an ambitious programme of transformation into a global campus. Using embedded intergroup theory and boundary heightening as theoretical constructs, the study identifies the isolation of the faculty through excessive intrinsic careerism, collegial and community isolation, minimal professional development opportunities, and exclusionary politics of teaching and scholarship that occasionally translated into stereotypical comments, physical violence in class and offering courses that were unpopular. The study recommends enhancing opportunities for international faculty interactions, strengthening the integration practices evident in successful units, and providing staff development opportunities for both chairs and international faculty in order to boost professional and social integration of the faculty.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)450-467
Number of pages18
JournalResearch in Post-Compulsory Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2014


  • boundary heightening
  • embedded intergroup theory
  • globalisation
  • international faculty
  • internationalisation
  • non-elite university

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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