Discourse and traditional belief : an analysis of American undergraduate study abroad
Despite the goal of increased globalisation, the proportion of American college undergraduates studying abroad remains at just over one percent. This thesis investigates traditional beliefs which have affected perceptions of study abroad and which have constrained policy development in American higher education. Chapter One outlines a statistical portrait of study abroad, identifying its participants as undergraduate females and showing how study abroad is a marginal activity. The institutional changes proposed within the last two decades to increase study abroad use are discussed, and it is shown how elements of discourse within the higher education community have devalued the purposes of studying abroad, the programmes, and participants. Chapter Two establishes the conceptual framework for this inquiry. Michel Foucault's theory of discourse, belief, and power is outlined as a guide for an analysis 5 of how beliefs about study abroad evolve, wield power over individuals and institutions, and are subject to change and the reallocation of power. Using Foucault's theory that emerging strands of discourse produce persistent beliefs, Chapter Three identifies prevailing traditional beliefs about study abroad and the historical and contemporary discourses which produced and now sustain them. The influence of gender on these beliefs is demonstrated. Chapter Four examines the alternative discourses of sponsors and participants in study abroad. These discourses could contribute to a redefinition of the situation. Chapter Five offers reflections on current policy directions and some suggestions about new possibilities.