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Title: Being a foreign professor of EFL in Japan : administrative work and internationalization of higher education
Author: Kellem, Harlan
ISNI:       0000 0005 0288 1603
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2020
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This study investigated the lived experiences of foreign English-language professors working at higher education institutions (HEI) in Japan. Rather than being a new development in Japanese higher education (HE), internationalization runs through the entire history of the modern period. Traditional education practices in Japan were overhauled and redesigned starting at the beginning of the Meiji period (1868). Leaders such as Ito Hirobumi, Mori Arinori, and Guido Verbeck, imported the structure and content of what became HE in Japan. After transitioning into the modern era, German and English were the main languages of instruction. The institutional structures of HEIs in Japan were designed by blending both traditional Japanese educational practices and Western models. This dual nature of Japanese and Western influences on HE created what has been described as internationalization as “Japanization” (Hashimoto, 2000) and internationalization as Western hegemony (Ishikawa, 2009). With the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT, 2012, 2013, 2014), funding internationalization of HE, partly through increasing the number of international students and faculty, research in this field has increased. An investigation of part-time adjunct lecturers of English (Whitsed & Volet, 2011) found that rather than being intimately involved in transformative internationalization of their HEIs, foreign teachers experienced their work as taking place on the periphery of their institutions. Considering the importance of academic rank on work experiences, the current study focused exclusively on tenure-track and tenured professors. The study employed hermeneutic phenomenology (van Manen, 1990) to investigate lived experiences of tenure-track and tenured foreign professors of English as a foreign language (EFL) working in Japanese HEIs. Administrative work, where the level of the institution (Knight, 2004) and the individual (Sanderson, 2008) meet was the primary focus. Conversational interviews (van Manen, 1990; Kvale 1996), were used to discuss administrative work with 14 participants. In line with the ontological and epistemological assumptions underpinning a qualitative constructivist approach, participants’ reflections on their lived experiences were analyzed using constant comparison (Corbin & Straus, 2015) and phenomenological reflection (van Manen, 1990). Six themes emerged from the data, categorized under Hierarchy and Cultural Mediator. Hierarchy is made up of the following units of meaning: doing as you are told, maintaining the structure, and autonomy. The units of meaning that make up Cultural Mediator are: Japanese way, different cultural perspective, and cultural liaison. By working in a high-ranking position, participants reflexively create and maintain international and intercultural curricula and programs where many individuals within and outside of their HEIs have the opportunity to interact with foreign ideas, languages, and people. Rather than experiencing their role as being exclusively on the periphery, or as a centrally-located colonizer, participants operate in a third space, acting as a bridge that unites Japanese and foreign approaches to HE. Finally, the study recommends that the content and processes of administrative work be submitted to critical, systematic evaluation of professors themselves, potentially as part of in-place faculty development practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral