Graduate Student Training and the Reluctant Internationalism of Social Science in the USA

Miller-Idriss, Cynthia


By Cynthia Miller-Idriss and Seteney Shami

In the US academy, there is significant disciplinary variation in the extent to which graduate students are encouraged to or discouraged from studying abroad and doing fieldwork overseas. This article examines this issue, focusing on US graduate training in the social sciences and the extent to which students are discouraged from developing international expertise. Data is drawn from a mixed-methods study conducted from 2005-2010 by the Social Science Research Council and funded by the US Department of Education’s International Research and Studies Program. This article argues that key cultural dynamics in the nomothetic social science disciplines in the USA steer graduate students away from contextual international study and thus work against university internationalization efforts more broadly. Scholars of comparative and international education need to be aware of these kinds of disciplinary cultural dynamics in order to fully understand how university internationalization efforts succeed or fail.