Two Timelines Together

Beginning in the 1920s we can see small intersects between the industries of media and international education.  Furthermore, we can begin to relate the two and how developments in one have affected the other.

In the 1940s, scholars began defining international education.  Around this time, the radio was the primary source of news during World War II, and the importance of international awareness was on the rise in the United States.  News reports during this time had an international focus because of the war, and perhaps Americans were inspired to prevent wars by learning more about other cultures and understanding of each other.

The post World War era led to a rise in human interest in world peace, and the media has allowed for this to happen by providing an outlet for people to share this interest.  In 1946, the Fulbright Act provided that “currencies and credits of certain countries acquired by the U.S. from the sale of war-surplus materials could be used for international education exchange”.  This suggests one of the first expressions of government interest in international education.

In 1958, the U.S. government establishes Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) to promote research in the telecommunications field, which is an international concept that requires collaborations between nations.  At this time, international education is still being defined theoretically and conceptually.  However, in 1963, Semester at Sea is founded by the Institute for Shipboard Education.  Its stated mission of “advancing cross-cultural understanding and respect and fostering in participants an attitude of caring and commitment to the world” defines its international education purpose (SAS 2007).

In 1987, control and regulation of national data network is transferred from the Department of Defense to the National Science Foundation.  This led to the development of HTML and the internet in the 1990s, allowing for citizens to have access to the web.  Study abroad programs emerged and moved on to online platforms, generating more reach to students in the nation.  In the academic year of 1996-97, there were 99,448 students who studied abroad, with 64.4% of them located in Europe.

Then, four major events happened in 2000:

  1. Government interest grew and by the year 2000, the International Academic Opportunity Act established the Gilman Scholarship Program, which offered awards and grants to undergraduate study abroad students.
  2. International Education Week was first held in 2000, as a joint initiative by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education to highlight the importance of international student exchange worldwide.
  3. A memorandum sent to the heads of executive departments and federal agencies from the Clinton administration provided a glimpse into the importance of supporting international education.  It provided that “the U.S. needs to ensure that citizens develop a broad understanding of the world”, calling for an international study abroad program implemented in the education system.
  4. The academic year of 1999-2000 showed a 44.39% increase in number of American students studying abroad from the year 1996-97.

At the turn of the century was the rise of social media, enabling people across the globe to communicate with each other, share ideas and opinions, etc.  It also allowed for study abroad students to remain connected with their friends, family, and social networks at home.  Facebook launched in 2004, YouTube in 2005, and Twitter in 2006.  In addition to wireless cell phone capabilities, Internet access for study abroad students proves to be a great advantage.

The economic and technological developments in the United States made the country very desirable in terms of pursuing an education.  The academic year of 2008-2009 holds the record high of international students in the United States: 690,923.  The year before, 262,416 American students studied abroad–an 8.53% increase from the 2006-07.  It can be hypothesized that social media connected people and gave them an outlet of sharing their interests, possibly generating an increasing number of people interested in studying abroad.

Now, the world is moving toward globalization faster than ever, and word is spread through media in a matter of seconds.  Media and international education prove to be growing quickly and together, and it is likely that we will continue to see this trend.


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