Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Tarc, Paul


This dissertation explores the phenomenon of ‘global mindednesses’ and its development as the idealized pedagogical outcome of global/international education. I consider how individuals become globally minded across their life journeys and through study abroad experience under larger conditions and forces. There are three discrete studies in this integrated dissertation format. In the first study, I examined the biographical and autobiographical accounts of thirteen US-based global scholars presented in the edited collection The global education movement: Narratives of distinguished global scholars (Kirkwood-Tucker, 2018). Through a thematic analysis, I identified five major themes in their development of global mindedness: (1) Experiencing war and/or political tension; (2) Encountering social injustice; (3) Inspiration from pedagogical and personal relations; (4) Engaging with socio-cultural difference; and (5) Leaving the familiar / reaching out to the unknown. The findings and discussion deepen understandings of global mindedness and how it is developed; it also offers insights for educational interventions.

The second study furthers the inquiry in life-long learning towards global mindedness, while expanding its focus outside of the US to a more global context. For this study, I interviewed six cosmopolitan educational scholars, who come from and work in diverse cultural contexts and geographical locations. I co-constructed narratives with each scholar and presented them in six brief accounts. By comparing and examining their narratives, a series of common patterns of understanding and experience could be identified. I then applied a life-story based narrative inquiry approach to examine the content of each narrative. In the findings, I highlighted each scholar’s unique qualities of global mindedness and the most significant experiences contributing to the development of these qualities. Core themes included (1) translation and translatability; (2) a scholarly upbringing and aspiration to the value of differences; (3) colonial education, identity, and home; (4) separation, leaving home, and intercultural sensitivity; as well as (5) home as an imaginary space and anchor for intercultural identity.

The third study is a qualitative meta-analysis where I explored university students’ experience of study abroad. Data was drawn from 20 selected primary qualitative studies. Central to the findings are four major themes: (1) enhanced (inter)cultural understanding and awareness; (2) perspective and identity change; (3) learning through overcoming challenges; (4) learning through interaction and immersion. While confirming the valuable learning opportunities that study abroad can offer, findings in this chapter also raise concern over the limitations and problematic assumptions associated with study abroad.

These three qualitative studies work together to account for the pedagogical ideals of global education as grounded in the lived experience of students seeking to become (more) globally minded and educational scholars who, along certain registers, exemplify global mindedness. This grounded and phenomenological approach offers insights into pedagogical interventions more attuned to the complexity of intercultural subject formation as shaped by historical conditions, lifelong experiences, and unique circumstances.

Summary for Lay Audience

What kind of person is a global education supposed to produce? I use the term ‘global mindedness’ to signify the dispositions and characteristics that a global education seeks to develop in learners. To clarify its meaning, and to better understand what kind of experiences may help people become globally minded, I conducted three studies. This dissertation is comprised of these three studies.

The first two studies examined the phenomenon via the life-long learning process of scholars who served as role models of globally minded individuals. The first study was based on the analysis of biographies and autobiographies of 13 US-based global education scholars included in a book. Their stories showed that they had certain common experiences that played a significant role in their learning to become globally minded. Many of them experienced war, encountered or witnessed injustice such as racism, or had important mentors. They interacted with people perceived as culturally different and they were willing to live in unfamiliar places.

In the second study, I interviewed six scholars whose work were related to education but produced largely outside the US context. Each of these scholars speak at least two languages fluently and have lived in multiple locations in the world. Together with them I composed stories that outline their life-long learning processes and highlight the most unique and significant experiences. These experiences that stand out include studying in a colonial education system, translation as a cultural concept, influence from scholar parents, leaving home at a young age and the complexity in the notion of home.

The third study is about university students’ study abroad experience. Through this study I wanted to understand the meaning of global mindedness in the context of study abroad and how study abroad experience could contribute to its development. I selected 20 papers and extracted qualitative data from them such as quotes from students being interviewed to describe their experience abroad. Analysis of these data together – a meta-analysis – showed that study abroad participants often needed to overcome common challenges such as language barrier and disorienting feelings to achieve successful learning.