Amy Metcalfe

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Science and Knowledge
Power and Organization
Imagery

Research Interests

Higher Education
Faculty
Internationalization
Campus Environments

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Research Methodology

Visual Culture Studies
Visual Discourse Analysis
qualitative methods

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Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.

 

Amy is inspiring! Always provides critical yet gentle feedback. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Linda Pickthall (2018)

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Contested imaginaries of global justice in the internationalization of higher education (2017)

An emergent ‘critical turn’ in the study and practice of higher education internationalization has generated incisive analyses of the ethical and political implications of international engagements. This reflexive moment, however, also risks renaturalizing an imperial global imaginary, which I trace in this dissertation to the fact that higher education scholars and practitioners in the Global North have yet to substantively unpack the transnational colonial dimensions of the modern Western university. I argue that practitioners and scholars of internationalization have an obligation to face higher education’s historical and contemporary complicity in empire, as well as our own. This is particularly necessary in the context of nation-states that were founded through conquest, and whose ongoing colonial entanglements have both local and global dimensions. Working from a decolonial orientation and an underlying commitment to denaturalize violent and unsustainable patterns of thinking, being, and relating, I ask how inherited frames of liberal justice and humanist theories of change operate in the mainstream study and practice of internationalization in the United States and Canada. In the areas of curriculum internationalization, international student mobility, and global citizenship, I identify a tendency to reassert as universal what are in fact situated, partial, and often Euro-supremacist epistemological and ontological assumptions about the world and the purposes of higher education. Further, these assumptions often calibrate even critical scholarship, which largely remains enframed by what is possible and desirable within the frames of colonial modernity and its promises of security, prosperity, and universality. By identifying the limits of justice within these frames, there is an opportunity to think, be, and relate differently, but at these moments of possibility there is also a tendency to seek out the old comforts and assurances promised by imperial frames. To interrupt this circular tendency requires tracing both the immediate symptoms and the root causes of global injustice, attending to our enduring attachments to the promises offered by the colonial architectures of modern existence, and making a commitment to wrestle with the complexities and difficulties of learning from past mistakes, disinvesting from harmful systems and subjectivities, and experimenting responsibly with alternative possibilities.

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Amid storied, shared, and envisioned lives : a narrative inquiry of undergraduate exchange students in and between Canada and the Republic of Korea (2016)

Despite the growth in the number of participants in exchange programs, exchange students in and between Canada and the Republic of Korea (Korea) have received very little academic attention. To explore student motivations as well as their transnational experiences and their reflections on these experiences, I examined the lives of nine undergraduate exchange students between Canada and Korea, employing a narrative inquiry methodology. Idiosyncratic vignettes of these students’ disjunctures from their home country and multidirectional practices in their host country were analyzed through the theoretical lenses of global flows, cultural and neoliberal globalization, and social imaginaries in the Thirdspace (Soja, 1996, 2009).For the nine exchange students, embarking on an overseas exchange emerged from interactions between global flows and their localities. For these students, going on an exchange was an opportunity not only to be freed from their home country and its many stresses, but also to become equipped with a competitive edge as a global talent. Throughout these engagements with foreignness, they gradually enhanced their critical awareness of pedagogical, cultural, and spatial differences, even if their embrace of otherness was often limited due to their identity as temporary sojourners in the host country.Since exchange programs are based on official agreements between home and host universities, administrative terrains were examined and unequal relationships between universities in Anglophone countries and Korean universities emerged. Arguing that current exchange programs between Canadian and Korean universities have reinforced contemporary social inequality, this study recommends creating more inclusive exchange programs by interjecting diversity into the selection criteria and offering shared spaces where exchange students can interact with local students in their academic, relational, and cultural arenas.

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Engagement for all? A study of international undergraduates at the University of British Columbia (2015)

American student engagement literature has identified a set of student behaviours and institutional practices shown to lead to student satisfaction, academic success, and retention to graduation among post-secondary students. However, the relevance of these behaviours and the standardized instrument used to measure them may have limited applicability for non-U.S. students. Building on existing quantitative analysis, through focus groups, this study considered how international and Canadian undergraduate students perceived the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) and select behaviours identified in the student engagement literature. This study found that international students misinterpreted key terms such as faculty members and had subtle but important differences in their perceptions of student behaviours and institutional practices compared to the perceptions of Canadian students.

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Inuit Nunaat as an emerging region in area studies : building an Arctic studies program south of the tree line (2015)

This dissertation addresses the emergence of the Arctic as a distinct world region and actor in international geopolitics and what this means for the field of area studies. I ask how the Arctic fits into the established field of area studies and how the unique characteristics of the region – as defined by Arctic Indigenous peoples – challenge Western understandings of what constitutes a global region including how we understand territory, sovereignty, and the relationship between space and social justice. To answer this question I analyze how the Arctic region maps onto the preexisting geographies of sovereignty as held by the U.S. Title VI program. In the United States the field of area studies has been significantly influenced by the Department of Defense and later the Department of Education via the Title VI grant program. Title VI provides grants to support area and international studies and foreign languages at colleges and universities across the country. The program has traditionally defined world regions based on the nation-state model, and it identifies important areas of the world as those critical to U.S. interests. In order to answer how the particular characteristics of the Arctic, specifically Indigenous worldviews, challenge and broaden current understandings of area studies I first seek to understand the Arctic from a northern perspective. How do the Inuit in Canada and internationally define their homeland, and what is the relevance of Inuit Nunangat (Inuit territory in Canada) and Inuit Nunaat (Inuit homeland internationally) to domestic and international relations? Next, I explore how Inuit concepts of territory further the voice and self-determination of the Inuit. Finally, I conduct an analytic autoethnography of the Arctic studies initiative at the University of Washington culminating in the inclusion of the Arctic as a distinct world region in the Canadian Studies Center's 2014 Title VI grant proposal. I argue that understanding the Arctic as a global actor – via the lens of new thinking in international relations theory, theories of social justice, and Inuit concepts of space – has the potential to reconfigure area studies in higher education to more effectively address 21st century global challenges.

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Otherwise, elsewhere : international doctoral students in globalized transnational spaces (2013)

This study asked broad questions about how and why talented individuals from around the world imagine and choose to pursue doctoral education in a particular location (the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada), their experiences as international doctoral students in constructing and navigating their lives and studies in place and space, and their imagined careers, accomplishments, responsibilities and locations as they emerge from formal education with its apex of achievement. These trajectories into, through and beyond doctoral education were viewed through the lens of globalization theory and theories of capital with the purpose of understanding further how the phenomena associated with globalizing and networked social fields (including higher education, research, policy, work and migration) are reflected in student purposes, imaginations, choices and experiences. A case-study design focusing on a single institution and a multiple, embedded case research method which analyzed personal narratives were used. The study found that international doctoral students pursue PhDs with many purposes in mind, some of which reflect dominant policy and institutional discourses of purpose for doctoral education (such as human capital development, career preparation and knowledge production). However, students were also found to utilize doctoral education abroad as a mechanism for building less theorized forms of capital, for contributing to social good, and for pursuing sometimes surprising private purposes. Their experiences in first becoming and then navigating life as international graduate students demonstrated immersion and engagement in the attributes of deeply globalized societies, including networked technologies, high levels of mobility, globalized fields of education, research and work, and transnational spaces in which borders and identities become more fluid. The growing global embrace of neoliberal, market-based ideologies infiltrated student experience and imagined careers in nuanced ways. However, while large-scale forces of globalization clearly shape international doctoral student trajectories, these forces are not homogenizing nor fully controlling of student experiences. Students navigate these forces with agency and strategy within their personal ranges of motion, and offer a multiplicity of narratives and trajectories that counter any singular notion of the “international doctoral student”. Implications for doctoral education, public policy, and further research are advanced.

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Introductory economics courses and the university’s commitments to sustainability (2012)

The three largest public universities in British Columbia, Canada have signed the Talloires Declaration, committing themselves to promoting students’ environmental literacy and ecological citizenship. As a result, there is pressure to integrate sustainability across the curriculum. Using a case study approach involving these three universities and qualitative research methods, this dissertation explores the potential implications of sustainability commitments for principles of economics curriculum, drawing on a theoretical framework grounded in ecological economics and other literatures.About 40% of North American university students take a principles of economics course; relatively few go on to take more advanced economics courses. As such, this course is an important vehicle for many students to learn economic theory and the economics profession’s approach to evaluating public policy, and it has the potential to substantially contribute to the knowledge and tools that students can mobilize to foster sustainability.To examine how sustainability commitments play out in the classroom, this study relied on content analysis of nine principles of economics textbooks and 74 interviews from three populations at the three universities. The first group consisted of 54 students who had recently completed an introductory economics course. The second comprised 11 economists who deliver the course. The third involved nine professors who teach undergraduates in programs that explicitly focus on sustainability and require that students take introductory economics. Findings suggest that universities’ sustainability commitments have yet to influence principles of economics curriculum and that the curriculum does not support these commitments. The textbooks and courses appear to do little to prepare students to understand sustainability issues or potential limits to growth. Sustainability is not salient to lecturers, and disciplinary culture limits prospects that mainstream economics departments will integrate sustainability into curriculum. In part, this inertia may exist because addressing sustainability has the potential to create problems of plausibility and coherence for mainstream economic theory. Recommendations are offered for reflecting sustainability commitments in economics curriculum, but it is unclear whether economics departments are interested in, or have the capacity to deliver, such a course.

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Canadian philanthropy and higher education : funding shifts, organizational restructuring and the repositioning of academic culture in university museums (2011)

The study analyses the changes to higher education funding, organizational structure and academic culture at two academic boundary organizations, the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA) and Beaty Biodiversity Museum (BBM). The study is framed by a blended theoretical construct that includes academic capitalism theory, theories of academic culture, and theories of critical museology as a conceptual framework. Drawing from these theoretical concepts, the qualitative sources of interview data, and quantitative documents, the study provides a missing element in the existing theory on academic capitalism and suggests a refinement in the existing literature on higher education research, in particular how to account for the increasingly important influences of academic fundraising as it plays out in two academic museums as examples of boundary organizations.The MOA and BBM are the two study sites for the doctoral research as a result of their successful receipt in January 2002 of a research infrastructure grant from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) which stipulates a matching grant of 40% of the funding to come from the province, and the remaining 20% from industry support and community donors. This emphasis on a new funding mix to include industry partnerships and input from the academic fundraising mechanism has influenced the organizational structure and culture of these two academic boundary organizations. The major findings indicate changes to the organizational structure of both units to include management teams, advisory boards, as well as an emphasis on entrepreneurial and marketing experience in the skill set of academics. The repositioning of academic culture indicates that these boundary organizations have shifted their introspective research towards a public outreach experience and recognize that with a competitive funding environment comes the need for academic units to be innovative and territorial.

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Strengthening scholarly publishing in Africa : assessing the potential of online systems (2011)

This study investigated current publishing practices among scholarly journals in Africa, while exploring the potential contribution of online publishing systems to aid those practices. This study examined how current systems, largely involving traditional publishing methods, offer Africans limited opportunities and incremental gains in taking advantage of faster and wider dissemination of digital systems for scholarly communication. Issues about authorship, readership, editorial and peer review, as well as the level of science resources in African academic libraries, were studied. Using a well-articulated, mixed-mode research design, this study has assembled data from 286 key actors – journal editors, potential journal editors, librarians, IT administrators, faculty and postgraduate students – from sub -Saharan Africa during a 12-month period in 2007–09. Drawing on this data set, this study documents and analyzes the unparalleled availability of journals and other information resources made available to the African research community through digital technologies and publisher policies, as well as current constraints in ICT infrastructure, training, and support inhibiting the utilization of these same technologies in advancing African scholarly publishing efforts. This study establishes the high level of energy and excitement among journals editors, librarians, and IT administrators about the compelling new possibilities offered by new digital technologies. Drawing on what has been learned in this study, recommendations are made for tapping into the full potential of these technologies in strengthening research capacity, improving the quality of research, reducing Africa’s isolation from the global scholarly community, and ultimately narrowing the information divide.

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The outside within : heteronomy in the training of forest researchers (2009)

This study of research training in the University of British Columbia’s Faculty of Forestry is framed by Bourdieu’s theory of fields. Drawing from quantitative and qualitative sources of evidence, the study documents the training of recruits in a research field that is not autonomous (self-governed) but heteronomous (governed by others). UBC Forestry plays a key role in the reproduction of the field of forest research. The field of forest research is the social space located at the intersection of the scientific field (where scientists conduct systematic inquiry) and the forest sector (where companies, government, and others decide on the use of forests and their products). Forest research is not governed by its own rules but rather by the combined logics of its two parent fields. At stake in the field is the capacity to mobilize leading science to identify pathways to the solution of pressing forest-related problems. The Faculty of Forestry and its members rely on various forms of capital from both the scientific field and the forest sector, embracing research problems with social, economic, political, and environmental implications, and collaboration with other organizations. The faculty members, adjunct professors, and graduate students involved in the reproduction of the field of forest research come to Forestry with diverse disciplinary and professional backgrounds. Most research projects involve non-academic partners, and the impact of this involvement on students varies according to the partners’ involvement in research. The autonomy of students varies according to the ratio between the volume and forms of the capital they bring and the total capital required by their projects. Most students undertake a Master’s or Ph.D. degree program after observing a gap between their aspirations and the positions available to them. Their problematic relationship to their position of origin makes them likely to incorporate the habitus of forest research. As their training progresses, the majority of students become aligned with the field of forest research and aim to continue addressing forest-sector problems with the means of science. Some, however, strategically use their research training to launch or improve a different career.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Diverse realities and policy portrayals : what teacher experiences bring to the antiracism policy process (2015)

This project was inspired by my desire to investigate what teacher experiences could bring to the antiracism policy process. I provided a space within which study participants could talk about their experiences teaching racially and ethnically diverse students and asked them to look at how those experiences are represented in or framed by district multicultural or antiracist policy. Informed by critical antiracist theory, I collected qualitative data using critical policy analysis, individual interviews and a focus group whereby study participants came together to discuss and analyze a specific policy text issued by the school district. I enacted a critical policy analysis that set the context of these discussions by explicating the tensions and coalescences of educational policy, race and the city, and by providing an initial thematic analysis of the policy text in question. I then constructed assertions based on the discussion transcripts, asserting that: participants talked more in terms of bullying and anti-bullying than in terms of racism and antiracism; participants were concerned with how students understood racism and accusations of racism; participants talked about policy as disconnected from their everyday realities and as only minimally relevant to their teaching, and participants did not see the particular policy text analyzed as useful or relevant to their experience. In examining these assertions within the greater context of the city, I identified ways in which discursive maneuvering within policy and media impacts conceptions of race and racism. I also considered how teachers are simultaneously positioned as objects of and agents within policy, which may provide useful spaces for influencing the policy process. In conclusion, I argued for a more meaningful and relevant relationship between teachers and education policy, policy that must maintain the tenets of social justice, including antiracism, at its core.

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In pursuit of the “right” student : a case study in assessing the effectiveness of enrolment management in shaping a first-year class (2014)

This study assesses the impact of undergraduate admission decision-making models on enrolment at a selective Canadian university. A quasi-experimental methodology was employed to describe actual academic and engagement outcomes of students identified by different admission decision-making models at the University of British Columbia (UBC), located in Vancouver, Canada. Academic outcomes were defined by first-year grades and retention to second year; engagement outcomes were defined by nine factors that emerged from a principal component analysis of student responses to two survey instruments assessing students’ actual and intended behaviours prior to and after arrival at UBC. The study concludes that although choice of admission-making decision model does have an impact on shaping a first-year class, the effect is small. A hypothetical admission decision-making model that considers geographic location of the applicant in addition to academic ability (in order to increase national representation) was found to enroll a UBC class with lower academic ability, an equal chance of retention to second year, and a greater intention to engage in career-related enriched educational experiences. An actual admission decision-making model that considers the personal characteristics of applicants in addition to academic merit (as opposed to a grades-only model) was found to enroll a class with somewhat lower academic ability, the same chance of retention to second year, minimal differences in engagement prior to attending UBC, no difference in their intention to engage in enriched educational opportunities, a greater likelihood of engaging with peers, but an overall lower level of engagement with their schoolwork. Resource dependency theory was employed to discuss how an institution’s ability to exert influence over its enrolment (i.e., its environment) is affected by the factor of applicant demand for the supply of first-year seats. The discussion also draws upon social imaginary theory to describe how admission decision-making models based upon institution needs (as opposed to applicant merit) conflict with our sense of social justice. While the results suggest that students choose institutions more so than institutions choose students, the study discusses the benefits to both the institution and society when universities effectively manage enrolment through diverse admission decision-making criteria.

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Internationalizing Chinese higher education institutions (2012)

In this qualitative case study, I explored how internationalization is interpreted at a higher education institution in Shanghai, China. By using a theoretical framework containing Knight’s (2004) model, Marginson and Rhoades’ (2002) concept of ‘Glo-na-cal’, and Tierney’s (1998) academic culture, I attempted to answer three main research questions: How is internationalization interpreted at the national level, in terms of strategies, approaches, and rationales? How is internationalization interpreted at the institutional level, in terms of activities and rationales? At the core of the internationalization of higher education in China lies potential academic cultural clashes. How is this clash manifested, and how is this clash addressed at the institutional level? This study took place at School of Economics, Pacific University in China. Data collection took place from late March through mid-April 2011 using a strategic sample of participants including domestically trained scholars, returnee scholars, and senior administrators in the school. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews and document collection. Interviews were conducted in Mandarin and were digitally recorded and subsequently transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically. The findings of this study suggest that internationalization of higher education has taken a narrow and pragmatic approach in China’s national policy level: internationalization is treated as a means to achieve national goals in technology innovation and creativity, and economic competitiveness through building world-class universities. However, there is a lack of well-articulated strategies of how to achieve the world-class university status. The absence of concrete strategies imposed from the national level does make room for suitable strategies and activities at the institutional level internationalization process. The case study institution has developed a set of strategies for internationalization, including overseas recruiting and strengthening academic environment, curriculum reform and strengthening teaching quality, emphasis on research and intensifying academic exchange. Nevertheless, true internationalization does not come easily. A lack of collegial academic culture is shown at the case study institution between the domestically trained faculty and returnee scholars. From a macro perspective, this study also indicates a frequent interaction among the local, national, and global levels during the process of internationalizing a Chinese higher education institution.

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Undercurrents influencing public funding for Canadian higher education institutions, 1963-1997 : economic discomfort and policy mood (2011)

There is a tenuous link between government intentions and funding for higher education institutions during recessions. Sorting out this puzzle involves developing a better understanding of the influences on government policy choices for funding. This study uses theoretical frameworks from political science to guide the design and selection of measures to interpret economic and political variables associated with government expenditures on higher education institutions in Canada between 1963 and 1997. The general model builds on current variables used in the literature by adding measures of voters’ economic discomfort, policy feedback through prior period expenditures, and constructing a measure of policy mood of federal voters as a proxy for public opinion. In general, federal funding for universities tends to decrease with policy feedback, community college funding increases with economic discomfort, and vocational funding decrease as federal GDP increases. At the same time, provincial funding for universities tends to increase with provincial GDP and community college funding increases with provincial GDP and Employment Insurance applications. In summary, there is a statistically significant trend of federal government expenditures shifting funds between institutional types during recessions. In the Maritimes, federal funding creates a net shift from community colleges to vocational institutes. Outside of the Maritimes, federal funding tends to shift from community colleges to universities and vocational institutes.

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Mexican private higher education : the potential of private and public goods (2010)

In this qualitative case study, I explore the organizational processes and policy discourses at one private higher education institution in Mexico. By using a theoretical framework relative to contestations between the global “ideology of privatization” in education (Rizvi, 2006; Rizvi & Lingard, 2009) and the “global public good” of private education (Marginson, 2007; Menashy, 2009), I examine how external forces are influencing a private institution and its opportunities relative to the public/private good. The study provides answers to three main research questions: 1. What are the assumptions, beliefs and knowledge of upper level management of the private education institution with regard to the global and local forces (economic, political, technological, and social) that influence the organization and its opportunities? 2. What are the assumptions, beliefs and knowledge of upper level management in internal processes in response to external pressures relative to the provision of public versus private goods? 3. How does the institution position itself relative to other educational opportunities (public and private) at the local, national, and global levels?The study was undertaken at an established private business school in Mexico. Data collection took place from February through April 2010 using a strategic sample of participants (men and women) with high-level positions in the school. The study consisted of semi structured interviews, which were digitally recorded and subsequently transcribed, coded, and analyzed thematically. The findings of this study reveal interesting issues and processes of the social imaginary of senior level executives related to neoliberal discourses, predominantly in relation to the effects of competition in higher education. Particular attention is paid to the institution’s potential to generate public and private goods, and to the value of positional goods relative to other educational opportunities (public and private) at the local, national and global levels.

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Publications

  • Thinking in place: Picturing the Knowledge University as a politics of refusal (2019)
    Research in Education,
  • Corporatization of higher education through internationalization: the emergence of pathway colleges in Canada (2018)
    Tertiary Education and Management, , 1--15
  • Imag (in) ing the university: Visual sociology and higher education (2012)
    The Review of Higher Education, 35 (4), 517-534
  • Examining the trilateral networks of the triple helix: Intermediating organizations and academy-industry-government relations (2010)
    Critical Sociology, 36 (4), 503-519
  • Revisiting academic capitalism in Canada: No longer the exception (2010)
    The Journal of Higher Education, 81 (4), 489-514
  • Knowledge for whose society? Knowledge production, higher education, and federal policy in Canada (2009)
    Higher Education, 57 (2), 209-225
  • The geography of access and excellence: spatial diversity in higher education system design (2009)
    Higher Education, 58 (2), 205
  • Lessons from the edge: For-profit and non-traditional higher education in America (2008)
    MINERVA, 46 (1), 155-158
  • College unranked: Ending the college admissions frenzy. (2006)
    REVIEW OF HIGHER EDUCATION, 29 (4), 537-538
  • Fiscal reality and academic quality: Part-time faculty and the challenge to organizational culture at community colleges (2004)
    Community College Journal of Research & Practice, 29 (1), 25-44
  • Academe, technology, society, and the market: Four frames of reference for copyright and fair use (2003)
    PORTAL-LIBRARIES AND THE ACADEMY, 3 (2), 191-206

Current Students & Alumni

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