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English Research Seminar 18.11.2020

26/03/2020

‘EMEMUS online’: what does internationalised higher education look like on a university website? Ute Smit, University of Vienna - Date & time: Nov. 18, 2020

Abstract:

Internationalisation has shaped higher educational institutions (HEIs) so lastingly since the beginning of the millennium that it has become a leading research focus in HE studies (Yemini & Sagie 2018). A similar trend has been observable for language-related interests, which has resulted in an impressive body of studies focussing on English medium education in HEIs in non-English dominant contexts, which is referred to in the following as ‘English-medium education in multilingual university settings’ or EMEMUS for short (Dafouz & Smit 2016). Reflecting the range of EMEMUS concerns, such research spans a wide array of topics, such as ideological underpinnings, challenges and possible impacts, (language) policies, educational practices and outcomes, or teacher education (e.g. Bradford & Brown 2018; Valcke & Wilkinson 2017). While diverse in their interests, existing EMEMUS investigations tend to focus on physical university spaces, thus implicitly treating the virtual space as subservient. As this stands in contrast to the strongly online world we live in, it is the aim of this paper to identify the virtual space as relevant for EMEMUS research in its own right. This research interest, labelled ‘EMEMUS online’, is not only crucial in view of the growing relevance of the online world for HEIs in general and, more specifically, when attracting international students, but also from a research angle, as such studies can provide relevant applied linguistic insights into how HEIs view and construct their internationally-motivated and intrinsically multilingual educational undertakings.

As ‘EMEMUS online’ is a new research interest, it will be approached in an exploratory manner by focussing on the website of the University of Vienna. Fitting to the conceptualisation of EMEMUS as complex, dynamic and multi-layered, the analysis will apply the ROAD-MAPPING framework (Dafouz & Smit 2020). This framework views discourse as access point to six dimensions at the core of EMEMUS realities, namely Roles of English (in relation to other languages), Academic Disciplines, (language) Management, Agents, Practices and Processes, and Internationalization and Glocalization. By drawing on the dimensions in a systematic manner, the ‘EMEMUS online’ investigation presented here works with a large set of English-medium webpages of the website in question and makes use of multimodal online discourse analysis (e.g. Djonov & Knox 2014; Zhang 2019). The findings reveal the fragmented nature of ‘EMEMUS online’ in terms of what language-related information is provided how and where. This exploratory study thus allows for a detailed description and critical evaluation of how the university in focus constructs their EMEMUS policies and practices online.

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