International education and the post-9/11 syndrome: A study of international educators in selected Miami-area colleges

Oluyinka Tella, Florida International University


This dissertation investigated the relationship between the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the internationalization agenda of U.S. colleges and universities. The construct, post-9/11 syndrome, is used metaphorically to delineate the apparent state of panic and disequilibrium that followed the incident. Three research questions were investigated, with two universities in the Miami-area of South Florida, one private and the other public, as qualitative case studies. The questions are: (a) How are international student advisors and administrators across two types of institutions dealing with the post-9/11 syndrome? (b) What, if any, are the differences in international education after 9/11? (c) What have been the institutional priorities in relation to international education before and after 9/11? Data-gathering methods included interviews with international student/study abroad advisors and administrators with at least 8 years of experience in the function(s) at their institutions, document and institutional data analysis. The interviews were based on the three-part scheme developed by Schuman (1982): context of experience, details of experience and reflection on the meaning of experiences. Taped interviews, researcher insights, and member checks of transcripts constituted an audit trail for this study. Key findings included a progressive decline in Fall to Fall enrollment of international students at UM by 13.05% in the 5 years after 9/11, and by 6.15% at FIU in the seven post-9/11 years. In both institutions, there was an upsurge in interest in study abroad during the same period but less than 5% of enrolled students ventured abroad annually. I summarized the themes associated with the post-9/11 environment of international education as perceived by my participants at both institutions as 3Ms, 3Ts, and 1D: Menace of Anxiety and Fear, Menace of Insularity and Insecurity, Menace of Over-Regulation and Bigotry, Trajectory of Opportunity, Trajectory of Contradictions, Trajectory of Illusion, Fatalism and Futility, and Dominance of Technology. Based on these findings, I recommended an integrated Internationalization At Home Plus Collaborative Outreach (IAHPCO) approach to internationalization that is based on a post-9/11 recalibration of national security and international education as complementary rather than diametrically opposed concepts.

Subject Area

Bilingual education|American studies|Ethnic studies

Recommended Citation

Tella, Oluyinka, "International education and the post-9/11 syndrome: A study of international educators in selected Miami-area colleges" (2010). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3431312.