My research sits at the intersection of globalization and higher education reform. I am interested in how nations, institutions, and individuals aspire to “global” status, focusing on both organizational changes in response to globalization and transnational mobility patterns of students and scholars. I also look at cross-border circulations of institutional practices and pedagogical methods. As a qualitative researcher, I utilize ethnographic writing to make sense of people’s experiences, looking for patterns, describing relationships and meanings, and contextualizing a community in relation to its broader sociocultural setting. As an educationist, I am also interested in framing everyday experiences with the organizational behavior of schools and institutional structures and privileges.
In addition to a number of journal articles and book chapters, my larger research agenda entails writing a book manuscript that puts into comparative perspective new regimes of higher education in South Korea and the United States as universities face funding constraints and turn to students as a primary source of revenue. Each chapter of the book revolves around a fundamental question: (1) How do universities court, market, and recruit students that defy commonly understood meanings of internationalization? (2) How do students themselves defy current categorizations as they become more mobile and pursue non-linear educational pathways across various scales and borders? (3) What concepts better represent the current landscape of students’ hybrid identities and new currencies? (4) What are the broader effects of an increasing population of international students, especially as students’ identities are negotiated, accepted, or rejected on campuses? Contrary to the dominant discourse in education scholarship, I argue that universities not only seek to recruit as many foreign students as possible to participate in the global competition reshaping higher education but also seek to retain domestic students who would otherwise study abroad—what I call “reverse student mobility”—that reveals the complex ways we can understand the function and delivery of international education and that challenges the simplistic binary of domestic versus foreign that frames much of these discussions.
As part of my broader research interests, I am developing ongoing collaborations with scholars who work not only in education but also from a variety of disciplines that engage with area studies scholarship. My larger goal is to bridge the topical and theoretical gaps between scholarship in education and area studies, as well as between US-focused and comparative higher education research.
My research has been generously supported by grants and fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright IIE Program, and Korea Foundation. I also received the Comparative and International Education Society Higher Education SIG Best Dissertation Award, honorable mention.