Special issue


Internationalised higher education literature draws attention to the tension between the economic returns of recruiting overseas students and the personal, social and cultural possibilities offered. This paper advances the idea that fostering cosmopolitan values might be an educational focus for internationalisation. However, it appears that the creation of higher education learning environments which promote such values, offering opportunities for students to become more interculturally aware is yet to be achieved. Drawing on the ‘capability approach’ of Amartya Senand Martha Nussbaum, an ‘intercultural capability set’ was constructed as a means of operationalising cosmopolitan values within higher education. Analysis of data from 44 interviews with undergraduate home and international pharmacy students through the lens of capability enabled the identification of factors within the academic environment which act to promote or inhibit the development of intercultural relationships, learning and more cosmopolitan selves. Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment should be therefore examined for their potential to enhance opportunities for intercultural engagement and capability expansion, with participatory dialogue, including staff, students, university departments and stakeholders, about valued outcomes for a university education. It is argued that the capability approach provides a sound basis for operationalising and evaluating efforts to develop students with cosmopolitan values for the present and contributing as future members of society.

Practitioner Notes

  1. Evaluating intercultural capabilities through a capability set can help in planning curriculum and pedagogy
  2. Group work is an effective medium for promoting intercultural capabilities
  3. Group work must be safe and structured to avoid negative outcomes
  4. Pedagogy should enable students to lean about, as well as from, each other
  5. Safe, inclusive spaces should be provided for students to explore different understandings