• Doreen Starke-Meyerring Doreen Starke-Meyerring

Globalization, higher education, and writing development in globally networked learning environments

Building on my dissertation studying the rhetorical construction of the internet in German and U.S. higher education policy discourse, this research project has focused on identifying, developing, and studying learning environments in higher education that foster the literacies students need in order to take active roles as professionals and citizens shaping an emerging global social order. As my doctoral research had shown, early national and global policy discourses around the role of the internet in higher education advanced utopian and dystopian understandings of the internet as a new global market for existing industrial-model, locally produced higher education courses to be repackaged for global delivery online. As a result, hundreds of millions of public and private dollars were spent on global internet-based higher education marketing consortia, most of which have since failed. 

This project has focused on identifying and developing alternative learning environments that take advantage of the globally networked nature of digital technologies to allow for new ways of knowledge making in a more deeply diverse world by networking learners across traditional national and institutional boundaries into shared learning environments. Such learning environments allow students to examine and question their own habitual and normalized ways of knowing, to negotiate diverse ways of knowing, and to learn how to build shared learning and knowledge cultures across traditional boundaries. In other words, they allow students to develop the cross-boundary knowledge making practices they need in order to address the most pressing global problems we face.

Because of this focus on knowledge making across traditional boundaries, globally networked learning environments depend on and at the same time are vital to the study and teaching of writing. After all, it is in their writing courses where students learn to examine and question the tacit, habitual, regularized, and locally bounded ways of writing, speaking, arguing, thinking, and knowing (what genre theorists have called genres) that (re)produce, orchestrate, and normalize as “common sense” the activities of the communities, institutions, and disciplines in which they participate. By the nature of its subject matter, therefore, Writing Studies is deeply concerned with learning across traditional boundaries.



Starke-Meyerring, D., & Wilson, M. (Eds.) (2008). Designing globally networked learning environments: Visionary partnerships, policies, and pedagogies. Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense Publishers.

Cover of Globally Networked Learning Book Faculty, administrators, and others in higher education face growing pressures to position their institutions, programs, and courses in “global markets” and to prepare students for global work and citizenship. These pressures raise urgent questions: What might higher education look like in a globally networked world? Do traditional industrial models of learning suffice, or what new visions for learning are emerging? What does it take to implement and maintain these visions?

To address these questions, Designing Globally Networked Learning Environments brings together 25 educators from four continents, who share their richly diverse visions for teaching and learning in a globally networked world. What unites these visions is that they break with traditional models of repackaging traditional institutionally bounded courses for online delivery in global markets. Instead, these educators build robust partnerships to design globally networked learning environments that connect students with peers, instructors, and communities across traditional institutional, national, and other boundaries to facilitate the kind of cross-boundary knowledge making that students as professionals and citizens will need to participate in the shaping of an emerging global order and to address the most pressing global problems we face.

The book offers these visions as opportunities for faculty, program directors, administrators, international program experts, instructional designers, faculty development experts, and others in higher education to work together to deliberate, develop, and shape inspiring visions for globally networked learning and to become active participants in the globalization of higher education.

[PDF version of first two chapters]

Special Issues of Journals

Starke-Meyerring, D. (2010). Globally networked learning in professional communication, Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 24(3). (Call for Proposals)

Starke-Meyerring, D. (2010). Globally networked learning environments: Re-shaping the intersections of globalization and e-learning in higher education. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(2). (Call for Proposals)

Journal Articles, Chapters, and Papers

Starke-Meyerring, D. (2010). Globally networked learning environments: Re-shaping the intersections of globalization and e-learning in higher education. (Guest editor’s introduction). E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(2),


Starke-Meyerring, D. (2010). Globally networked learning environments in professional communication: Challenging normalized ways of learning, teaching, and knowing. (Guest editor’s introduction). Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 24(3),


Starke-Meyerring, D. (2008). Cross-boundary knowledge making in Globally Networked Learning Environments. Keynote address at the 2nd Conference of the SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning. Purchase, NY, November 14.

One of the main reasons why faculty pursue globally networked learning environments (GNLEs) is that they enable new ways of knowledge making across traditional boundaries that are difficult or impossible to achieve in traditional, locally bounded classrooms. Despite this great potential, the key pedagogical question in GNLEs remains how GNLEs might be designed to facilitate cross-boundary knowledge making—that is, to prepare learners for global problem solving and for engaging with peers whose knowledge-making practices are shaped by their situatedness in different locations, with different conditions and constraints. Drawing on several case studies of globally networked learning environments as well as on theories of genre, this presentation examines what is involved in cross-boundary knowledge making, what knowledge-making practices learners may need to develop, and what dimensions of pedagogical design faculty might consider to facilitate these practices.

[PDF Version of Presentation]


Starke-Meyerring, D. (2007). Designing Globally Networked Learning Environments. Keynote address at the 1st Conference of the SUNY Center for Collaborative Online International Learning. Purchase, NY, October 19.

Increasingly aware that the most pressing problems we face are global, many faculty in higher education have embraced their responsibility of preparing learners for global work and citizenship and have begun to develop innovative learning environments across traditional boundaries--globally networked learning environments (GNLEs). Drawing on several case studies of such learning environments, this presentation introduces the three pillars that make these new ways of learning possible: Pedagogies, partnerships, and policies. The presentation begins with the pedagogies that underlie the design of globally networked learning environments, sharing the visions for learning in a globally networked world that motivate their design and the characteristics of innovative pedagogies faculty have developed to realize these visions. Because one of the key characteristics of these learning environments is that they extend beyond traditional classrooms and rest on partnerships, the presentation then briefly discusses what kinds of partnerships enable these learning environments. Finally, because GLNEs often extend across institutional and national boundaries and because they represent innovations, they also depend on innovative policies, which constitute the third pillar of GLNEs and component of this presentation.

[PDF Version of Presentation]


Starke-Meyerring, D., & Andrews, D. (forthcoming). Building a culture of intercultural learning: Assessment in a virtual team project. In Hundleby, M., & J. Allen (Eds.), Assessment in Technical and Professional Communication. Amityville, NY: Baywood Publishing.

As businesses continue to expand globally, business professionals increasingly communicate in globalizing and technologically mediated work environments. To help students succeed in such environments, we developed a curriculum partnership to link our two management communication courses—one at McGill University in Canada and one at the University of Delaware in the United States. In this chapter, we discuss the assessment strategies we designed in order to facilitate a shared culture of intercultural learning, which is instrumental to overcoming the challenges of virtual collaboration. After reviewing these challenges, we describe our assessment approach as well as its alignment with learning outcomes and assess the outcomes of the partnership project for students and faculty. We conclude with specific recommendations for assessment strategies in future such partnerships.


Starke-Meyerring, D., Duin, A. H., & Palvetzian, T. (2007). Global partnerships: Positioning technical communication programs in the context of globalization. Technical Communication Quarterly, 16(2), 139-174.

Globalization is radically transforming technical communication both in the workplace and in higher education. This article examines these changes and the ways in which technical communication programs position themselves amid globalization, in particular the ways in which they use emerging global partnerships to prepare students for global work and citizenship. For this purpose, the authors report on a CPTSC supported exploratory study of current partnership initiatives in technical communication programs. The study indicated a high level of activity, planning, and interest in global partnerships and revealed a range of creative and innovative partnerships that systematically integrate new opportunities for experiential learning, collaborative international research, and civic engagement in a global context into programs and their curricula. Partnerships also emphasize cultural sensitivity, equal partner contribution, and mutual benefit, thus offering alternatives to emerging global trade visions of higher education. The article also identifies key challenges that partnerships face, suggesting implications for programs and the field as a whole to facilitate successful partnerships.

[Pre-Print Version]


Starke-Meyerring, D., & Andrews, D. (2006). Developing a shared virtual learning culture: An international classroom partnership. Business Communication Quarterly, 69, 25-49.

Business professionals increasingly use digital tools to collaborate across multiple cultures, locations, and time zones. Success in this complex environment depends on a shared culture that facilitates the making of knowledge and the best contributions of all team members. To prepare managers for such communication, the authors designed and implemented a semester-long intercultural virtual team project between a management communication course in the United States and one in Canada. To prevent faultlines between subgroups on each campus, the authors set a clear outcome for students’ research, established equity between the two sites, structured assignments so that students worked interdependently across sites, and encouraged inclusive communication. Faculty considering such a partnership should incorporate a robust collaborative workspace, incorporate preliminary exercises before a large project, provide intensive mentoring and instruction on peer review, arrange for a real visit or videoconference between locations, and expect the project to be both fun and demanding.

[Pre-Print Version]


Starke-Meyerring, D. (2005). Meeting the challenges of globalization: A framework for global literacies in professional communication programs. Journal of Business and Technical Communication, 19, 468-499.

Drawing on globalization literature, this article analyzes key themes in globalization discourse, discusses their implications for professional communication programs, and links the themes specifically to the literacies professional communicators need to develop in the context of globalization. The article proposes a framework for professional communication literacies in this context in order to facilitate dialogue about the implications of globalization for literacies in professional communication programs and help teachers and program developers design and revise courses and programs that foster global literacies. It concludes by suggesting specific examples for applying this framework to the development or revision of teaching materials, courses, and programs.

[Pre-Print Version]


Starke-Meyerring, D. (2004). The rhetoric of the internet in higher education policy: A cross-cultural study. Business Communication Quarterly, 67, 238-244.

This article presents an overview of a critical discourse study of the rhetoric of the Internet in higher education policy in Germany and in the United States. Using a critical rhetorical discourse analysis approach, the study examined how rhetorical choices in higher education policy privilege certain ideological interests while constraining others. The study showed that higher education policy about the Internet in the United States uses utopian narratives, in particular the national frontier myth, in order to privilege for-profit interests in the use of the Internet for market expansion and deregulation in higher education, ultimately pushing for the inclusion of higher education in global trade agreements advanced by the World Trade Organization. Concerned about the global market expansion in U.S. higher education, higher education policy discourse in Germany frames the Internet in dystopian terms as an external threat that manifests itself in emerging global markets. As a result, German policy discourse likewise advances the international marketization of higher education. While the specific policy narratives are locally situated, policy discourse in both national contexts enables a reconceptualization of higher education as an increasingly private good, privileging market concerns over the public good of higher education.

[Pre-Print Version]


Starke-Meyerring, D. (2004). Questing on the global stage: Brain gain, market gain, and the rhetoric of the Internet in German and U.S. American higher education policy. First Research Annual of the Association of Internet Researchers. (pp. 141-149). Frankfurt and New York: PeterLang.

This chapter examines the structure of the narratives with which German and U.S. higher education policy frames the Internet to advance changes to higher education. The chapter shows that while a quest structure dominates narrative policy in both national contexts, the particular deployment of the quest narrative is locally situated, drawing on the utopian national frontier myth in the United States and on the dystopian narrative of an external threat in Germany. In both contexts, however, the narratives advance a similar increasingly market-oriented approach to higher education, suggesting convergence among Internet-related policies across national contexts.


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Research Areas

Globalization, higher education, and writing development in globally networked learning environments   Writing, discourse, and the politics of technology in digital environments   Writing as an epistemic practice in knowledge-intensive settings
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