Transforming International Higher Education in a Post-COVID World: Using the Methodologies of Futures Thinking and Arts-Based Research to Amplify Students’ Voices


  • Sheila Mullooly Portland State University



transformative international education, critical futures studies, arts-based research, design justice, international student lived experience, post-COVID transformation, IHE Design Futures framework


Our institutional approaches to problems in the changing global landscape of international higher education (IHE) are being challenged, and many scholars call for new approaches for understanding and addressing the complex problems we face (e.g., Patel, 2016; la paperson, 2017; Lee, 2021; Stein, 2018, 2020). The pandemic has sped up the need to make changes in how we approach our evolving problems and possibilities for transformation. This paper is a call to action and proposes the use of new approaches to research and educational practice—specifically, critical futures studies (see Equity Futures (Brown, 2017; Institute for the Future [IFTF], 2019)) and arts-based research (see Barone & Eisner, 2012; Cahnmann-Taylor & Siegesmund, 2008). This paper will outline four participatory methodologies that could be used: design futures (Costanza-Chock, 2020), scenario building (Dator, 1998; Fergnani & Song, 2020), ethnographic experiential futures (EXF; Candy & Kornet, 2017), and poetic inquiry (Prendergast, 2009; Reilly, 2013). The proposed IHE Design Futures approaches, outlined in the framework and toolkits included, can help us re-envision and re-learn how we engage with IHE during the evolving global COVID-19 pandemic.