Date of Award

May 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Cultural Foundations of Education


Gretchen Lopez


higher education, host community impact, international education, neoliberalism, social relations, study abroad

Subject Categories



This project draws attention to a disconnect between US higher education internationalization policy rhetoric which centers ideas of mutual cross-cultural exchange, and study abroad research, which focuses almost exclusively on the educational and experiential outcomes of the US based participant. Using neoliberalism as a theoretical framework, this comparative case study utilizes qualitative interviews with 57 host community members in the popular study abroad destinations of San Jose, Costa Rica and Florence, Italy, to focus on how those who engage with US study abroad students understand and are impacted by those encounters. Each descriptive case explores: a) what motivates locals to engage with US students; b) their modes of educative engagement; c) instances of harmony and dissonance that result; d) how they make meaning of these encounters; e) and what they see as outcomes of US study abroad in the community. Across these two diverse cases the findings suggest that many hosts perceive US students’ aversion to linguistic (and cultural) immersion as a lack of respect for hosts; the presence of US students contributes to foreign (US) imperialism; and that study abroad program design choices have an impact on the study abroad host experience.


Open Access

Included in

Education Commons