International Education and the Post-9/11 Syndrome: A Study of International Educators in Selected Miami-area Colleges Dissertation

thesis or dissertation chair

fiu authors

  • Tella, Oluyinka


  • This dissertation focuses on the relationship between the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on symbols of economic and military power in the United States and the internationalization agenda of colleges and universities. The construct, “post-9/11 syndrome,” is used metaphorically to delineate the apparent state of panic and disequilibrium that followed the incident. Three research questions were investigated, with two universities in the Miami-area of South Florida, one private and the other public, as qualitative case studies. The questions are: (a) How are international student advisors and administrators across two institutional types dealing with the “post-9/11 syndrome?” (b) What, if any, are the differences in international education after 9/11? (c) What have been the institutional priorities in relation to international education before and after 9/11? Data-gathering methods included interviews with international student/study abroad advisors and administrators with at least 8 years of experience in the international education function at their institutions, review of relevant documents, and analysis of each institution’s international student and study abroad data bases. The interviews were based on the three-part scheme developed by Schuman (1982): context of experience, details of experience and reflection on the meaning of experiences. Data collection and analysis for each institution were conducted simultaneously. Taped interviews, researcher insights, and member checks of transcripts were preserved as an audit trail to provide support for the integrity and consistency of my findings. Key findings include a progressive decline in fall to fall enrollment at the University of Miami by 13.05% in the 5 years after 9/11, and by 6.15% at FIU in the 7 post-9/11 years. In both institutions, there was an upsurge in interest in study abroad during the same period, with heavy concentration in Europe but less than 5% of enrolled students ventured abroad annually. I summarized the themes associated with the post-9/11 environment of international education as perceived by my participants at both institutions as 3Ms, 3Ts, and 1D: Menace of Anxiety and Fear; Menace of Insularity and Insecurity; Menace of Over-regulation and Bigotry; Trajectory of Opportunity; Trajectory of Contradictions; Trajectory of Illusion, Fatalism and Futility; and Dominance of Technology. Based on these findings, I recommended an integrated Internationalization At Home Plus Collaborative Outreach (IAHPCO) approach to internationalization, predicated on a post-9/11 recalibration of national security and international education as complementary rather than diametrically opposed concepts.

publication date

  • May 25, 2010


  • 9/11
  • Bilingual
  • Higher Education
  • International Education
  • International Educators
  • International Student Advisors
  • Multicultural
  • Terrorism

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)