Conceptualizing University Education Study Abroad Programs Using a Mutualistic Process

Tara Johnson, Kristina Hains, Bryan Hains, Janela Salazar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


As we continue to develop into a more globalized society, it is an expectation that students in higher education become global citizens. While the literature supports the notion that students positively benefit from international education experiences, little research has been done to determine what role the community plays, or what effects the study abroad experience has on the community in which the student population is engaged. This study introduces an innovative conceptual framework that overlays the biological concept of symbiosis on the international education experience. This unique conceptual framework shines a light on the study abroad experience from the community’s perspective, as well as illustrating positive and negative impacts of student interaction within the local community. The results indicate that not only is there a role for communities but also communities need to be included in the planning and creation of these experiences, ultimately leading to more mutually beneficial outcomes. Ideally, these findings could be used by educators to capture the community voice to create more mutualistic programs in study abroad.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-572
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Studies in International Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 European Association for International Education.


  • community reciprocity
  • education abroad
  • international service learning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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