Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Leadership and Human Resource Development

Document Type



Multilingualism is generally regarded as having benefits for adults spanning multiple areas of life. Career-wise, the benefits of multilingualism include greater employment opportunities, increased intercultural understanding, improved negotiation skills, greater information access, and even higher income. Nonetheless, in the United States, multilingualism is contradictory to the national, English-only ideology, which has even found its way into academia. The purpose of this study was to understand how multilingual, tenured and tenure-track faculty who hold positions in human resource development (HRD) and/or adult education programs in the United States make meaning of their career identity, the value of multilingualism in US academia, and the role of multilingual literacy in their careers.

This was an interdisciplinary study, merging ideas from sociolinguistics and HRD: multilingualism, career identity, and career development. Using a qualitative, phenomenological approach, I sought to understand the phenomenon of being a multilingual faculty member in an HRD and/or adult education program in the United States, i.e., the essence of the participants’ experiences in their academic roles. The participants were 12 multilingual faculty members and the data included interview transcripts and participants’ CVs.

The data revealed that the participants perceived multilingualism as an integral part of their identity and listed multiple benefits of multilingualism for research, teaching, and service. The participants also discussed multiple challenges to leveraging their multilingual skills for career purposes. While the participants confidently described their international identities, these were not as prominently featured on their CVs. Additionally, participants sometimes struggled to negotiate their international identities within the largely monolingual context of the United States, opting to adapt to the dominant context. The participants highlighted the fact that multilingualism is not a highly valued skill within their professions and organizations. Still, the findings revealed multiple benefits related to academic careers, including the potential to engage in cross-national and international research, to help students develop as global citizens, and to lead international engagement efforts.

The findings point to several areas of improvement in terms of policy and practice, inclusive of supporting career development related to international research and engagement, leveraging multilingual literacy skills in teaching, and establishing an inclusive climate.



Committee Chair

Robinson, Petra A.



Available for download on Monday, June 25, 2029