The term “international curriculum” is highly contested and carries with it a variety of connotations. The definition of an international curriculum within the context of the international school system, for example, may be significantly different from how it is defined by teachers and other educators within a classroom context. International curricula also vary significantly in their educational aims, content, and assumptions about the nature of the relationship between the citizen, the nation-state, and the world. Indeed, the divergent and fluid understandings of international curricula held by different stakeholders in different contexts reflect how curriculum making is not just an educational project. The process of curriculum making reflects the very different ideological, economic, political, cultural, and practice-based frames used by policy makers, political leaders, educators, professional association, interest groups, and also broader social movements. As a result, schooling is essentially a “site of struggle and negotiation and of constant translation of perspectives” (Westbury, 2008, p. 53).

One helpful way of thinking about the term “international curriculum” would be to consider how it has been framed and defined at different levels of curriculum making, especially at the programmatic and institutional levels (Deng, 2009).