22 SES 14 A, Higher Education, Political Conflict, and New Economies of Public Missions and Reform: Comparative international perspectives
The objective of this paper is to assess the ways in which wider political conflicts– particularly the combined effects of re-imagined nationalisms, heightened security and the rise of populist movements - have transformed the policy reform landscape and public agendas of HE cross-nationally, focusing particularly on cases in the ‘Global North’ (UK, Poland) and the ‘Global South’ (South Africa, Turkey). Within these contexts (as exploratory case studies which will be illustrated), I seek to assess how these forces are impacting upon the conditions of working life and conceptualizations of HE civic missions with HE. These joint concerns are seen as particularly important as a growing number of HE ‘management stakeholders’ (academics, senior leaders, university presidents, public policy makers) seek to reform the policy landscape of HE in relation to national and global economic agendas and as a response to conflict (e.g., pressure groups, social movements, Brexit). Yet these latter reform efforts are often seen in conflict with wider political issues which have a direct impact on the public egalitarian missions of HE such as widening participation, HE’s response to human displacement, humanitarian crises and international human rights violations, and its role in increasing social mobility for socially disadvantaged groups. These efforts, explored comparatively, are also increasingly significant in relation to a reported rise in constrained academic freedom. HE is also important site for better understanding the role that national governments place upon the ideal of HE’s third mission and its increasing emphasis on national security (e.g., Prevent Duty in HE). In this paper, I ask, how might we assess the diverse character of these conflicts in HE and why is assessing their character in comparative HE contexts important? In contemplating such questions, there are some helpful conceptual tools to hand. First, as Balibar (2004), Rumford (2013), Sassen (2014) and Lefebvre (1991) suggest, the geopolitical concepts of ‘bordering practice’, institutional space-power arrangements and security anxiety (see Ahmed, 2013, Alexander & Pain, 2012, Dillabough, in progress) provide a preliminary conceptual frame for examining how changing, comparative perceptions of HE as frontier zones or site of surveillance might be considered by different HE stakeholders. This revisionist approach to HE governance is necessary as we have limited cross-national understandings of the potentially mobile manifestations of new surveillance modalities in HE and associated national and extra-territorial political conflicts and their impact on HE stakeholders and public missions in comparative geopolitical terms.
Ahmed, S. 2013. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. London: Routledge. Alexander, C. and R. Pain. 2012. Urban Security: Whose Security? Everyday Responses to Urban Fears. In The Urban Fabric of Crime and Fear, edited by V. Ceccato, 37-53. Dordrecht: Springer. Balibar, E. 2004. We, the People of Europe?: Reflections on Transnational Citizenship. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Dillabough, J. (in progress). Re-imagining Security and Surveillance: Youth, Conflicted Cities and reimagined urban space. To be submitted Urban Studies. Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. Oxford: Blackwell Press. Sassen, S. (2014). Expulsions: Brutality and Complexity in the Global Economy. Boston, Mass: Harvard University Press.
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