CGHE Seminar 121

CGHE series on international and global higher education – seminar 2: The global and the post-colonial

  • Thursday, 21 Nov 2019 12:00 - 14:00
  • Room A, Department of Education, University of Oxford
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What is the international or global space in higher education and how do we understand it? Scholar-researchers apply a range of disciplinary lenses and methods. Geography plays a key role in many but not all studies of student mobility or global science. Others analyse these dynamics through an economic or policy studies or linguistic frame. Some are hunting for an elusive universal perspective, others are very mindful of national or cultural differences. Some are especially attentive to the challenges facing education in emerging countries. Some look for signs of their own country everywhere they look, others are fascinated by what they see as foreign exotica, others are post-colonial. Many who research ‘internationalisation’ as student mobility and other cross-border connections, or work on ‘global competences’, don’t necessarily research comparative education in a rigorous manner, or take account of the literature on development education. The interesting and productive differences between an ‘international’, ‘comparative’ and a ‘global’ perspective are rarely discussed.

These differences shape the contents and impacts of higher education research and scholarship. The contrary knowledge produced in this field shapes our global imagining in fragmented ways – is the diversity always fruitful? Should we work to develop a common view? This series will explore six different approaches to imagining and investigating international higher education, highlighting similarities and differences between them, and drawing the participant audience into active discussion.

The CGHE Seminar series on international and global higher education continues as David Mills and Simon Marginson present on the theme of ‘The global and the post-colonial’. The event will be chaired by Xin Xu.

Book your place at seminar 2 here.

Details of other seminars in the series here.

What is ‘global’ higher education?
Simon Marginson

View the presentation slides.

What is the global in higher education and how does it relate to the national domain where institutions and persons are primarily funded and ordered? To grasp this we need to set aside some common assumptions. First, the global and the international are not identities, or ‘dimensions’ integrated into the ‘purpose, functions or delivery’ of education in one university or nation. They can only exist as relationships. Second, global relations are understood in terms of connectedness – people, institutions and ideas crossing borders – but while connections are certainly part of the picture, to define the global in this manner leaves us stuck at the rim of the ‘national container’. We need a way of imagining the global in higher education that brings it into open view, enhances its potential value and interrogates relations of power within it (relationships are not always symmetrical), even while national and local phenomena can also freely appear. The paper will argue that the global is most usefully understood in terms of relational systems at the world and world-regional level, and globalisation as the process of integration on this scale. Just as national higher education is a process of nation-state building, globalisation in higher education and science is a process of world-building. Global systems are partial and uneven, but higher education – especially its knowledge-intensive components – is among the most global of all human activities and constitutes a form of global civil society.

From anti-colonial to post-global and back again: Geopolitical imaginaries and the study of ‘global’ higher education
David Mills

For anticolonial nationalists like Kwame Nkrumah and Nnamdi Azikiwe, the post-war British ‘Asquith’ university colleges represented a second colonialization of the African continent. Instead, Nkrumah argued, such universities, once planted, should ‘take root amidst African traditions and cultures’. These early postcolonial critiques shaped the evolution and Africanisation of universities like Makerere and Dar-es-Salaam. Contemporary visions for ‘post-developmental’ higher education, ‘pluriversities’, or knowledge decolonisation also seek to redefine the contours of higher education systems. In order to understand the influence of these contested geopolitical imaginaries on the field of ‘global’ higher education studies, this paper explores the relationship between policy scholarship, epistemic politics and disciplinary loyalties.

You can listen to the seminar here:

Simon Marginson

Simon Marginson

Simon Marginson is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford, Director of the ESRC/OFSRE Centre for Global Higher Education (CGHE), Joint Editor-in-Chief of Higher Education, and Lead Researcher with Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Simon’s research is focused primarily on global and international higher education, the contributions of higher education and higher education as a public and common good, and higher education and social inequality. At Oxford he leads the MSc (Education) subject on ‘Global higher education’. His recent books include Higher Education in Federal Countries, edited with Martin Carnoy, Isak Froumin and Oleg Leshukov (Sage, 2018) and High Participation Systems of Higher Education, edited with Brendan Cantwell and Anna Smolentseva (Oxford University Press, 2018).

David Mills

David Mills

David Mills is Associate Professor (Pedagogy and the Social Sciences) at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education. He directs the Grand Union ESRC doctoral training partnership, an Oxford-led training collaboration with Open University and Brunel University London. Trained in anthropology, he has published work on disciplinarity, higher education policy, doctoral education and African universities. His current interests include the politics of higher education capacity building in Africa. His books include “Ethnography and Education” (Sage 2013), “Difficult Folk: A political history of social anthropology” (Berghahn 2008) and the co-edited “African Anthropologies: History, Practice, Critique” (Zed 2006).

Xin Xu

Xin Xu

Xin Xu is an ESRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at CGHE, Department of Education, and a Junior Research Fellow at Kellogg College, University of Oxford.

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