CGHE Webinar 314

Geography is our friend: Space and scale in higher education

Date: Thursday, 10 November 2022 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Location: Zoom webinar, registration required

Event Materials

This event is now archived and we are pleased to provide the following event media and assets, along with the original event overview.

Drawing on insights from human geography, especially Doreen Massey’s work, and empirical insights, the presentation puts together elements of a theorization of space and scale in higher education. Space is not something that was always there, like an empty aircraft hanger waiting to be filled. Space is a sphere of social relations and is continually created by humans. Spaces in higher education are formed in the interaction of three elements: (1) material conditions and resources, such as inherited institutions and funding regimes; (2) imaginings, ideas and discourses, such as the market imaginary, or global cosmopolitanism; (3) social practices in programmes, organisations etc. Making new space is a crucial means of innovating in higher education. Higher education is also multi-scalar sector where individual and institutional agents have open possibilities and are often active in more than one of the local, national, regional and global scales (dimensions) of activity. No single scale is the master scale or always leading scale: global activity in higher education continues to grow; the nation-state is crucial in policy, regulation and funding; and like the other scales the local scale in higher education and knowledge is continually being remade and newly invented. Activities in the different scales intersect, and causation shifts between them. The presentation will critique ideas of fixed scalar primacy, such as methodological nationalism and methodological globalism, which are influential in studies of higher education (methodological nationalism is especially strong) but are radically limiting of what we can imagine and practise. The single-scale visions and scale-driven universals must be cleared away to bring a fuller geography of higher education to life.

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