The ERA-CRN has had a Section accepted at the 7th ECPR General Conference to be held in Bordeaux, France, from 4 until 7th September 2013. The Section is entitled ‘Europe of Knowledge (Education, Higher Education and Research Policy)’ and includes no less than SEVEN panels. These are as follows:
1. Universities and European Integration at a Time of Crisis: A Double Trust Problem?
Abstract: European integration (bottom-up) and Europeanisation (top-down) of higher education (HE), in comparison to other policy sectors (e.g. research), are expected to face increased obstacles at times of crisis. Firstly, according to the subsidiarity principle, HE is a national competence. Indeed, the recognition of qualifications in regulated professions is the only area in which binding EU directives have been adopted; all existing initiatives – either EU or pan-European (e.g. the Bologna Process) – in the HE field are voluntary. Secondly, HE systems and institutions are generally resistant to change due to the ‘bottom-heaviness’, ‘loose-coupling’ and importance of professional autonomy. This means that the Europeanisation of HE is likely to be incremental and partial even during ordinary times. It is assumed that the current crisis, or, rather, the multiplicity of crises related to the economic downturn, fiscal instability, perception of democratic deficit associated with the handling of the crisis, and decreased trust in European institutions, may lead governments to withdraw support from HE and focus on other ‘more pressing’ concerns. This panel invites contributions that address the following questions: How has the cooperation in the HE field responded to the multiplicity of crises in Europe? Has there only been one response or could we identify several (and are they complementary or contradictory)? Could we conclude that European HE initiatives have lost their momentum due to the crisis or have they become more robust and resilient? HE was exported to other sectors as a ‘solution’ previously, has this continued to be the case? In situations where governments have decreased their support (e.g. funding) for HE, how have HE institutions reacted? Did these institutions turn to the EU for support and, in so doing, increased their trust and interest in European HE initiatives?
2. A Competitive European Knowledge Economy at Times of Crisis: Are the Talents Coming?
Abstract: The Europe of Knowledge requires a sufficient number of knowledge workers to generate the necessary ‘manpower’ for consolidating a competitive knowledge economy. This has contributed to a new emphasis in immigration policies in recent years: –national governments have changed their policies in order to attract ‘the best and brightest’, but attempts in the European Union (EU) are also visible. Indeed, many countries and regions have been engaging in a ‘global war for talent’ due to increasing labour shortages, ageing populations and efforts to build knowledge economies. However, even high-skilled immigration creates winners and losers internationally and at home, and this question is even more pertinent with the recent economic crisis. Has Europe become more restrictive towards foreign talent and, if so, how? Or does it consider them as a stimulus during the crisis? How have different EU member states responded? Are talents coming to Europe or choosing instead other destinations, such as Australia, Canada and the United States? Are there changes to recent talent migration trends and, if so, how could we explain them? This panel focuses on talent migration during the crisis and seeks papers with a comparative approach – be it at the national, European or regional level. It encourages papers analysing policies from countries of destination and countries of origin, and those dealing with immigration policy outputs or outcomes. The papers should include a strong theoretical emphasis, drawing on the literature from migration/education studies and the wider political science discipline. Papers with quantitative and qualitative approaches are welcome, and so are contributions from immigration scholars and policy-makers.
3. State-University Relationships at Times of Crisis
Abstract: The relations between state and university can be analyzed according to autonomy and control, as well as according to system integration. Such arrangements vary with political, societal and economic conditions. At times of crisis, the regimes underpinning the functioning of the state, of higher education (HE) as well as of other policy sectors may be challenged and reformed. Since the 80s HE systems have undergone reforms aimed at ‘modernizing’ the relationship between higher education institutions (HEIs), the state and society. These are intended, among others, to grant more autonomy to HEIs, with the assumption that, by being free to act strategically, universities can achieve greater efficiency, effectiveness, responsiveness, and European/global competitiveness. However, more recently, governments have adapted these reform foci by seeking to (re-)establish control and coordination and to enhance system integration. Some of these changes are carried out within general public sector reforms addressing public sector fragmentation and loss of political control. This panel seeks to investigate how different waves of reforms occur and impact HE systems and universities by examining the factors and conditions facilitating and/or hindering institutional change. In particular it intends to explore how the recent crisis – economic, financial, but also political and institutional – has influenced the organization and functioning of HE in Europe. 1) How do reforms with distinct rationales (e.g. deregulation and reregulation) intertwine and affect system complexity, integration, centralization, as well as state capacity of coordination? 2) How and in which dimensions has the relationship between university and state changed, particularly regarding institutional autonomy and control? 3) How are European level structures addressing and/or affecting system integration and loss of political control in HE systems and how are they linked to HEIs? 4) How do various types of HEIs, especially research intensive universities, react to such pressures for change?
4. Constructing the European Research Area in Times of Crisis
Abstract: Amidst the financial crisis, the nature of the European Research Area (ERA) is seemingly changing. The advent of the Horizon 2020 framework programme (2014-2020), which encourages a market-driven approach to tackle ‘societal’ challenges, suggests a shift away from ‘pure’ knowledge generation towards the innovation of viable products with immediate commercial potential. With such an emphasis on producing marketable deliverables for profit, this panel asks whether policies emanating from the ERA are likely to strike a balance between the respective demands from the market, research communities and society. For instance, to what extent is the current projected vision of the ERA in danger of moving away from the motivations and expectations of scientists and researchers at the grassroots of the European innovation chain? Could the aims of the market be reached via such a strong push to ‘bring ideas to the market’? If so, what could be done to ensure that the ‘essence’ of science and research is not lost? What systems must be in place to safeguard and increase trust between policy-makers, scientists and citizens? Could the ERA be constructed in such a way so as to simultaneously address the needs of all stakeholders? If not, who ‘should’ be the ‘winners’ and ‘losers’? And, most importantly, who decides? This panel invites contributions from all theoretical and methodological schools addressing the above questions that would allow us to reflect on the impact that the crisis has had on the construction of the ERA. All papers should touch on whether the trend we are currently observing has been in the making since 2000 and the crisis merely expedited this process, or if the crisis is actually a critical juncture in the history of European research cooperation and governance so that the reactions we are seeing now indicate future pathways.
5. Universities, International Elites and Knowledge Production: A Global History in the Making?
Abstract: Universities are central to the process of knowledge production and diffusion. Elite universities, moreover, have a crucial role in the selection, socialisation and reproduction of national and global elites. Interestingly, international relations scholars have yet to fully examine the role of the University as a powerful actor on the world stage. This panel explores this theme and investigates how universities and academic professionals who work in these institutions serve as agents of diffusion (across borders, across sectors) and respond to internal and external pressures to transmit knowledge and ‘bring ideas to the market’. This perspective is especially interesting in light of the current economic climate and is essential to making sense of the complex processes underpinning the consolidation of the Europe of Knowledge (i.e. these processes do not occur in isolation but in parallel with other regional developments). Academia has long served as the global bridge between diverse societies and cultures. Indeed, universities are enmeshed in what de Sola Pool refers to as the invisible college – a global intellectual network in which elite institutions serve as nodes. Given the ‘crisis’ context (past and present), to what extent has the international systems of higher education changed with respect to existing dominant patterns of diffusion of ideas and knowledge? Are the elite global universities today equally as, or even more, influential than in the past? Or have the budget cuts prevalent in the last few years at these institutions paved the way for newer and richer institutions to set the global agendas and influence prevailing political and social discourses? And how does variation in the safeguards associated with academic freedom such as tenure affect the ability of universities to serve as global agents of diffusion? To address these questions, this panel invites papers with strong theoretical perspective and rigorous empirical analysis.
6. The Euro Crisis and the Situation of Human Resources in the Europe of Knowledge
Abstract: During the first decade of the 21st century, the European Union has substantially increased the efforts to promote mobility (both inter-territorial and inter-sector), as well as to create an adequate environment for the human resources involved in academic, research, and innovation activities. In the line of the section, this panel is oriented to explore the consequences of the financial crisis the European Union and, particularly, some countries in the Euro zone are experiencing since 2009 in the situation of university and research human resources and the related policies. We welcome papers examining any of the different facets of this situation – from studies analyzing the consequences of the crisis in the governance, design, or implementation of the different strategies (EHEA process, ERA process) and policies at the EU or member State level directed to promote the above mentioned goals in the construction of a ‘Europe of Knowledge’ in the human resources, to those focused on the particular manifestations of financial strains on the particular conditions of researchers or academic personnel (organizational recruitment, career management, brain drain, changes in labour conditions, etc).
7. Boundaries of the Europe of Knowledge
Abstract: This panel aims at contributing to the analysis of how Europe of knowledge is redefined and transformed at times of crises (i.e. the meaning of the Europe of knowledge project, its relative position to other European policies, the alteration of governance mechanisms etc.).
In this panel, we choose to investigate these potential redefinition and transformation through the question of the boundaries of the Europe of knowledge. Different types of boundaries will be considered. Some contributions of the panel will study geographical boundaries: Is there a renewed importance to national boundaries and competences or on the contrary a mechanism of more delegation to the European level (searching for more funding)? What about the Europe of knowledge in relations to other regions in the world? What initiatives are in place beyond the European Union and how do they impact developments in Europe (e.g. how have they evolved with the crisis)? Secondly, this panel aims to explore what is at play at sectoral boundaries. As a segment of European policy space, Europe of knowledge incorporates different policy sectors connected to the production, transmission and diffusion of knowledge. The boundaries between these sectors (for instance, higher education and research, education and lifelong learning, research and innovation) might be reinterpreted with the actual economic and political crisis, they might as well be a place of friction and reallocation of power. Finally, this panel would also consider to what extent the crisis is affecting the public / private boundaries in the Europe of knowledge. Can we observe that knowledge policies are understood as problem solvers to restore employment and competitiveness and therefore remain a priority for public intervention, or can we rather observe strategies to foster the mobilization of the private sector in times of cut of public spending? Or both combined?