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CFP: ECPR 2016 section on ‘Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation’

This is a global call for the ECPR 2016 ‘Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation’ section (formerly Europe of Knowledge) endorsed by the proposed Standing Group of the same name.

The ECPR General Conference will be held on 7-10 September 2016 in Prague, Czech Republic.

You will find below the section abstract along with short panel abstracts and the contact details of the panel organisers. Extended CFPs for each panel will be circulated and posted on the CRN’s site in the coming weeks.

If you are interested in submitting a paper to one of these panels please contact the panel chair(s) directly (contacts are below) to discuss your ideas before the 24th of January 2016 or submit an abstract independently to the section before the formal deadline (15 February 2016) via MyECPR. Please note that ECPR only allows individuals to perform each conference function (including paper presenter) once within the academic programme, though multiple co-authorship is possible.


Section description:

Knowledge policies are at the forefront of contemporary global politics and are seen as the foundation on which societies coalesce and economies thrive. This section builds on the previous four sections on the Europe of Knowledge and invites contributions from around the world to consider the various dimensions of knowledge policy development. Specifically, we are interested in theoretical, empirical, and comparative contributions that investigate the role of the ‘four I’s’ – ideas, interests, instruments and institutions – in the global, multi-level, multi-issue, and multi-actor governance of knowledge policies, including failures and successes. By ‘role’, we refer to effects that ideas, actors (individual, organisational), policy instruments/mixes, and institutions have had on the governance of knowledge policies, and vice-versa. We focus on ‘roles’ to enable a multidisciplinary discussion on whether these factors share defining characteristics across different knowledge policy domains (i.e. research, higher education, and innovation), and between distinct governance levels and geographical regions. This section continues to welcome scholars from all theoretical and methodological approaches to critically discuss the reconfiguration of knowledge systems around the world.


Panel being developed:


  1. Applying complex systems theory to higher education and research policy

Co-chairs/Co-discussants: Mitchell Young (Charles University in Prague) – and Julie Birkholz (University of Ghent) –

Describing political and policy phenomena as complex has become commonplace; however, the term is often used without reference to the scientific study of complex systems. Papers in this panel may take either a qualitative, quantitative or mixed approach, but will all rigorously attempt to apply key concepts in complex systems theory to the study of higher education and/or research.


  1. Researching the governance of knowledge policies: methodological and conceptual challenges

Co-chairs/Co-discussants: Mads Sørensen (Aarhus University) – and Mari Elken (NIFU) –

Research and higher education policy studies often take the state as a starting point for analysis, which may lead to ‘methodological nationalism’ and limit the scope of analysis in an increasingly interconnected world. We invite papers that examine (empirically, theoretically) such methodologies and the role of the nation state as well as supranational and sub-national arenas in knowledge policy studies. We aim to identify sector-specific methodological and conceptual challenges and highlight alternative (multi-level) approaches and foci.


  1. Knowledge policies in cross-sectoral comparison

Chair/discussant: Pauline Ravinet (Universite de Lille 2) –

Higher education and research policies have been subjected to structured examination, but works on these issues rarely engage in a systematic comparison with policy developments in other sectors. What could we learn by doing more cross-sectoral comparison? This panel invites papers engaging in comparisons of higher education and/or research policies with other policy areas (theoretical policy design papers as well as empirical papers are welcome).


  1. Market-making of, in, and around European higher education

Chair: Janja Komljenovic (University of Bristol) –

Discussant: Susan Robertson (University of Bristol)

This panel’s focus is the study of market-making in the higher education sector; it aims to analyse the outcomes of marketizing the higher education sector and to develop conceptual grammars and analytical approaches that would allow unpacking of the complexities of marketizing processes. The panel is interested in papers that address: how markets get constructed, for whose benefit, by which actors, and with what consequences and outcomes for the sector and society at large?


  1. Transnational actors in higher education, research, and innovation

Co-chairs/Co-discussants: Tatiana Fumasoli (University of Oslo) – and Martina Vukasovic (Ghent University) –

The panel will focus on the role and influence of transnational actors (academic and university associations, experts, funding councils, students etc.) in knowledge policymaking. These actors operate across governance levels, bringing new ideas, advancing the interests of their constituencies and re-shaping the institutional arrangements of policymaking in the area of knowledge. The panel welcomes papers which explore how these emerging actors participate in the policy arena and what impact they may have on policy decisions.


  1. The politicisation of knowledge policies: actors in national arenas

Chair: Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo) –

Knowledge policies are becoming politically salient and increasingly politicised. Yet our understanding of the actors involved in knowledge policymaking in different countries, the constraints they face from their institutional environment, and their interplay and preferences is still limited. Papers are invited to investigate the roles of different actors (e.g. political parties),the interplay between them and their institutional environment across all stages of policymaking.


  1. Politics of access in higher education systems 

Chair/Discussant: Beverly Barrett (University of Houston) –

In recent years, we observe a proliferation of national and regional strategies for increasing access to higher education around the world: in Africa, Asia, Latin America, North America and Europe. Indeed, the European drive to consolidate the European Higher Education Area (EHEA) has higher educational attainment as an explicit objective. This panel invites contributions that compare and examine the extent to which these initiatives to support learning objectives and graduation outcomes are innovative and effective.


  1. Policy failures in the knowledge domain

Chair/discussant: Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU, Singapore) –

Higher education, research, and innovation policy domains have undergone dramatic changes in recent decades. Embedded in these changes are assumptions about failure and learning, and the belief that the ‘new and novel’ would ‘right’ the ‘wrongs’. Yet our understanding of the failure-learning mechanism remains under-developed. Indeed, social scientists often conflate three distinct types of failure—politics, policy, and instruments—in their analyses. This panel invites papers that seek to identify and unpack the failure-learning mechanism, if any, operational in specific knowledge policy changes.


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