New Nationalism and Universities: Global Perspectives on Politics and Policy and the Future of Higher Education

Conference Objectives

Nationalistic reactions to globalism, broadly defined, has resulted in a fast-moving shift in national alliances and trade policies, and in revised restrictions on immigration symbolized by Brexit and recent policies of the new Trump administration. In Turkey, the solidification of national power – its own form of New Nationalism following a coup attempt - is having a profound impact on its universities. In Europe, New Nationalism movements are found in Poland, France and the Netherlands that may further tear at the European Union and the concept of a European Higher Education Area. In Russia, nationalism and arbitrary crackdowns on dissidents has led to many important scholars leaving the country. China has engaged in political rhetoric against western forms of learning and influence in its universities. The possibility of trade wars may engulf regions in new restrictions on intellectual property.

We may be entering an era that will alter the flow of global talent, the opportunities for joint research and for shared research agendas across national borders. There is also the reality or prospectus of declining institutional autonomy, new infringements on academic freedom, and new restrictions on the financial vitality of public universities. CSHE is uniquely positioned to draw leading scholars and practitioners to reflect and analyze this important historical moment. 

The conference explored the following questions comparatively, from sub-Sahara Africa, to Europe, South America, the US and Asia, and with reference to five interrelated “Policy Realms.”

  • To what extent is nationalism, in its emerging form, a countervailing force to the international engagement of leading national universities?
  • With the rise of nationalism, how are leading national universities reshaping their roles in specific regions of the world? How are their activities and role in society being restricted?
  • Are there concepts, policies, alliances and influence that universities and their political allies might formulate to help promote the free flow of talent, collaborations, and ideas that characterize the best leading national flagship universities?
Policy Realms
  • Academic Freedom and Civil LibertiesHow and to what degree are national governments restricting or influencing freedom of speech and teaching and learning within universities?
  • Institutional Autonomy and University Governance – To what degree are governments seeking controls and steering of universities, and influencing their management capacity to meet government political needs?
  • Talent Mobility and Immigration – What national policies are emerging and influencing the in-flow and out-flow of academic and student talent?
  • Universities, Knowledge Production and Intellectual Property – Do current or potential trade restrictions, sanctions and government controls on IP related to New Nationalism have an impact on the international market for ideas and inventions? These questions were formulated in the midst of threats of ending or revising trade agreements and growing restriction and controls over information.
  • Universities and International Engagement – How do nationalistic government priorities shape and possibly restrict the ability of universities to engage with the international community?