Meet the Author: Neo-Nationalism and Universities

Webinar| September 14 | 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. PDT | Video

Event is co-sponsored by  The Center for Right Wing Studies here at Berkeley and University World News.

Author - John Aubrey Douglass - Senior Research Fellow CSHE
Moderator - George Blumenthal - CSHE Director and Chancellor Emeritus UC Santa Cruz

Universities have long been at the forefront of both national development and global integration. But the political and policy world in which they operate is undergoing a transition, one that is reflective of a significant change in domestic politics and international relations: a populist turn inward among a key group of nation-states often led by demagogues that include China and Hong Kong, Turkey, Hungary, Russia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the Trump era in the United States. In many parts of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity for populists and autocrats to further consolidate their power. Within right-wing political ecosystems, universities, in effect, offer the proverbial canary in the coal mine—a window into the extent of civil liberties and the political environment and trajectory of nation-states.

In Neo-Nationalism and Universities: Populists, Autocrats, and the Future of Higher Education, John Aubrey Douglass provides the first significant examination of the rise of neo-nationalism and its impact on the missions, activities, behaviors, and productivity of leading national universities. Douglass presents a major comparative exploration of the role of national politics and norms in shaping the role of universities in nation-states—and vice versa. He also explores when universities are societal leaders or followers: When they are agents of social and economic change, or simply agents reinforcing and supporting an existing social and political order.

In a series of case studies that include China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Russia, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, Germany, the UK and the US, Douglass and chapter contributors examine troubling trends that threaten the societal role of universities, including attacks on civil liberties and free speech, despairing the validity of science, the firing and jailing of academics, and anti-immigrant rhetoric and restrictions on visas with consequences for the mobility of academic talent. Neo-Nationalism and Universities is written for a broad public readership interested and concerned about the rise of nationalist movements, illiberal democracies, and autocratic leaders.

With Contributing Chapters by José Augusto Guilhon Albuquerque and Elizabeth Balbachevsky, Thomas Brunotte and Wilhelm Krull, Igor Chirikov and Igor Fedyukin, Karin Fischer, , Brendan O'Malley, Bryan E. Penprase, and Marijk van der Wende.


  • “Neo-Nationalism and Universities is timely and a welcomed study of the impact of these movements on higher education, especially in the realm of academic freedom and freedom of speech. Of special value is the book’s exploration on the role universities play in accommodating and providing ideological cover for authoritarian and totalitarian rule.” — Vartan Gregorian, President Carnegie Corporation of New York
  • “Far from treating neo-nationalism as a monolithic wave, the contributors to this necessary book reveal its alerting and growing influence, providing a subtle and thorough analysis of the variety of its forms and consequences.” — Christine Musselin, Sciences Po and CNRS, author of The Market for Academics and The Long March of French Universities
  • “The leading higher education scholar John Aubrey Douglass has brought together an outstanding group of collaborators to examine one of the most disturbing trends of our time, the impact of illiberal nationalist movements on intellectual life.” — Steven Brint, University of California –Riverside, author of Two Cheers for Higher Education
  • “This brilliantly insightful, well evidenced book by John Douglass and his international collaborators. It is not only timely and essential reading for today’s researchers, policy makers, educational leaders and engaged members of the wider public, it will stand for decades as the pivotal text on the topic.” — Maria Slowey, Professor and Director, Higher Education Research Centre (HERC), Dublin City University
  • “Attempts to silence academics and control universities places democracy, development, and social well-being at risk. This book is an important warning for academics worldwide that democracy is fragile, and that Universities must be the frontline in the battle for its protection.” — Marcelo Knobel, Professor of Physics and former Rector at the University of Campinas, Brazil
  • “Well informed, carefully grounded in astute research, and revelatory in its findings and implications, this book is also clearly written and easily understood – a stimulating set of insights for any reader who cares about universities and their future.”— Daniel Fallon, Professor Emeritus of Public Policy, University of Maryland at College Park, author of The German University: A Heroic Ideal in Conflict with the Modern World
  • “Saying that this book addresses a timely and critical issue is an understatement. Even more importantly it presents a variety of national and comparative chapters that highlight the complexities and nuances of the national dimensions of higher education.” — Pedro Nuno Teixeira- Faculty of Economics and Director - CIPES - Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies, University of Porto

For more information on the book, see the Neo-Nationalism and Universities: Populists, Autocrats and the Future of Higher Education CSHE book webpage.