Neo-Nationalism and Universities: Populists, Autocrats and the Future of Higher Education

John Aubrey Douglass

Johns Hopkins University Press forthcoming Summer 2021

With chapter contributions by

Brendan O'Malley
Wilhelm Krull and Thomas Brunotte
Marijk van der Wende
Igor Chirikov and Igor Fedyukin
Karin Fischer
Bryan Penprase
Elizabeth Balbachevsky and José Augusto Guilhon Albuquerque


Neo-Nationalism offers the first significant examination of the rise of Neo-Nationalism and its impact on the missions, activities, behaviors, and productivity of major leading national universities. This book also presents the first major comparative exploration of the role of national politics and norms in shaping the role of universities in nation-states, and vice versa, and discusses when universities are societal leaders or followers -- in promoting a civil society, facilitating talent mobility, in researching challenging social problems, or in reinforcing and supporting an existing social and political order. Universities have been at the forefront of both national development and global integration. They undoubtedly will continue to play this dual role. But the political and policy world in which they operate is undergoing a transition, reflective of a significant change in domestic politics and international relations – a populist turn inwards among a key group of major nations such as China and Hong Kong, Turkey, Hungary, Russia, the UK and the US. This includes attacks on civil liberties and free speech, the firing or jailing of academics, and anti-immigrant rhetoric and restrictions on visas with consequences for the mobility of academic talent. The COVID-19 pandemic is providing an opportunity for nationalist leaders to further consolidate their power. As a result, we are 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. The book explores the concept that universities are important windows for understanding the political nature and trajectory of nations.


PREFACE: Something is Going On

John Aubrey Douglass (Research Professor UC Berkeley)

Chapter 1: Neo Nationalism and Universities in Historical Perspective

John Aubrey Douglass (Research Professor UC Berkeley)

Chapter 2: Neo-Nationalism and Universities: A Conceptual Model

John Aubrey Douglass (Research Professor UC Berkeley)

Chapter 3: The Mystery of Brexit: Tumult and Fatigue in British Higher Education

Brendan O’Malley (Editor University World News)

Chapter 4: Trumpian Nationalism and American Universities

John Aubrey Douglass (Research Professor UC Berkeley)

Chapter 5: Turbulent Times: Intellectual and Institutional Challenges for Universities in Germany, Hungary and Poland

Wilhelm Krull (Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation) and Thomas Brunotte (Executive Officer Volkswagen Foundation)

Chapter 6: Neo-Nationalism and Universities in Europe

Marjik van der Wende (Professor Higher Education Utrecht University)

Chapter 7: Turkish Academics in the Era of Erdoğan

Brendan O’Malley (Editor University World News)

Chapter 8: Nationalism Revived: China’s Universities Under President Xi

Karin Fischer (Chronicle of Higher Education and Research Associate Center for Studies in Higher Education UC Berkeley)

Chapter 9: Balancing Nationalism and Globalism - Higher Education in Singapore and Hong Kong

Bryan E. Penprase (Dean of Faculty Soka University) and John Aubrey Douglass (Research Professor UC Berkeley)

Chapter 10: The Role of Universities in Putin’s Russia: Reinforcing the State

Igor Chirikov (Senior Researcher Center for Studies in Higher Education UC Berkeley) and Igor Fedyukin (Higher School of Economic Moscow)

Chapter 11: Bolsonaro’s Brazilian Neo-Nationalism and Universities

Elizabeth Balbachevsky and José Augusto Guilhon Albuquerque

Contributors Biographies 

José Augusto Guilhon Albuquerque holds a doctorate in Sociology (Université Catholique de Louvain), a Habilitation in Political Science (University of São Paulo, Brazil), where he is Professor of Political Science - retired. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow with the USP’s Research Center for International Relations. He held visiting professorships at Georgetown University, Université Catholique de Louvain, Universidad Central de Venezuela and the Rio Branco Chair at Chatham House. His researches focus on Brazilian Domestic and Foreign Politics. At the University of São Paulo, he founded the Department of Political Science and served as Chief of Staff of the Rector. He also served as Chief of Staff of the State of São Paulo Department of Planning, and as Special Advisor to the Federal Minister of Planning, to the Speaker of the State of São Paulo Assembly, and to the Governor of the State of São Paulo. He published and edited numerous books and several dozens of scholarly articles in English, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese. He has been awarded the "Marcus Garvey Research Award" (Organization of American States), the "National Order of Scientific Honor"(Brazilian Government), “National Order of Defense” (Brazilian Government), the "Order of Ipiranga" (State of São Paulo), and the “Order of Rio Branco” (Brazilian Foreign Ministry).

Elizabeth Balbachevsky is an Associate Professor at the Department of Political Science at the University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil, and Director, Center for Public Policy Research at the Institute for the Advanced of Studies (NUPPs/IEA-USP). Since 2013, she is also an invited lecturer at the Erasmus Mundus Master’s in Research and Innovation in Higher Education (MARIHE) at the Tampere University (TUNI), Finland. She was the Brazilian Ministry of Education´s General Coordinator for policies supporting HE internationalization between 2016 and 2017, a Fullbright New Century Scholar for 2005-2006, an Erasmus Mundus Scholar at the European Master’s in Higher Education Programme (2009). She is also the editor for Latin America in the new Springer’s Encyclopedia of International Higher Education Systems and Institutions

Thomas Brunotte is CEO of the “Hochschullehrerbund” (German association of professors of applied sciences). Until December 2020 he served as an Executive Assistant to the Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation and from 2008 – 2015 as a Program Manager for various funding initiatives. After finishing a “Studium generale” at the Leibniz Kolleg in Tübingen, Thomas Brunotte studied philosophy in Munich, Oxford, Paris, and Göttingen. He finished his doctoral thesis on Aristotle's metaphysics and philosophy of nature in 2009. In 2018 he completed an extra-occupational MBA program in “Education and Science Management” at the University of Oldenburg with a thesis on the autonomy of universities which are governed by independent foundations (Maecenata Institut, Berlin, Opusculum 110).

Igor Chirikov is Senior Researcher and the Director of the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium at the Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley. His research involves student experience and learning outcomes, international comparative higher education (focusing on Russia and China), and organizational change in higher education. His papers were published in Studies in Higher Education, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, Higher Education Research and Development, Post-Soviet Affairs and other journals. His most recent co-edited book “International Status Anxiety and Higher Education: Soviet Legacy in China and Russia” (Springer, 2018) he explores how Soviet model of higher education and global competition impacts higher education systems in China and Russia.

John Aubrey Douglass is Senior Research Fellow and Research Professor - Public Policy and Higher Education at the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of California - Berkeley. His research focuses on globalization and higher education, the role of universities in economic development and socioeconomic mobility, and the history of higher education. He is the author of The New Flagship University: Changing the Paradigm from Global Ranking to National Relevancy (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) and the follow-up book Envisioning the Asian New Flagship University (Berkeley Public Policy Press, 2017), The Conditions for Admissions (Stanford Press 2007), The California Idea and American Higher Education (Stanford University Press, 2000, and with Jud King and Irwin Feller (ed.) Globalization’s Muse: Universities and Higher Education Systems in a Changing World (Public Policy Press, 2009). Among the research projects he founded is the Student Experience in the Research University (SERU) Consortium – a group of major research universities in the US and internationally that conduct survey research on undergraduates and graduate students and with member universities in China, Japan, Brazil, South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK and Russia. He is also the founding editor of the Center's Research and Occasional Paper Series (ROPS).

Igor Fedyukin is Director of the Center for Russian Imperial History at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow. He received his PhD in history from the University North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and was a Diderot Fellow and a Directeur d’Études Associésat Fondation Maison de Science de l’Hommein Paris, a visiting fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars (Washington, DC), and a Prokhorov Foundation fellow at the University of Sheffield. His works appeared in Theory and Society, Slavic Review, Russian Review, Kritika, Journal of Social History, and Journal of Interdisciplinary History, among others, and his monograph The Enterprisers: The Politics of School in Early Modern Russia is forthcoming with Oxford University Press in 2019. In 2012-2013 he was the Vice-Minister of Education and Science of the Russian Federation.

Karin Fischer is a journalist who focuses on higher education and a research associate with the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley. Her primary area of focus is international education, including American colleges' activities overseas, study abroad, the globalization of the college experience, and international-student recruitment, acculturation, and employability. She also writes about higher-education public policy in the states and about the relationship between colleges and the economy. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Monthly, and University World News. A graduate of Smith College, she received the East-West Center's Jefferson Fellowship for reporting in Asia and the International Reporting Project fellowship for work on education and gender, also in Asia. Her work has been honored by the Education Writers Association, the National Press Foundation, and the Poynter Institute.

Wilhelm Krull has been Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation since 1996. After studies in German, philosophy, education, and political science, he held an appointment as a DAAD lecturer at the University of Oxford as well as leading positions at the Wissenschaftsrat (German Council of Science and Humanities) and at the headquarters of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (Max Planck Society). Besides his professional activities in science policy as well as in the promotion and funding of research, he was and still is a member of numerous national, foreign, and international committees. At present he is the Chairman of the Board of the Foundation Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, a member of the Scientific Advisory Commission of the State of Lower Saxony and of the Board of Regents of several Max Planck Institutes. His latest book, Die vermessene Universität (Vienna: Passagen, 2017), deals with the impact of ratings and rankings in the development of European universities.

Brendan O'Malley is Chairman of Higher Education Web Publishing, publisher of University World News, and Managing Editor of the same global higher education publication. As a consultant for international organisations including UNESCO he has specialised for many years in research into political and military violence against education students, staff and institutions. He was author of the first two global studies on this issue, Education under Attack (UNESCO, 2007) and Education under Attack 2010 (UNESCO) and lead author of the third such study, Education under Attack 2014 (GCPEA). He has addressed many international conferences on both this issue and international relations related to the UK and US foreign policy and the Eastern Mediterranean. He is author of The Cyprus Conspiracy: America, Espionage and the Turkish Invasion (IB Taurus, 1999), which was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize and was a Guardian Book of the Year. He is a member of the non-partisan all-party Parliamentary Group Friends of Cyprus, which seeks a peaceful settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Bryan Penprase is Dean of Faculty at Soka University America, where he is developing new initiatives in Global Liberal Arts, as well as a new interdisciplinary Life Science concentration, and has been working on a variety of topics in global higher education and STEM education both as an academic leader and as a researcher in astrophysics. Prior to coming to Soka University of America, he was a founding faculty member of the Yale-NUS College in Singapore, where he served as the inaugural director of the Yale-NUS Centre for Teaching and Learning. In 2012-13 he served at Yale University as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow, where he was one of the authors of the blueprint for the Yale-NUS College Curriculum, and advised Yale’s President Salovey and the Yale Provost on topics ranging from online learning, Math education at Yale, and Teaching and Learning Centers. Dr. Penprase was a professor for 20 years at Pomona College, where he served as Chair of Physics and Astronomy, and worked on several projects related online learning and international liberal arts. Dr. Penprase received his BS in Physics and an MS in Applied Physics from Stanford University and a PhD from the University of Chicago in Astronomy and Astrophysics, with a postdoctoral fellowship at Caltech, before beginning his career as a professor and academic leader.

Marijk van der Wende is Distinguished Faculty Professor of Higher Education at Utrecht University’s Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance. Her research focuses on the impact of globalization and internationalization on higher education systems, institutions, curricula, and teaching and learning arrangements. She is also an affiliate faculty and research associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education (CSHE) at the University of California Berkeley, Guest Professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University and member of the International Advisory Board of its Graduate School of Education. She is a member of the Academy of Europe and has been a chair and member of numerous national and international advisory committees and editorial boards. Previously she held full professorial positions at CHEPS, University of Twente, VU University Amsterdam, and was a visiting scholar at Harvard University (Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and Graduate School of Education), Shanghai Jiao Tong University (Center for World-Class Universities and Graduate School of Education), UC Berkeley (CSHE), and Boston College (Centre for International Higher Education). She served as Dean of Graduate Studies at Utrecht University, Founding Dean of Amsterdam University College, President of the programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education (IMHE) of the OECD, member of the Higher Education Authority Ireland, the Scientific Board of the Dutch Military Academy, and a range of other boards and advisory bodies.

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