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Balancing Global Competition, Regional Partnerships and Community Engagement in the 21 st Century Research University: A WUN Virtual Seminar. Mark S. Johnson Department of Educational Policy Studies University of Wisconsin-Madison March 16, 2010.

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Balancing Global Competition, Regional Partnerships and Community Engagement in the 21st Century Research University: A WUN Virtual Seminar

Mark S. Johnson

Department of Educational Policy Studies

University of Wisconsin-Madison

March 16, 2010

theoretical and conceptual frameworks world culture theory neo institutionalism
Theoretical and conceptual frameworks: world culture theory/neo-institutionalism?
  • Recent turn in world culture theory and neo-institutionalism to extend insights based on alleged global models of “schooling” to higher education; focus on convergence of curricular and development patterns; global “isomorphism” of university organization and policy trends;
  • For example, alleged alignment of global higher education curricula (Frank and Gabler, 2006); but also of universities becoming “organizational actors” in new ways (Krucken and Meier, 2006).
theoretical and conceptual frameworks world culture theory neo institutionalism3
Theoretical and conceptual frameworks: world culture theory/neo-institutionalism?
  • In fact, complex mix of convergence and sharp divergence across higher education systems:
  • Yes, “organizational accountability” has risen (through new public management, audits, culture of evaluation), yet national and regional capacity and quality of such tools diverges;
  • Yes, new push to “own” the university through mission statements and drives for greater autonomy (to be “market-smart and mission-centered,” Zemsky, Wagner and Massy, 2005), even as battered by competition with new rivals;
global convergence and he competition rankings and the risk of isomorphism
Global convergence and HE competition: rankings and the “risk of isomorphism”?
  • However, an open question in world culture theory and neo-institutionalism is whether such convergence is good or bad – clearly good that normative values of individuality and equality are spreading, but what of the costs or other risks?
  • In global higher education, there is clearly a very high degree of risk associated with the spread of particular frameworks for global competition, as shaped especially by global university ranking systems, all accelerated sharply since 2003.
theoretical and conceptual frameworks world culture theory neo institutionalism5
Theoretical and conceptual frameworks: world culture theory/neo-institutionalism?
  • Yes, ongoing creation of increasingly complex administrative “lattices” and technical structures around the evolving goals of outreach, service, public-private partnerships, and management, yet again often in distinctive national patterns;
  • Yes, emergence of “entrepreneurial” faculty and university leaders, yet still (at least in some cases) constrained by disciplinary practices and traditions of institutional and shared governance.
  • In other words – some shared global patterns, but also real national and institutional variations?
key driver of convergence the second generation of global university rankings
Key driver of convergence: The “second generation” of global university rankings?
  • Grew out of the “first generation” (since 1983), largely commercial and media-driven, such as U.S. News and World Reports (1983, and others), almost all of which were only national; based on some data about admissions and selectivity, but largely on “reputational” surveys;
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Academic Rankings of World Universities (ARWU, since 2003); Times Higher Education Supplement survey of world universities (since 2004), shifted the debate toward narrow forms of competition.
the second generation of global university rankings 2003 to present arwu thes
The “second generation” of global university rankings, 2003 to present (ARWU, THES):
  • Positive dimensions of new rankings: to meet intense interest on part of parents, students, and policymakers in tools for accountability and comparative measures of academic quality;
  • Negative effects: focus on research measures (codified in citation indexes, English-language publications, skewed to natural and physical sciences, prizes and other medals, etc.), has eclipsed attention to educational mission and perhaps especially to outreach and service;
the second generation of global university rankings 2003 to present
The “second generation” of global university rankings, 2003 to present:
  • Other negative effects: often distorted or grossly simplified in media accounts, focus on national “failures” to compete (media furors in Malaysia, Russia, France, etc.) with little attention to deeper causes of disinvestment in public HE or complex patterns of university development;
  • Rankings neglect two-year and other mission-specific institutions; rankings often fail to account for complex historical legacies or specialized missions of particular types of institutions, such as vocational-technical and minority HEIs.
now a third generation of university rankings beyond simplistic comparisons
Now a “third generation” of university rankings, beyond simplistic comparisons?
  • Led by German Center for Higher Education (CHE) system (1998), allows for dynamic on-line comparisons between criteria and capacities of different degree programs (very user-friendly, but not then compiled as institutional rankings);
  • Recent turn to more qualitative projects such as European Research Index on the Humanities (ERIH, and other European Science Foundation projects), which seek to expand citation criteria and measures of research productivity to allow for variations between disciplines and nations;
where will the third or fourth generation of global university rankings lead
Where will the “third (or fourth) generation” of global university rankings lead?
  • Thus, to pose the essential dilemma of this talk: how can universities (not just elite institutions) acknowledge the inevitability and urgency of global competition (shaped in the media and public mind by simplistic ranking systems), yet at the same time balance this necessary attention to the imperatives of internationalization with new approaches to regional partnerships and especially to local or community engagement?
  • In context of public anxiety about the “Great Recession” and declining public revenues, HEIs must address all three domains simultaneously.
reinventing the research enterprise in the context of revitalized education and service
Reinventing the research enterprise in the context of revitalized education and service:
  • Too often, the global, regional and community domains are conceived of as mutually exclusive, or as conflicting missions – how can they be rethought to be mutually reinforcing and linked?
  • As the third and possibly fourth generation of university ranking systems evolves, how can they be designed to highlight and reinforce the relevance of such regional and local missions?
  • How should incentive structures and faculty practices change to allow for this new balance between global, regional and local missions?
earlier turning points that failed to turn or that got eclipsed by global ranking debate
Earlier turning points that failed to turn? Or that got eclipsed by global ranking debate?
  • In fact, powerful trends in U.S. and other HE systems in 1990s and 2000s to address just this need for a dynamic balance between three domains, but reforms eclipsed in public mind and policy debates by politically-driven issues?
  • Innovative HE reforms globally to balance and integrate the global, regional and local domains, but they remain under-researched, and thus have not acted as strong policy signals; masked by methodological biases in ranking systems?
earlier turning points that failed to turn or that got eclipsed by global rankings debate
Earlier turning points that failed to turn? Or that got eclipsed by global rankings debate?
  • These trends – and the “slippage” between the dynamic innovations within higher education and the frequent misunderstandings among wider publics, highlight the need for several changes:
  • First, there needs to be more collaboration for research on comparative and international higher education, to illuminate such trends;
  • Second, higher education researchers need to engage in more systematic outreach to publics and policymakers in order to contextualize such rankings, and to offer alternatives (?), such as:
reinventing the role of undergraduate education and research in u s universities
Reinventing the role of undergraduate education and research in U.S. universities?
  • National Science Foundation AIRE (Awards for the Integration of Research and Education) and other programs (1997 to present), to foster experiential student research in STEM fields;
  • Boyer Commission, Reinventing Undergraduate Education: A Blueprint for America’s Research Universities (1998), which drew together an array of key trends from policy and practice:
  • Research as “gold-standard” for all students;
  • Inquiry-based first year experience for students;
reinventing the role of undergraduate education and research in u s universities15
Reinventing the role of undergraduate education and research in U.S. universities?
  • Coherence and sequence within disciplinary frameworks or major programs, yet linked throughout to innovative interdisciplinary inquiry;
  • Systematic training in communication skills and independent research and writing abilities;
  • Work to train graduate students as apprentice teachers, with attention to new “scholarship of teaching and learning” and new assessments;
  • Change faculty incentives and promotion structures to improve education and service.
reinventing the role of undergraduate education and research in u s universities16
Reinventing the role of undergraduate education and research in U.S. universities?
  • Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology (National Research Council, 1999);
  • Greater Expectations: A New Vision for Learning as a Nation Goes to College (AAC&U, 2002); and College Learning for the New Global Century (AAC&U, 2007), all designed to synthesize a new “consensus” focused on experiential, inquiry-based and service-oriented undergraduate education as the gold standard?
reinventing the role of the public research university for the 21 st century
Reinventing the role of the public research university for the 21st century?
  • Kellogg Commission on the Future of State and Land-Grant Universities (1996-2001); APLU and other reports, outlined need to rethink traditional approaches to research, teaching and service as a new focus on shared discovery, learning, and engagement; to shift from research by faculty on behalf of outside constituencies toward shared process of collaboration with external partners;
  • Such an approach could encompass “workforce development,” but as sustained collaborations.
tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains 1
Tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains (1):
  • More systematic support for faculty-student research and student-led research projects (U.S. Council on Undergraduate Research, CUR and NCUR, etc.); “students as colleagues” (Campus Compact and others); also new attention to student creativity and research in all domains, including performance in arts and humanities;
  • Also U.K. Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETLs), with new attention to student research and independent learning;
tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains 2
Tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains (2):
  • Global spread of new approaches to service learning and service-oriented degree programs, aka community-based learning and community-based research (CBL and CBR); also Council of Europe, “university as sites of citizenship,” and other European service programs; emerging research evidence highlighting utility of degree-relevant service learning programs for both academic achievement and student retention;
  • Adapting tools for “technology transfer” beyond STEM into arts, humanities, social sciences?
tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains 3
Tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains (3):
  • New innovations to blend more traditional “study abroad” programs with service learning, and to build multi-national student teams for service (yet acute lack of research on effectiveness, and lack of public sector funding for such programs);
  • Sophisticated new attention to how combining student research, service, and peer support programs can improve social cohesion and work to improve academic and social integration (Hu, Scheuch, Schwartz, Gayles, and Li, 2008);
tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains 4
Tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains (4):
  • Well-established innovations around “triple helix” of university-industry-government relations (Etskowitz and Leydesdorff, 2002; also Mowery, et al., 2004), especially through tech transfer;
  • OECD project on role of higher education in regional development (OECD, 2007; etc.);
  • Key tools: role of university research in and as economic development; spin-off companies and analyses of labor markets; university-sponsored SME incubators and student entrepreneurship programs; applied research; work with NGOs.
tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains 5
Tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains (5):
  • Another significant and directly relevant issue: emergence of new assessment tools in U.S. (National Survey of Student Engagement or NSSE, Collegiate Learning Assessment or CLA, now possible CLA-inspired “PISA 2”), which can help provide research data on trends as well as act as “policy signals” for particular innovations. CLA (from CAE) related to College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA), linked survey tool for secondary-to-higher education analysis.
  • Also European curricular “tuning” and ENQA.
tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains 6
Tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains (6):
  • Emergence of new classification schemes (in U.S., for example Carnegie Community Engagement Classification, to develop elective categories of institutions to analyze depth and breadth of regional and local engagement;
  • Parallel efforts in Europe (EUA) to develop new university classification schemes; linked to emerging evaluation and rankings systems;
  • Goals: to highlight second (education) and third (service and engagement) missions, without compromising globally competitive research?
tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains 7
Tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains (7):
  • Key obstacles: encouraging faculty to align their own research agendas with national, regional, and local organizations and actors; to build sustainable partnerships with external interests; for universities to develop the organizational capacity to support such complex CBL and CBR; to build “clinical” and “outreach” professorships that carry equal status and rewards as research careers; and to value quality in teaching and quality in engagement equally with research?
tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains 8
Tools for reinventing university missions and balancing the three domains (8):
  • Furthermore, all of these efforts to balance the domains of the global, the regional and the local must be accompanied by a qualitatively new effort to reach out to national and local media, and to popularize and publicize such innovations together with local partners. In other words, if an institution were in trouble, would the surrounding region and communities rally to save it or not…?
  • High-quality student-led research programs can not only fulfill all of these policy goals in all three domains, but can also help to publicize them?
in conclusion beyond such education and engagement what is the research agenda
In conclusion, beyond such education and engagement, what is the research agenda?
  • Many deeper, more nationally or locally-specific trends in global higher education development “masked” by convergence in policy rhetoric and external or superficial institutional isomorphism?
  • Acute need for more in-depth and nuanced approaches to program evaluation and rankings;
  • Even more acute need for collaborative and truly cross-cultural studies of variations in curricula; teaching and learning; and especially of cognitive and development processes as they unfold in various national and cultural contexts.