GESF Members at CIES 2016


We are pleased to announce that the Centre for Globalisation Education & Social Futures is sending a strong contingent to next month’s 60th Annual Comparative and International Education Society (CIES) in Vancouver. During the 5-day event from the 7th – 11th March, 2016, GESF members will present a series of individual papers on regionalism and market-making, as well as convening panels on the significance of ‘civilisation’ in comparative education research, and on markets and trade in education.


PANEL: What would it mean for Comparative Education if ‘civilisation’ were to be taken seriously?

Convened by Roger Dale (Chair) and Susan Robertson (Discussant), University of Bristol. Tuesday  11:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Grand Ballroom BC

The purpose of this panel is to extend and develop the potential of the ‘Critical Cultural Political Economy of Education’ (CCPEE) as elaborated by Robertson and Dale (2015), and Dale and Robertson (2012).

In particular, the focus and intent of the panel is to restore a concept of ‘culture’ which is neither residual to political economy, but rather co-constitutive with it; which does not restrict it to semiotic understandings and interpretations of the world; and whose understandings are different from the world polity theorists’ assumptions of world culture. Rather, the focus of the panel will be on the continuing significance of the deeply rooted and consequential differences based in fundamental historical-civilisational differences, which the panelists will exemplify in their papers.

The evidential justifications for making this move now are all around us. We do not have to accept Huntington’s thesis to recognize that the idea of a ‘clash of civilisations’ appears to have seeped into the common understanding, and in ways that may be consequential.

The broad approach of the panel is, by means of separate case studies, to highlight the nature and potential, of a ‘civilizational approach’ (CA), where ‘the technological, social and cultural dynamic of Western expansion undermined the core structures and collective identities of the non-Western civilizations exposed to it, but did not preclude continuing and mutually formative interaction between fragmented traditions and changing clusters of transformative forces’ . (Arnason 2007).We need only to think of, the Islamic, Indian, Chinese and Japanese ‘civilisations’, or the civilizational traditions of North and South America, to recognise the potential of CA as being built around the crystallization of : the cultural premises of civilizational formations; institutional structures and dynamics as channels for the unfolding of cultural meaning; and inter-civilisational fields, relate to the economic sphere of wealth, the political sphere of power, and the cultural sphere of meaning (Arnason, 2003, chapter 4)

At the level at which we will be approaching it, CA represents a novel attempt to explore the varieties of social and educational realms lying between globalization and individuals; it offers ‘an interpretation of the constitutive patterns of meaning that make comprehensive forms of social life durable and distinctive’ (Wagner, 2007). At other levels, it can be seen as part of a comparative history of civilisations in world history; related to somewhat different conceptions of civilization as a process –as in Elias’s (meliorist) ‘civilising process’: as a goal, for instance in modernization theory; and at another –deeper– level as a societal pattern, or ensemble, which is the main way that the concept will be interpreted by the panel. A major focus is on the nature and consequences of the relationships between cultural and structural dimensions of civilisations; civilisations are seen as both shaped by and shaping economic, political and institutional elements of societies, which are seen as central to effective comparative analyses of different education systems and societies. As Richard Swedberg puts it, ‘if capitalism is civilizational in nature, it will ultimately also follow a set of other laws than those Economics has so far tried to establish’ (26)

The main claim for developing a CA approach within CE is that it provides a basis for comparison which is built on the recognition of the nature and significance of ‘deeper’ cultural sources of current institutions, practices and   justifications, without which we cannot fully understand current educational institutions, issues and practices The overall purpose is to produce a deeper theory of the nature and effects of civilizational forms and legacies in CE, as CA enables means of access to deeply embedded sets of meanings and practices that can be used as a basis for comparative explanation of societal differences in education.

The members of the panel will provide different historical, regional, national, inter-civilisational examples of the power of CA as a basis for ‘re-heterogene/ising’ key possibilities for CE which have been homogenized, flattened, colonized, lost in existing work. It does not entail any return to some set of ‘primordial states’, but instead allows us both to understand more clearly and adequately the bases of different education systems, and to identify and compare understandings of comparable differences which may generate new explanations.

The panel includes a paper by Walsh ClareUniversity of Bristol:

“Civil society as a moment in the politics of education in the Arab Gulf: Civilisation analysis as a means of interpreting Arab modernity, culture and society”

Globally there has been an increasing interest in the relationship and role of civil society as a process of educational change, particularly in relation to the involvement of nongovernmental actors in national and subnational educational spaces (Mundy & Murphy, 2001). As a moment in the politics of education (Robertson & Dale, 2015), analysing the question of how Arab civil society networks are involved in the regionalisation of quality assurance of higher education across the Arab Gulf can be achieved by specifically examining the education ensemble through the cultural and civilizational element of civil society. This paper argues the use of civilisation analysis (Arnason, 2003) as a mechanism to analyse Arab modernity, culture and society as components of Arab civil society. Using civilisation analysis addresses the problem of the extent to which the relationship between power and culture developed in the dynamics of a civilisation prior to the impact of the West and also addresses analytical blindness in relation to symbolic and institutional frameworks of civilisations such as Islamic Umma and its dynamics. Finally, civilization analysis recognizes that concepts such as civil society develop in different ways, depending on symbols and the importance of their religious, ideological, primordial and historical aspects for example. How these components integrate in modernizing societies should not be understood and explained through a Western lens; requiring instead to be considered in their own terms whereby embedded meanings, practices and symbols can be used as a basis for explanation 


PANEL: Global influences and regional/national/local responses in higher education: The cases of ASEM, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Japan.

Tuesday 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM, Galiano

This panel includes a paper by Que Anh Dang, University of Bristol:

Shaping an ASEM Higher Education Area: Hybrid Sectoral Regionalism from Within

In her paper, Que Anh draws on the concepts of ‘emergence’ and ‘emergent properties’ from critical realism to theorise the construction of regions. She argues that a region itself is an emergent entity whose existence depends on its constituent parts and the relations between them, but obtains their own power and properties. She explores the relationships between ‘regionalism’ and the ‘higher education sector’, in turn offering a new conceptual understanding of the ‘hybrid regional sectoral space’ between Asia and Europe.


PANEL: Global education market-making and trading (Part 1)

General Pool, Wednesday 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM, Room: Vancouver 

PANEL: Global education market-making and trading (Part 2)

Wednesday 9:45 AM – 11:15 AM, Room 854

The two-part panel on the processes of marketization of education globally is being convened by Susan Robertson (University of Bristol) and Janja Komljenovic (University of Bristol). Its focus is the complex interplay between market-making in the education sector and inclusion of education as services in global trade (TTIP, TISA, CETA and so on). It aims, first, to analyse the outcomes of marketizing the education sector, and second, to develop a conceptual grammar and analytical approaches that would allow unpacking the complexities of marketizing and trading processes. Presenters on the panel include:

  1. Antoni Verger, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Gita Steiner Khamsi, Columbia University
  2. Sam Sellar, The University of Queensland
  3. Curtis Riep, University of Alberta
  4. Eva Hartmann, Copenhagen Business School 

Janja Komljenovic’s paper entitled “Under construction: education markets” draws from a larger research project on marketization and market-making in the nascent higher education sector. It brings together insights from several cases and theorises mechanisms at play. The first case is that of three British universities, which reveals a range of growing market exchanges the universities are part of either as a seller or as a buyer. Taken together, these market–making processes are recalibrating and remaking the structures, social relations and subjectivities, within and beyond the university and in turn reconstituting the university and the higher education sector. The second case is that of a companies who act as brokers of student recruitment agents. In an attempt to construct its own global market that profits from organising encounters between education institutions and recruitment agents, they are part of ordering global markets of internationally mobile students and instituting markets of recruitment agents. The third case is that of NAFSA annual conference and expo, which reveals on the one hand the role of large events in structuring global markets, and on the other how emotions, desires and social processes are part of market-making. Mechanisms that are found in these cases together illuminate the spatial, temporal and social dynamics at play in the processes of global education ‘market-making’.

Susan Robertson’s paper “Power, Politics and Uneven Development in Constitutionalising Global Education Markets and Services Economies” examines the current round of trade in services negotiations (with a focus on CETA, TTIP, TISA, TPP, PA), beginning in 2011, which again includes education (under the GATS Article 1.3). I argue that the stalling of the WTO’s GATS negotiations led to a range of national and regional trade deals (such as the European Directive on Services and the proliferation of Preferential Trade Deals largely driven by European Union and the United States) which has created an uneven regulatory topography leading to strategic exploitation by investors. The current favouring of Mutual Recognition, the Negative List and the Rachet Effect as regulatory mechanisms in these negotiations will encourage edu-businesses to target those places with a low regulatory floor when placed in the context of rapid liberalisation, privatisation and commercialisation of education services in many countries over the past 5 years. Such decisions will constitutionalise into the future the expansion of education services in the interests of investors and not the wider public.

Full conference programme can be accessed here

This year’s CIES conference is held on 6-10 March 2016 in Vancouver, BC Canada.