GESF at ECPR in Prague – Day 3

Day 3 

Most of the presentations for the Standing Group on the Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation have been held in the Faculty of Arts Building of Charles University, here in Prague. This Faculty building of the University sits on the banks of Smetana’s famous Vltava River, a waterway which flows through the city – Prague Castle on the one side, the fantastic Old City Square on the other, with elegant bridges that span its banks.

It is easy to be distracted from matters of the mind; the seats gracing the river are well used perching points to just sit and contemplate. Numerous boats,  all loaded with eager tourists  hoping to make the most of the generous last days of summer, steam up and down.  We have already posted some thoughts on arriving, along with a review of Day 1 and 2. Day 3 beckons, and we head inside.

GESF’s Que Ang Dang presented her paper the final panel under the broad title of  Transnational Actors in Knowledge Policies – Ideas, Interests and Institutions.  Her paper on the Anatomy of Influence, Regional Governance and the Bologna and ASEM Secretariats, draws from her European Commission funded project as part  of the Universities in the Knowledge Economy (UNIKE) – to be concluded in 2016. Que Anh is also one of the editors of our new book on Global Regionalisms and Higher Education which was launched at ECPR this week, as well as having a chapter in it on ASEM.

Lots of great questions were asked of Que Anh from the audience and the discussant. But sitting in the audience listening, and it repeatedly reminded us all of the importance of extensive and intensive field work that gets at the complex details of the micro-processes of power within bigger power structures. This takes a great deal of skill in knowing who to approach to get access, and how to use that privilege in ways that are both ethically consistent but also revealing of the complexities of – in this case – advancing inter-regional projects.

GESF’s Tore Sorensen also had a paper in this panel on Industrial Relations in Global Education Governance. Tore was unable to make it in the end because of pressing commitments to finish his PhD. But his paper is on the ECPR website, and makes for a fantastically interesting read on the ways in which the OECD and teacher unions globally have been advancing new tools of governing with major implications for where and how industrial relations work gets done.

The Conference is now over. We have enjoyed meeting old friends and making new acquaintances.  We’re back to Bristol tomorrow, and reluctantly say goodbye to Prague and ECPR.

We’d particularly like to thank the organizers for this Conference. Having recently run our own in Bristol, and in comparison ours was a baby conference, we know the amount of work it takes. Mitch Young our Standing Group Host who is at Charles University deserves a special thanks who, along with Meng-Hsuen Chou from Nanyang University in Singapore, have done so much to bring ensure the growth and success of the Standing Group.

So, thankyou ECPR from GESF, and we’ll see you again next year.

Signing off: Susan, Roger, Janja, Que Anh, Maria, Tore, Aliandra

Editor’s Note: Susan L. Robertson is  Professor of Sociology of Education in the Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol and Director of the Centre for Globalisation, Education and Social Futures (GESF). Her research is concerned with the changing nature of education as a result of transformations in the wider global, regional and local economies and societies, and the changing scales on which ideas, power and politics is negotiated. Contact: