This special issue is devoted to a study of an action research-based reform of a US university study abroad programme to make it a genuine intercultural immersion experience. The four-year collaborative reform process combined participatory organisational redesign, the development of a comprehensive active learning approach and the teaching of intercultural competence through ethnographic immersion and community engagement in Seville, Spain. The case is an example of the development of intercultural competencies through guided behavioural change, of action research to reform higher education programmes and of active learning combined with formative and summative evaluation. The reader will learn about the experiences of the staff, faculty and mentors in the Consortium for Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)-Sevilla study abroad programme and those of the sponsoring US universities as they together achieved a fundamental reform of a decades-old study abroad immersion programme. This special issue has many authors because this was a collaborative action-research project with continuous group work and brainstorming. The authors’ names are placed in the sections where the authorship is clear, but, as befits a collaboration, many of the ideas are the result of the combined thinking of all the authors. Authorship of the various sections has been allocated mainly to clarify for readers the most relevant author to contact to learn more about particular dimensions of the process. The guest editors took on the editorial duties on behalf of this larger group.
Eva Infante Mora, Davydd J. Greenwood, and Melina Ivanchikova
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
In this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences, academics from Denmark, Chile, the United States and the United Kingdom analyse capacity-building projects between European and African universities, the experiences of mobile academics returning to their home country, the role of tutors on international interdisciplinary MA programmes, the contemporary relevance of classical and medieval approaches to education and levels of information literacy among undergraduates.
Higher education reform in the ‘periphery’
Mariya Ivancheva and Ivo Syndicus
In recent years, an increasing body of work has addressed the ‘corporatisation’ and ‘commodification’ of universities, as well as higher education sector reforms more broadly. This work refers mostly to the traditional core hubs of higher education, such as the Anglo-American research university. In the emerging anthropology of higher education policy, accounts of the implementation and negotiation of reforms in more ‘peripheral’ contexts often remain absent. This collection of articles addresses this absence by focusing on the interplay between narratives of global policy reform and the processes of their implementation and negotiation in different contexts in the academic ‘periphery’. Bringing together work from a range of settings and through different lenses, the special issue provides insights into the common processes of reform that are underway and how decisions to implement certain reforms reaffirm rather than challenge peripheral positions in higher education.
Penny Welch and Susan Wright
In this issue of Learning and Teaching: The International Journal of Higher Education in the Social Sciences, academics from Sweden, the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom offer insights into a number of features of undergraduate study – independent study projects, the development of political attitudes, the graduate attributes agenda, general education courses in global studies and the attainment gap between students with different types of entry qualifications.
Tribute to Joyce Canaan
For my dear friend, colleague and comrade Joyce. I write this with great sadness. Joyce fought a strong and brave battle against cancer for nearly two years, hoping that the treatments would finally end so she could get on with her life. This was my hope, too, because Joyce has so much ‘unfinished business’ – the book to complete, the articles to write and her contribution to the struggles of the land movement in Brazil to make. In a truly Freirean sense, she was building a movement with this community of farmers, teachers and academics. Joyce struggled against capitalism and its many violences and oppressions – imperialism, racism, sexism, ableism. ‘Fuck them all,’ she would say. ‘Fuck them all and let us build a better world’.
Mobility in doctoral education – and beyond
Corina Balaban and Susan Wright
This special issue emerged as a result of Universities in the Knowledge Economy (UNIKE), a four-year collaborative research project and training programme for early-stage researchers that investigated the dynamic relationships between universities and knowledge economies in Europe and in the Asia-Pacific Rim. The project was funded by the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (EC) and included researchers based at six different universities in five European countries. Mobility was not only a widespread research interest within the UNIKE academic community but also a reality of the project, which was in itself a practical example of mobility in doctoral education, as envisaged by the European Commission. Many questions emerged as to how mobility became so central to the European Union’s policies for higher education, but also as to how the portrayal of mobility on a policy level compared to the actual lived experiences of mobile students and researchers. ‘Mobility’ can refer to many different things: geographical mobility, social mobility, cross-sectoral mobility or intellectual mobility (interdisciplinarity). The academic literature mostly treats them separately, with clusters of studies around each concept. In contrast, this special issue sets out to investigate these different types of mobility collectively, with authors covering several parts or the whole spectrum of mobilities. We believe it is valuable to discuss these four different aspects of mobility together for two reasons. First, they are often mentioned together in higher education policy as ‘desirable’ characteristics of a given education programme. Second, the ideal profile of the new, flexible knowledge worker supposedly combines all these aspects of mobility in one persona. The policy literature produced by influential stakeholders in higher education such as the European Commission and the OECD focuses on how to encourage, foster and support different kinds of mobility, working on the assumption that mobility is inherently good and will benefit countries, higher education systems and individuals. Much of the academic literature has adopted a similar approach, focusing on ways to enable mobility rather than challenge it.
Constructing and practising student engagement in changing institutional cultures
Lisa Garforth and Anselma Gallinat
This introduction sets the theoretical and historical context for this special issue on student engagement. Drawing on literatures about audit culture, governance and change in higher education institutions, and theories of practice, institutions and organisation, it sheds light on the current era of English higher education. The Browne Review led to the withdrawal in 2010 of the majority of the government teaching grant for English universities, and it tripled tuition fees in 2012. In the post-Browne era, ‘engagement’ emerged as an organising concept linked in multiple ways to other objects and discourses, in particular university league tables and measures of student satisfaction; and it was swiftly and often unreflexively translated into visions for developing learning and teaching. This special issue focuses on this specific shift in policy and discourse, exploring institutional change and everyday experience, and reflecting on the power and limits of policies.