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Territorial and Identity Politics and the Shaping of Higher Education and Research Policies- Exploring the Subnational Context

Governance
Policy Analysis
Regionalism
Identity
Higher Education
Policy Implementation
Hannah Moscovitz
University of Cambridge
Hannah Moscovitz
University of Cambridge

Abstract

This Paper examines the territorial and identity politics driving higher education and research policy in subnational regions. With the re-territorialization of world politics, the policy domains of higher education and research are increasingly dispersed along territorial lines. Indeed, the governance of these fields is no longer confined to the nation-state scale, as other territorial entities- including sub-state and supra-state regions- are engaged in their design. As regions take on more prominent roles in the policy making of higher education and research, new goals and interests are embedded, with important implications for the shaping of these policies. This study focuses on the manner in which identity-related interests in particular, impact higher education and research policy. As these spheres are often attributed a ‘nation-building’ and national identity building role, their dispersion to regional scales has implications for their territorial identity fostering potential. Highlighting the subnational context as a point of departure, through the case studies of Quebec and Wallonia, the research aims to address the following questions; how do the territorial identity interests of political actors shape the higher education and research policy spheres? How do the different governance scales and identity interests interact and what are the implications for policy design? The regionalisation of higher education and research has led to a complex multi-scale governance system, in which different territorial entities are involved, with accompanying, overlapping or even contrasting ideas and interests. As subnational territories within multinational federal states, and within wider supranational regions (North America and Europe) Quebec and Wallonia offer a valuable lens to assess this multifaceted system. Indeed, in both cases, three levels of governance are engaged (to varying degrees) in policy making of higher education and research. Three scales of territorial identity politics are also at play. Based on qualitative analysis of policy documents, political discourse and semi-structured interviews with policy actors, the study’s empirical findings provide valuable insight into the underlying motivations behind the variant design of higher education and research policy. Moreover, by examining two distinct subnational entities, this research also aims to contribute to the comparative perspective of these policy fields.