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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

Knowledge Politics and Policies

Comparative Politics
Higher Education
Section Number
Section Chairs
Mitchell Young
Charles University
Martina Vukasovic
Universitetet i Bergen
Section Co-Chair

Knowledge, understood to be the foundation on which societies coalesce and economies thrive, has become central to contemporary politics and policymaking across governance levels. This Section is interested in theoretical, empirical, and comparative contributions that investigate the role of politics and policy in the multi-level, multi-issue, and multi-actor governance of knowledge. In focusing on role, we refer to effects that ideas (including political ideologies), actors (both individual and organisational, including political parties and transnational entities), policy instruments, and institutions have on the governance, creation, dissemination, and transfer of knowledge. Panels will be oriented around these roles, key empirical questions, theories or methodologies. The Section continues the work on knowledge policy domains from the past 8 ECPR conferences (previously under the titles ‘Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation’ and ‘Europe of Knowledge’). It continues to welcome scholars, globally and interdisciplinarily, from all theoretical and methodological approaches.

The following Panels have all been pre-proposed by the Chairs listed:

Panel 1: The politics of Higher Education policy - Lessons from Western Europe, Canada and the USA
Chair: Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo)
This Panel focuses on higher education policy and the political processes that shape this policy area with a regional focus on Western Europe and North America. There are two main rationales behind this focus: (1) the growing importance of higher education policy, and (2) the lack of comparative scholarship that includes cases from both sides of the Atlantic. The Panel will offer a forum to discuss key aspects of the political processes in higher education policy including the politics behind governance reforms or funding policies, the role of interest groups, policy diffusion, and policy framing.

Panel 2: The new geopolitics of international higher education
Chair: Emma Sabzalieva (University of Toronto)
The current political era is one of emerging powers, shifting international and regional relations, and growing populism and nationalism. Within this altered global context, the intense internationalization of higher education that was a feature of the late 20th and early 21st century appears to be in stark contrast to current political trends. This Panel investigates the new geopolitics of international higher education, focussing on the power dynamics that come into play when politics come into conflict with policy and practice in international higher education. The Panel also welcomes theoretical Papers that propose new lenses through which to explore these dynamics.

Panel 3: Science Diplomacy and Global Challenges
Chair: Mitchell Young (Charles University)
Science Diplomacy is gaining traction as both an academic concept and a term of practice in foreign policy. This Panel will focus on global challenges as unique sites of science diplomacy which demand engagement by scientists, diplomats, and policymakers and politicians on multiple levels. Papers in this Panel may choose to focus on a single global challenge or approach them comparatively in terms of their multi-actor and multi-level governance dimensions.

Panel 4: Politics and Policies of AI, Big Data and Algorithmic Governance
Chairs: Tero Erkkilä (University of Helsinki) and Inga Ulnicane (De Montfort University)
This Panel addresses politics and policies of AI, big data and algorithms. We welcome Papers that analyse discourses and narratives on AI as well as analysis on how institutional practices emerge and transform as a result of algorithmic governance. Contrasting the expectations and realities of AI and algorithmic governance, the Panel welcomes Papers concerning the politics and regulation of AI, big data and algorithms and related issues of trust and accountability.

Panel 5: Timescales and Time-policies in higher education
Chairs: Alexander Mitterle (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg) Susan Robertson (University of Cambridge)
The university is one of the only global institutions that has defined and established its own timescales. It uses these timescales to induce social values and professional norms as well as to legitimize social stratification. Yet, the centrality of time in the university project has remained a niche topic in research on higher education. The Panel aims to re-focus on academic time policies and their role in reshaping higher education.

Panel 6: What does academic time look like in political science?
Chair: Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore),
How have changes to the higher education sector around the world shaped the profession of political science? This Panel addresses this question through the lens of ‘academic time’. While time in the academy has been traditionally measured by tasks an academic performs (i.e. research, teaching, and service), its allocation is increasingly complex as requests for today’s academic labour grow from within and beyond the university.

Panel 7: Competition and agencification in funding research and innovation
Chairs: Sarah Glück (Zeppelin University) and Thomas König (Institute for Advanced Studies)
While research policy embraces “agencification” and increasing “competitive funding”, these trends pose organizational challenges: How to deal with dual legitimacy issues such as fairness and efficiency in allocation and decision-making? What are thresholds of “efficiency” in terms of the size of programs, instruments, agencies? What is the influence of other actors such as legislatures (parliaments), scientific organisations, and audit courts? The Panel invites case studies of agencies or funding policies as well as studies on entire national innovation systems, particularly those that take a comparative perspective.

Panel 8: Science and populism
Chair: Markus Seyfried (Universität Potsdam)
The Panel addresses the relation of populism and science as a result of two contradicting developments: the scientification of society and the politicization of science. Paradoxically both developments seem to undermine the legitimacy of science, although they are supposed to strengthen it. The Panel seeks Papers that deal with issues of science and society and science and politics.


Mitchell Young is Assistant Professor at Charles University focusing on European integration and science policy. He is a co-convenor of the ECPR Standing Group on ‘Knowledge Politics and Policies’ and has co-chaired an ECPR Section for the past 7 years.

Martina Vukasovic is Associate Professor at University of Bergen. Her research focuses on knowledge policy and politics across multiple governance levels and involving various interest groups.

Panel List

Code Title Details
P064Competition and Agencification in Funding Research and Innovation View Panel Details
P066Conceptualising Academic Time View Panel Details
P205Knowledge and International Relations View Panel Details
P301Politics and Policies of AI, Big Data and Algorithmic Governance View Panel Details
P360Science Diplomacy and Global Challenges View Panel Details
P404The New Geopolitics of International Higher Education View Panel Details
P413The Politics of Higher Education Policy - Lessons from Western Europe, Canada and the USA View Panel Details
P432Timescales and Time-Policies in Higher Education View Panel Details
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