ECPR General Conference
University of Wrocław, Wrocław
4 - 7 September 2019

Knowledge Politics and Policies

Public Policy
Higher Education
Section Number
Section Chair
Mitchell Young
Charles University
Section Co-Chair
Martina Vukasovic
Universitetet i Bergen

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 7 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: Travelling, diffusion and translation of ideas and policies in the area of post-secondary education
Chairs: Jens Jungblut (University of Oslo), Tim Seidenschnur (University of Kassel)
Post-secondary education is a policy area that witnessed increased internationalization and transnational cooperation resulting in processes of convergence. While activities such as international bench-marking, policy forums for exchanges of best-practice and active policy coordination lead to increased potential for ideas and policies to travel both horizontally between countries and vertically between different levels of policymaking, it cannot be assumed that these traveling ideas and policies are simply copied, but rather that they have to be translated to the local context in order to become implemented.

Panel 2: Governance and the political economy of knowledge
Chairs: Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore), Tero Erkkilä (University of Helsinki)
States’ information resources and education policies have long belonged to the realm of national politics and governance. Knowledge governance and its politics, however, are no longer purely domestic exercises involving only public or elected officials. Taking this transition / transformation as our starting point, this panel examines ideational and policy circulation, (competing) underlying rationalities, and the institutional outcomes and alternatives of shifting global political economy of knowledge.

Panel 3: Science Diplomacy: interfaces of knowledge and foreign policy
Chairs: Pauline Ravinet (University of Lille), Mitchell Young (Charles University)
Science is becoming of increasing interest to diplomats as global challenges demand scientific knowledge and scientists themselves have been drawn into many international negotiations. Papers on this panel will examine the interfaces which have arisen between scientists and diplomats and how those are affected by both politics and policy processes.

Panel 4: Twenty Years of the Bologna Process – Reflecting on its ‘global strategy’
Chairs: Hila Zahavi and Hannah Moscovitz (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
At its twenty-year mark, the Bologna Process has evolved into an important contemporary example of higher education collaboration. While initially focused on bringing European higher education institutions closer together, since its inception, the process has taken on an international reach, through its ‘global strategy’. This panel aims to reflect on the international function of the Bologna Process by exploring the motivations and interests behind its ‘global strategy’ as well as an examination of how and to what degree the reform has been perceived and applied beyond Europe.

Panel 5: Politics of Big Science and Research Infrastructures within and beyond Europe
Chairs/discussants: Isabel Bolliger (University of Lausanne), Nicolas Rüffin (WZB) and Inga Ulnicane (University of Vienna)
This panel addresses politics behind contemporary science and knowledge production, which today often involve large-scale infrastructures, instruments and data-sets that require international collaboration beyond nation-state. The panel invites papers addressing questions such as reconciliation of national and regional interests, challenges to international collaboration and principles of decision-making and resource allocation in establishing and maintaining large international laboratories and digital research infrastructures.

Panel 6: Assessing higher education governance reforms impact on system and university performance: Theoretical and practical contributions
Chairs: Davide Donina (University of Bergamo), Sandra Hasanefendic (VU University Amsterdam)
Many higher education systems underwent structural changes in their governance arrangements over the last decades. This panel aims to explore whether and how governance reforms in the field of higher education, and their organizational translation and implementation, affected the multi-level, multi-faceted, and multi-dimensional concept of performance in higher education, by stimulating discussions and comparisons across national and cross-national case studies.

Panel 7: Beyond Competition? The Future Geopolitics of Knowledge
Chair: Miguel Antonio Lim (University of Manchester); Discussants: Nadiia Kachynska and Emma Sabzalieva (University of Toronto)
This panel is on the shifting dimensions of place and power in the geopolitics of knowledge. We welcome papers that examine the role of emerging ‘centres’, regions and places of knowledge production, investigate the possibilities for regional associations/organizations to reshape the world academic order, analyse the impact of contemporary political transformations on international knowledge relations, and explore the scope for new or non-conventional theories and methods on researching the geopolitics of knowledge that take us beyond the usual competition lens.

Panel 8: The politics of size in higher education: devices, patterns and spatial imaginaries
Chairs: Alexander Mitterle (Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg), Susan Lee Robertson (University of Cambridge)
Standing in front of a World Class University often makes its greatness less apparent then by browsing a ranking, reading an article or visiting its website. We thus depict greatness not through immediate interaction but through the mediation of devices. They institute a wholeness in distance that allows to set universities apart. The panel aims to address a form of politics which reconfigures and visualizes geographies, institutes collective imaginaries for the sake of size in higher education, but which also transform the local to resemble the image devices transcend.


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 6 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.

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