Conference review: first year with ECPR SG on Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation

Earlier this year, the SG on Politics of Higher Education, Research and Innovation was established. Thus, this year marked the first ECPR conference, where the section on knowledge politics was explicitly backed by a standing group. This marks an important milestone for higher education, research and innovation themes at ECPR. Thus, we asked Meng-Hsuan Chou and Mitchell Young – two of the three convenors of the standing group about what they thought about his years section “Politics of Higher Education, Research, and Innovation”, and what their plans are for next year.

How would you characterise the section this year?

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou

Dr. Meng-Hsuan Chou (NTU Singapore)

Hsuan: The section is becoming increasingly diverse with more contributions from those who are joining the section for the first time. This is fantastic! The mix of continuity and new additions is very refreshing. I also enjoyed listening to presentations on very contemporary issues (e.g. refugee flows and receptions by universities in Europe); these presentations demonstrate the salience of the research we do in this section.

Mitchell: The section this year had a strong conceptual element, with a number of panels that addressed theory and methodology. At the same time we did not miss out on empirical studies, which covered a wide swath of both the politics of research and higher education.

What was the highlight for you with this years’ section? 

Dr. Mitchell Young (Charles University)

Dr. Mitchell Young
(Charles University)

Mitchell: So many of the papers and panels were great that to answer your question and name an academic highlight would be impossible. The real highlight for me was having everyone there (here!) – meeting new people and new ideas as well as catching up with old friends and seeing how their research has grown and changed. It makes a marvelous tapestry to see old and new threads woven together, and especially because it provides me with new insights and inspiration.

Hsuan: A major highlight for me is that this was the first time we met as a Standing Group, which gives the work and research we do as a section more visibility. The politics of higher education, research, and innovation are pervasive in academic life, but they are truly under-examined in mainstream political research. Through the annual sections and other activities of the Standing Group, I hope this will change in the very near future.

What are the plans for ECPR2017? 

Hsuan: We have many ideas for next year, one of which is collaborate with other Standing Groups to sponsor thematic panels that would be of interest to a wider audience. Oslo 2017 will be a great homecoming for many of us in this section as the idea for our Standing Group and the inaugural section were first discussed and realised in Oslo.

Mitchell: My plan for next year is to be surprised by some new and unusual panels that I would never have imagined myself. I’ll be sending a call for panel ideas out before the end of the month.