Hedda literature tips: The question of Openness

Filipa M. Ribeiro  (University of Porto)

Filipa M. Ribeiro
(University of Porto)

In this edition of our Hedda literature tips, Filipa M. Ribeiro, PhD researcher and science writer from University of Porto reviews the book “Education Science and Knowledge capitalism – creativity and the promise of openness” by Michael A. Peters. 

The book Education, Science and Knowledge Capitalism – creativity and the promise of openness takes up the idea of knowledge as something that needs to be explained, rather than what does the explaining. Michael A. Peter’s book traces how diverse processes of modernisation of science and knowledge systems involved inscribing and reinscribing a complex domain of ‘the social’ upon a world of heterogeneous concepts of education.

As the several essays assembled in this book show, in what regards education and knowledge production, ‘the social’ has changed radically in the last decades and continues to change rapidly. ‘The social’ is not only made of social stuff as several trends and mechanisms try to reduce it to phenomena like marketization, privatization and commercialization of knowledge, of ‘knowledge workers’, of knowledge institutions and of knowledge policies. As the author puts it, the best hope and the best way against such reduction is openness, which is defined as an orientation “towards change and experiment, collaboration and sharing, tolerance and the acceptance of criticism”.

In a way or another this basic idea of ‘openness’ permeated a great deal of sociological thinking; it enabled sociology to continually stress the irreducibly ‘social’ aspects of diverse knowledge phenomena. But this way of thinking about ‘the social’ in science and education also has its attendant problems, and these have begun to be felt more acutely in recent decades. The author, thus, explores what it takes for us – as individuals, as a society, even as a civilization – to cultivate the capacity of openness so vital to countering uninhibited impulses of neoliberalism and capitalisms within educational and scientific settings. (more…)

Call for papers: The Global Governance of Knowledge Policies: Europe of Knowledge in Context

ecprNext year, the ECPR conference will be held 26-29 August 2015 in Montreal, Canada. For the first time, ECPR is going global, with the conference held outside of Europe.

On this occasion, the Europe of Knowledge section is expanding as well, the title for 2015 is “The Global Governance of Knowledge Policies: Europe of Knowledge in Context“.

Abstract for the section: 

Knowledge policies are at the forefront of contemporary global politics. Indeed, knowledge is to be the foundation on which societies coalesce and economies thrive; the competition for knowledge drives the global race for talent. The fourth Europe of Knowledge section invites contributions to go beyond Europe and consider these overarching questions: What key themes should we address when we talk about the global governance of knowledge policies? How and why are these themes crucial for our understanding of public policymaking in knowledge domains? Specifically, we are interested in theoretical, empirical and comparative contributions that investigate the role of the ‘four I’s’ – ideas, interests, instruments and institutions – in the global and multi-level governance of knowledge policies. By ‘role’, we refer to the effects that ideas, actors (individual, organisational), policy instruments and institutions have had on the governance of knowledge policies, and vice-versa. Our focus on ‘roles’ is to enable a multidisciplinary discussion on whether these factors share defining characteristics across different knowledge policy domains (i.e. research, higher education, and science), and between distinct governance levels and geographical regions. This section continues to welcome all scholars, theoretical and methodological approaches to critically discuss the reconfiguration of knowledge systems – in Europe and around the world.

Current panel proposals (we have included the extended abstracts for the panels that have published the extended call, and we will update this post when more of these calls get published, check also the ERA-CRN site):

Tips and Tricks: How to complete your Master thesis?

higher-educationSpring semester is arriving soon, and many Master students are now embarking on their path to finish their Master thesis. Starting that journey might seem like a journey to the unknown… How to manage this? 

So, to ease the process, we have compiled a set of practical tips for you to think about.

Do you have some more tips to share? Please do so in the comments! 

Have a clear research focus

Sure, you might need to polish the questions later, but research questions keep you in focus throughout the thesis. Make sure that they are appropriate for your topic and reflect what it is that you want to know.

Check your methods course books about how to formulate questions and examine your questions critically. Is there a normative assumption in the question? Is it a yes and no question? What kind of data do I need to answer this question and will I be able to get this data? Are there more than one questions in the question? Is this question researchable?

It is rather peculiar how easy it is to become “blind” about your own questions and not notice even things such as asking yes and no questions, or that the questions are too broad or have a normative assumption.

Aside feedback from a supervisor, a useful means to work with research questions is to discuss with your fellow students. Do they understand your questions? Can you understand theirs?

Be realistic

Your master thesis is not the last thing you will ever write, and it is definitely not your life work. So keep your thesis focused and do not add new questions over time. More topics mean that you have less space for each topic.

Keep your thesis focused. Here is a humorous illustration of the PhD that is also relevant for your Master thesis. It is quite natural that your thesis focus is on a tiny part of a big field of higher education and even bigger world beyond. This does not mean that it would not be a worthy contribution.

Do not get distracted by other topics that are also interesting and almost relevant. If research is something for you, you can pursue these topics later in your career. Writing your Master thesis is just a first step in your further career. (more…)

Call for participants: Winter school about in Krakow on: Democracy, expertise and power

arenaARENA – the Centre for European Studies at University of Oslo is arranging a winter school in cooperation with the Centre for European Studies at Jagiellonian University. The winter school takes place in Kraków in 7-15 February 2015 and is titled ‘Democracy, expertise and power: the role of experts in modern European societies“.

The winter school is free of charge and it is open for PhD and MA students from all countries, as well as alumni and other participants interested in the topic. Students who complete the course will obtain 5 ECTS.

Some of the key questions in focus in the winter school include:

  • Who is an expert?
  • What is knowledge?
  • How can we reconcile expertise with various types of democracy?
  • What is the role of academia in contemporary society and what are the implications of public-private partnership?
  • What is the role of mass/social media in developing social movements and democracy?

The organisers cover accomodation, participation and teaching materials. Participants are expected to cover their travel costs and living expenses while in Krakow.

Deadline for applications: 30 December 2014

Read more here

Call for contributions: IAU essay competition on internationalization!

IAUInternational Association of Universities (IAU) and the publisher Palgrave Macmillan Ltd have announced the IAU – Palgrave Prize in Higher Education Policy Research 2014-15.

The prize will be awarded to the winner of the essay competition. The theme for the essay competition is: Internationalization of Higher Education: Moving beyond mobility. The winning essay will be awarded a prize valued at £2,000.

The theme is also linked to the theme of the IAU 2015 International Conference. The conference takes place 28 – 30 October 2015 at the University of Siena (Siena, Italy).

Criteria – participant must be a scholar from a IAU member organisation (including both 590 universities across the world and a number of higher education associations). The submissions must be reasearch-based and analytically oriented, descriptive papers will not be retained. The essay should not be more than 7500 words, and needs to be submitted in English or French.

Deadline for submission: 15 June 2015. Read more here.