Happy Birthday – GlobalHigherEd turns 1

Greetings from Madison (pictured to the right) and Bristol as summer draws to a close, term has started (at least in Madison), and we get moving again.

It has been just a few days since the one-year anniversary of the establishment of GlobalHigherEd. This weblog (blog for short) was an idea under consideration for some time following the establishment of a Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) facilitated research and graduate student exchange relationship.  But the blog only came to be initiated amidst the free space and inspiration enabled by a sabbatical (for Kris) in Paris at Sciences Po, a wonderful base to be situated in.

Since then, we (as co-editors and contributors) have found the development process fascinating, entirely worthwhile in engaging in, yet also challenging. Expectations have evolved in a number of ways.

At first the blog was meant to, as we noted in the About page, replace some intra-research network emailing:

We used to bounce emails around about such developments titled ‘FYI’ but they always seemed to disappear into the ether! We hope that the GlobalHigherEd blog will act as an accessible archive of information about such developments, both for ourselves and also for other people (regardless of location or institutional base) with complementary interests.

Yet the platform of the blog has enticed us into working harder that we expected. Over time we have attempted to frame wider, lay greater context, be more analytical, and take advantage of the hyperlink function to identify and flag relational networks. We were also drawn into developing more mini-analyses than we expected – the most advanced being the piece on metaphors (‘Education cities, knowledge villages, schoolhouses, education hubs, and hotspots: emerging metaphors for global higher ed‘), and the series spun out of an OBHE report. The glories of a sabbatical year, and a semi-sabbatical term (for Susan) in Amsterdam – the new workshops within reach, and the new contacts and friends in continental Europe – provided considerable inspiration for many of our entries.

Over time GlobalHigherEd has also hosted a number of guest entries (see the About page for a listing of the guest contributors), and it has been a pleasure to work with everyone to use this platform to speak about the ongoing, and indeed hastening of, what we would classify as the globalization of higher education and research.

In developing GlobalHigherEd, it is clear to us that this platform is a genuinely different way of producing rapid and accessible knowledge that has, in turn, a capacity to generate a myriad of impacts (from the tangible reframing of strategy to simple reflective pauses). We make this statement on the basis of dialogue we have engaged in with readers/viewers; people who engage with GlobalHigherEd but prefer, for a myriad of reasons, not to inscribe their views on the Comments section. GlobalHigherEd is now used by a wide range of people for thinking through issues being worked through public and private institutions (including research centres, foundations, multilateral organizations, universities, and the higher ed media), and we draw inspiration from this fact.

We are wary, though, that GlobalHigherEd is not actually global in scope, and some scales and geographies have received miniscule levels of coverage. In our defense we need to remind readers that while we received some helpful support to get this going, running the blog is a voluntary endeavour, one squeezed out betwixt and between our other duties in Bristol and Madison. Moreover, we happily acknowledge that we are focused on the key ‘movers and shakers’ associated with shaping the processes that are spurring on the globalization of higher education and research. One can only do so much, and we are keen to do what we do best, versus stretch too far in too many directions. This said, we recently loaded up a mapping widget on GlobalHigherEd, and while it does not capture all of the traffic to the site, it is fascinating to see what geographies are linking to us (the map below captures partial traffic between 8 August and 2 September).

As we have noted before, the absence of readership in China is due to Chinese government censorship (their filters screen out almost all WordPress.com blogs).

In closing off this anniversary entry, we expect to continue developing GlobalHigherEd over coming academic year. Some key themes to be addressed in the near future include ‘knowledge cities’; higher education, innovation, and regional development; a mapping of how ‘global’ higher education markets are being conceptualized; an index of indexes; regionalism, interregionalism and higher education restructuring; the EU’s soon to be launched strategic framework on the “coordination of international science and technology cooperation”; bibliometrics; EU-US higher education and research relations; branding Canada’s higher education system; GATS; strategies for the development of a strategic framework for international science and technology cooperation (though at the institute/centre level); branch/overseas campuses; and so on.

We would also like to invite people to contact us if you would like to fashion a guest entry for GlobalHigherEd. We welcome explorations of various aspects of the construction of new knowledge/spaces for the ‘knowledge economy’…an ongoing project if there ever was one.

So, Happy Birthday!

Kris Olds & Susan Robertson

11 thoughts on “Happy Birthday – GlobalHigherEd turns 1

  1. Thanks to Brad and Andy for the birthday wishes, and for the note about comparing maps (assuming the data is accurate).

    Andy: assuming we both have roughly equal capacity to reach audiences, then I see stronger interest in your blog from countries and regions that are have an interest in, and capacity to, build alumni relations. In contrast the interest we seem to be drawing in is from fast changing systems (e.g., the Middle East), and from places where some ministerial or agency power seems to be concentrated. Who is in charge of alumni relations? Universities are, though I realize some regions (e.g., Europe) and ministries are extremely curious about how to facilitate the building of alumni relations on behalf of their universities. System changes vis a vis the construction of new knowledge/spaces tends to be driven forward by ministries and other arms of government, which might generate a different map outcome. Language is obviously an issue holding back access to both blogs in certain countries and regions. I also noted your presence in China…you’re not on their censored list, at least not yet!! Thanks again…best,


  2. Kris, I’m going to ponder your comments – and maybe work up a blog posting on Alumni Futures about some of the governance questions wrapped up in this. As for China, well I’m on TypePad….

  3. Congratulations. As an ‘avid’ reader, thanks for the work you do bringing interesting education issues to light from around the world.

  4. Andy,

    Yes I am curious how you think about governance, broadly defined…who really governs “alumni relations”…and how do the scales of governance mesh? Off the top of my head I can imagine offices like yours mattering, but also other key parts of universities (though this will vary on a public vs private basis in the USA), states, federal authorities (via taxation), and so on. And how is the drive forward in other countries to build alumni relations (alumni futures…) dealing with the governance issue? Are they thinking about it? Refashioning systems and structures?

    I look forward to reading your post!

  5. Congratulations from the red blob in the mid-Atlantic. Your site is a lifeline to the HE community interested in globalisation for me here in Bermuda. Keep it up!

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