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Cantwell Co-edits Book on International Politics in Higher Education

Brendan Cantwell

Michigan State University scholar Brendan Cantwell is co-editor, and a contributing author, to a new publication that aims to underline the importance of understanding higher education politics, and its growing role in society.

The “Handbook on the Politics of Higher Education” (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018) is a global effort, with chapters from international scholars on funding, governance, regulation and other factors.

“The handbook can provide an up-to-date and research-based primer on many topics related to higher education politics and policy,” said Cantwell, associate professor of Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education (HALE). “This is one of the few books that addresses politics and policy questions from an international perspective.”

The co-editors also came to the project with a worldwide view. Cantwell created the book along with Hamish Coates, a professor with Tsinghua University’s Institute of Education and deputy director of the university’s Global Research Center for the Assessment of College and Student Development (China), and Roger King, a visiting professor in the University of Bath’s School of Management (United Kingdom).

Together, they devised a list of topics they would want to cover, including sections on the university, state and society; political economy and global governance; planning and resource allocation; regulation and quality; and the politics of stakeholder interests.

“The idea behind the book is that it will allow readers to develop a nuanced and complicated understanding of particular topics,” Cantwell continued. “While someone doing research on the topic will have to read beyond the chapters of the book, each chapter is intended to allow the reader to have a sense of the literature and important questions related to the topic. In this way, readers can ‘enter’ the topic through what we hope is a cutting-edge chapter.”

MSU research

Cantwell’s own contribution—”The geopolitics of academic science” (chapter 8)—was co-authored with HALE doctoral student Adam Grimm. They considered how countries competed with one another to capture the benefits of academic research and development. Specifically, they examined if 1990s and early 2000s understandings of the globalization of science were too optimistic about international collaboration in science, given the populist and nationalist turn in global politics. They also looked at the changing landscape of academic science and considered what the rise of China means for a global science position.

Co-editors Coates and King also contributed to chapters within the book, which is aimed at graduate students and researchers in the field. The wide array of topics and “unpacking of key issues” could also be beneficial to policymakers who want to understand a topic from an international or comparative perspective, Cantwell added.

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