19 Apr 2017

Regionalisation in international education

This week, the EAIE is launching the spring 2017 issue of its member magazine Forum. Each Forum is themed, and this issue we take a closer look at the relationship between regionalisation and international education. Are these opposite concepts? How is regionalisation affected by rising nationalism? In today’s blog post, Laura Rumbley, Chair of the Publications Committee, introduces the multifaceted relationship between the regional and the international.
 
 
In the concentric circles of our lives as international educators, we are connected to many spaces: our own institutional environments, the national context where live, and of course, the global environment that frames so much of the way we think about and elaborate our work. But what about some of the ‘middle spaces’ we occupy? From my perspective, one of the most interesting among these has to do with the realm of ‘regions’.

An issue of definition

Regions are fascinating in the way many of them provoke such a strong sense of affinity, while often defying clear consensus as to what exactly defines their contours. Europe easily stands out as a case in point. Europe is a clearly recognised region – or is it? As with many other world regions, ‘Europe’ can be defined ‘regionally’ in multiple ways, and it is also correctly understood as a complex, multi-layered region of regions. So, what is regionalisation and what does it mean to our work? This issue of Forum explores this very question.
 
We interviewed scholar Manja Klemenčič (see our free Editor’s pick for download), who provides an excellent starting point for this discussion by highlighting some of the key rationales and complexities surrounding regional cooperation in European higher education circles. Articles in this issue explore regionalisation through other lenses. Author Gabriele Suder offers a financial and economic perspective by considering the effects of free trade agreements and regional trade agreements on international higher education. We gain insights into the regional experience of a border-spanning initiative between universities at the crossroads of France, Germany and Switzerland thanks to Hans-Jochen Schiewer and Janosch Nieden. Susan Robertson helps us consider the big-picture scope and variety of a world of ‘global regionalisms’.

Nationalism on the rise

An undercurrent in our discussion on regionalisation in this issue of Forum is the rise of nationalism seen in many quarters around the world today. This is challenging not so much because of the primacy it gives to nations – already front and centre in the notion of ‘internationalisation’ itself – but more so because of the accompanying blanket rejection of all interests beyond the national.
 
There is no question that regionalisation is fraught with possibilities and pitfalls. However, given that the very name of the EAIE speaks to a regional orientation (‘European’), and in light of the very special nature of the European project undertaken in the decades since the Second World War, which has been deeply influential around the world as a model for regional peace and prosperity, exploring some of the many dimensions of the phenomenon of regionalisation is surely worth our time.
 
Stay tuned for two more blog posts on the connection between regionalisation and international education. The magazine is online. EAIE members can access it in full from the Resources corner – and will receive it at home soon. Non-members can download the Editor’s pick for free. Become an EAIE member to gain access to quality international education resources like Forum.
 
Laura is Chair of the EAIE Publications Committee and Associate Director at the Boston College Center for International Higher Education, USA.