08. May | 2019

IRS launches podcast Society@Space with international guests of Leibniz Junior Research Group TRANSEDU

Now, you can learn about research on society and space by listening online. On May 8th 2019, the new IRS podcast "Society@Space“ was launched with its first episode "Welcome to Nottingham, Malaysia“. In it, three internationally renowned guests of IRS, who did research on the globalisation of higher education, talk about their work: Sarah Hall (Nottingham, UK), Francis Collings (Waikato, New Zealand) amd Kris Olds (Madison, USA) were in Erkner in early January of 2019 following an invitation by Jana Kleibert (IRS) to coach three PhD students working in the Leibniz Junior Research Group TRANSEDU.

On the evening of January 9th 2019, three people met in a recording studio in Berlin Treptow for the first time in this lineup: Sarah Hall, professor of economic geography University of Nottingham (UK), Francis Collins, professor of geography at the University of Waikato (Neuseeland) and Kristopher Olds, professor of geography at the University of Wisconsin in Madison (USA). The occasion for this encounter: Following an invitation by Jana Kleibert, leader of the Junior Research Grup TRANSEDU, the guests - who together constitute the TRANSEDU advisory board - had arrived in Berlin to discuss the work plans by the group's three PhD students, Alice Bobee, Tim Rottleb and Mark Schulze, at a workshop the following day.

The TRANSEDU group had started its work in April 2018. It studies international branch campuses (IBCs) of universities. The number of such locations has increased massively since the 1990s, indicating a fundamental shift in universities' self perception: Many higher education institutions today see themselves as global service providers. At the same time, they often benefit from their home country's reputation for excellent higher education, as do British universities, and present themselves accordingly in their host countries - for instance by setting up exact replica of university buildings. The research group addresses the questions how branch campuses work and which logics and interests guide their formation. Alice Bobee, Tim Rottleb and Mark Schulze had worked on their own research proposals and work plans since summer of 2018, and are currently starting empirical work. During the January workshop, which in addition to Hall, Collins and Olds was also attended by external project members Neil Coe (professor at the Department of Geography der National University of Singapore) and Bas van Heur (professor am Department of Geography, Vrije Universiteit Brussels), they received vital feedback before advancing into the field.

Hall, Collins and Olds did research on various aspects of higher education globalization throughout the last years. They each had highly individual encounters with the topic: As university employees they are affected by changes in the higher education sector. At the same time they each were in positions to shape university internationalization in their respective institutions. From the vantage point of IRS's research communication, this encounter was an opportunity to initiate a new audio format: A podcast for conversations with social scientists focussing, on the one hand, on research topics but also, on the other hand, on the backgrounds, experiences and views, personal and subjective as they are, of the people who do social science research, thus giving listeners a behind-the-scenes impression of what drives this ongoing endeavor.

In this spirit, IRS communication officer Felix Müller asked the guests: What are the reasons and motivations behind globalizing universities? Has higher education become a global commodity? And how does university internationalization affect students, faculty and places – those involved and those not involved? The conversation quickly revealed that there is a surprising multitude of motivations, strategies and emergent global-local relations. It also showed that there is not just one way, one model of globalization. Instead, we need to look at the peripheries, the vast number of "normal" universities rather than a few elite institutions, and at the internationalization at home, the global relatedness you can touch just by crossing the street.

The recording of this conversation was published in the first episode of IRS's podcast Society@Space. More episodes will follow, with languages alternating between German and English. The podcast is accessible on two platforms.

Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/de/podcast/society-space/id1459840696?l=en

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/1R9uPVIsdXtyvPeVLEkuSa

Furthermore, it is directly accessible via the IRS website.