From the 5th to the 7th of May 2022, members of the ERUA WP2 research group and other interested parties came together in Konstanz for their second research group workshop on “The History and Legacy of Reform: Changing Promises and Realities of Higher Education”. Under the coordination of Anne Kwaschik, the three-day workshop explored both the existing and the plausible future alternatives to Higher Education. Over the next two years, this topic will be picked up again in a workshop series that discusses the questions of how and why reform universities emerged, what it meant to be an alternative in the past and what it would mean to be an alternative today in the modern landscape of Higher Education.
The workshop was launched by the keynote lecture “Semper Reformanda: Reform and the University Through History” given by William Whyte from the University of Oxford. The lecture addressed the questions why change so often takes the form of reversion to older types and why reform rarely amounts to the dissolution or replacement of a university. Inspired by William Whyte’s lecture, the discussions were carried on with a view over the lake during a reception held on K7.
The next two days, the fruitful exchange continued as the ERUA research group members discussed the scope and impact of Higher Education and the transformation of Higher Education by new forms of funding, evaluation, and organization together with external guests.
Sophie Agulhon (University of Paris 8) and Gerardo Romo (University of Guadalajara / University of Paris 8) examined the dialectic of patronage and autonomy since the 1960s by analyzing the cases of the universities of Paris 8 and Guadalajara (Western Mexico). Subsequently, Anne Kwaschik (University of Konstanz) discussed how the effects of the extensive introduction of project management have been addressed by scholars and administrators in the 1960s and 1970s.
Under the overarching topic of digitalization, Kristian Bankov (New Bulgarian University) prepared the ground for the next workshop taking place in fall 2022 in Bulgaria which will deal with the impact of digitalization on Higher Education. Asher Boersma (University of Konstanz) added to the debate by providing comments on what digitalization brings to universities in times of major challenges.
Kasper Risbjerg Eskildsen (Roskilde University) and Metodi Metodiev (New Bulgarian University) focused on the introduction of new educational practices such as the beginnings of new forms of general or civic education in different periods and contexts using two case studies: Interwar North America and post-communist Bulgaria. They considered the ambivalent legacy of these practices and specified the trajectory of the relationship between civic activity and the role of teaching and researching in Higher Education.
The paper presentations were concluded by Kristoffer Kropp (Roskilde University) and Panagiotis Grigoriou (University of the Aegean) who addressed the Europeanisation of research (social science) by funding through EU FPs, national incentives for transnational collaboration and mobility as well as the emergence of European associations of social sciences.
Finally, looking at the future of the ERUA WP2 research group, the participants exchanged their thoughts on joint initiatives with emphasis on research and publication opportunities in a working session chaired by Anastasisa Konstantelou (University of the Aegean).
The academic part of the workshop was complemented by a tour of the University of Konstanz introducing how the university’s reform character is reflected in its architecture. Furthermore, the participants were taken on a journey to the university’s origins in the Steigenberger Inselhotel and explored the shores of the Bodensee in the vineyards of Meersburg.
The ERUA team in Konstanz thanks everyone who participated in the workshop and contributed to its success!