March 25, 2009

Daily Report – Day 2 – Tuesday, March 24

Today snow alternated with sunshine. Inside, a flurry of comments, ideas and recommendations from workshop participants brightened the topic du jour: internationalization and inequality in doctoral education. By Friday, participants will finalize new policy recommendations and action steps about this topic and others.

The day started with a progress report from the hard-working, 14-member Task Force One. They asked all participants for opinions about internationalization and inequality in doctoral education. Responses ranged from “dispense with borders and obstacles,” to “raise collective intelligence,” to the ethics and mechanics of mobility for people with doctorates—especially researchers.

A Task Force One draft paper addresses these perspectives and identifies other related issues, intended to influence policy and funding. “Who can we influence, how, and…when,” asked one participant, summarizing the ultimate goal of this group.

Mary-Louise Kearney, Director of the UNESCO Forum on Higher Education, Research and Knowledge, New Zealand/France – “Doctoral Education in the Knowledge Society: Current Issues”

Wilhelm Krull, Secretary General of the Volkswagen Foundation – “Policies and Practices to Create a More Equitable Distribution of Intellectual Capital Globally”

Two expert commentators contributed their perspectives to the work of Task Force One, from an international organization and from a philanthropic organization, respectively:

Kearney presentation highlights:

  • The need to rethink doctoral education in the context of the knowledge society and the knowledge economy
  • The need for universities to become even more central as knowledge producers and to be taken much more seriously by policy-makers as incubators of solutions
  • Essential pre-requisites for high-level knowledge production: intellectual capital (advanced academic credentials), robust research and development (R&D), strong communication and information technology capacity
  • “Unless the will of the government is there (to support doctoral education), you will have this up and down…instability.”
  • Countries making major progress in “planning their knowledge base” by supporting doctoral education: Singapore (quadrupled PhD production from 1990-2004); Brazil (rising investment in higher education); China (exemplary global collaboration); and Qatar (accelerated research and development capacity)
  • “If intellectual capacity remains inequitably distributed, we will face more challenges than we do now.”

Krull presentation highlights:

  • How private foundations from various countries, even in times of crisis, are supporting capacity building to aid internationalization; how the Volkswagen Foundation Initiative for Africa models a “truly symmetric partnership”
  • The need to include doctoral students in international cooperation
  • Knowledge in science is not enough; “history, humanities and the arts are more than luxuries” (citing the work of Alvin Kwiram, a chemist from the University of Washington – USA)
  • “Ninety-five percent of new science in the world is created in countries comprising only one-fifth of the world’s population. We can do better.”
Other presenters on March 24:
  • Sandra Elman, President of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (USA) – “Feedback from an Accreditation Viewpoint”
  • William Zumeta, Professor, Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs, University of Washington, (USA) and Senior Fellow, National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education – “How to Translate Policy-Relevant Research Into Policy Frameworks and Policy Language”

Highlights of issues and questions presented and discussed throughout the day, related to internationalization and inequality in doctoral education:

  • Who “owns” intellectual capital? Is it an individual good—or a societal good? Who validates knowledge?
  • The need to contextualize any analysis of doctoral education.
  • There is a need to re-examine national immigration and labor policies and to influence them in order to achieve greater equity in the flow of talent.
  • Consensus was expressed about the establishment of symmetric international collaborations in doctoral programs.
  • Task Force members from all three groups spent much of the afternoon synthesizing the morning’s input, deliberating, and preparing to craft policy recommendations.
  • Preview for tomorrow: Video highlights – speakers, task force panel discussion—and much more!

Margaret Kiley introduces us to the issues of Task Force 1:

Jorge Balan (Center for Studies on State & Society) comments: