Bringing Universities back In: From a Republic of Facultés to a Republic of Universities

Bringing Universities back In: From a Republic of Facultés to a Republic of Universities

By Christine Musselin - 19/20 November 2020
  • Amphithêatre©Shutterstock/Matej KastelicAmphithêatre©Shutterstock/Matej Kastelic


Higher Education and State-Building since 1945: Comparative Perspectives

19-20 November 2020


Ekaterina Shibanova, Higher School of Economics, Moscow

Mitchell L. Stevens, Stanford University

Project rationale:

The close of World War II precipitated a concatenation of academic institution-building worldwide. University expansion was implicated in efforts to repair and strengthen European nation-states; in the dismantlement of European empires; in the geopolitical projects of the twentieth-century Cold War; in the intertwined ideologies of modernization and development; and in the coalescence of a global organizational system some have called world society.

The close of the twentieth century was accompanied by substantial change in national academic regimes in tandem with the collapse of the Soviet Union, the reunification of Germany, the formalization of the European Union, the transnationalization of capital flows, and the digitization of knowledge. Throughout these changes, universities have been spectacularly multifarious civic actors: catalyzing relationships between government, market and philanthropic spheres; fostering social mobility; producing conceptual frameworks and vocabularies of sense-making that are raw materials for state policies, practices, and subjectivities; and providing nodes and templates for distributed collective action across national borders. 

For a special issue of the European Journal of Higher Education, we have commissioned historians, political scientists and sociologists to produce original articles synthesizing the implication of higher education in the evolution of seven states since 1945. All authors (or author-teams) have responded to the same call. The ambition is twofold: (a) accrete a truly transnational scholarly discourse on the role of higher education in post-WWII political and social histories; (b) inform policy debates worldwide about the funding, organizational structure, and mandates of higher education in the twenty-first century.


In lieu of scheduled conference sessions at the Social Science History Association, the guest editors are convening digitally from 8 - 11 AM PST on Thursday 19 and Friday 20 November per the following schedule. The goal is to provide peer review of draft manuscripts and hone collective themes. We welcome participation from the global academic community. If you would like to join the discussion in whole or in part, please write to Mitchell Stevens at to obtain Zoom credentials.


Higher Education and State-Building since 1945: Comparative Perspectives

19-20 November 2020 via Zoom

Format: To minimize Zoom fatigue and encourage critical and forward discourse, there will be no paper presentations by authors. Instead, each paper will have a designated discussant who will briefly summarize the paper’s argument and main points and then offer critical commentary intended to improve the work. Discussants each will offer ten minutes of commentary, followed by collective exchange.

Zoom information: Contact Mitchell Stevens at

(times listed are Pacific Standard Time)


8 - 8.15 welcome and introductions

8.15 - 8.25 Ambitions for our assembly (Mitchell: 10 minutes including discussion)

8.25 - 9.00 Metaphors for conceptualizing higher education (Kate: 10 mins + 25 minutes discussion)

9 - 9.10 break

9.10 - 10 paper session 1

“University as Producer of Knowledge and Market and Societal Value: The UK Higher Education System, 1950-2020,” Yasemin Soysal and Roxana Baltaru University of Essex

presenters/discussants: Mitterle/Stock

“The Academization of German Society? The Changing Role of Higher Education in Structuring Life Chances in Germany since 1945” Alexander Mitterle and Manfred Stock, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg

presenters/discussants: Braband/Powell

10 - 10.10 break

10.10 - 11 paper session 2

“Developing Higher Education in Luxembourg: Europe’s Continuous, Varied Impact” Gangolf Braband and Justin J.W. Powell

presenter/discussant: Musselin

“Canada’s Evolving Prism: Three Eras of Higher Education and Nation-Building since 1945” Scott Davies, University of Toronto; Janice Aurini, University of Waterloo

presenter/discussant: Malinovskiy/Shibanova


8.10 - 9 paper session 3

“Swedish Higher Education 1945 to 2025: From Massification and Central Planning to Internationalization and Market Solutions” Mikael Borjesson and Tobias Dalberg, Uppsala University

presenter/discussant: Soysal

"Higher Education in Soviet and Russian Welfare States”

Sergey Malinovskiy and Ekaterina Shibanova, Higher School of Economics, Moscow

presenters/discussants: Borjesson/Dalberg

9 - 9.10 break

9.10 - 35 paper session 4

Musselin“Bringing Universities back In: From a Republic of Facultés to a Republic of Universities”Christine Musselin, Sciences Po, CSO, CNRS

presenters/discussants: Davies/Aurini


 9.35 - 9.50 break

9.50 - 11 group discussion: harmonizing our efforts toward a collective contribution

opening comments: Manja Klemencic and David Labaree


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