Projects, Processes, Politics
Edited by Susan L. Robertson, Kris Olds, Roger Dale and Que Anh Dang
Introduction: global regionalisms and higher education
Over the past two decades, a growing number of researchers interested in transformations in world orders have focused their attention on the growth of supra-national (as opposed to sub-national) regions, and the role of education in this process. Indeed, just over a decade ago, two of us (Dale and Robertson, 2002) published a paper reflecting on such developments, arguing that state-created regional organizations were significant agents in powering and steering the forces that make up global capitalism. In the paper we pointed out that each of these organizations operates in a geographical ‘regional’ space that is itself constructed (for instance the ‘Asia Pacific’ or Latin America), that such regions are the deliberate creation of national governments ceding some authority and sovereignty to the bodies orchestrating and mediating their development, and that these global regionalisms differed from each other. These differences were not only the result of the kind of emphases they placed on the form of economic relations, but also because political, cultural and historical dynamics mediate the nature of their institutional forms and other social relations. Our paper went on to examine in greater depth what were at the time three prominent regional groupings – the European Union (EU), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum – through an exploration of their form and purpose, the dimensions of power at work (such as decisions, agenda-setting, rules of the game), and the nature of the effects on national and sub-national education systems, whether directly on education policies (such as new curricula, discourses of inclusion, quality assurance mechanisms) or the broader politics of education (such as how social sectors like education were being recalibrated by, or indeed calibrating, bigger political projects).