Spatialities and Flows of Education and Scientific Knowledge

by Fiona Ferbrache

Last month marked the first anniversary of the European Higher Education Area (EHEA), a space comprised of 47 states seeking to harmonise their higher education systems through a series of reforms.  The EHEA was created as the main objective of the Bologna Process that came into being in 1999 (EHEA, 2010).  Through consensus and coordination, education ministers of these 47 states aim to make it easier for degrees to be comparable throughout the EHEA, thus promoting student mobility and international competitiveness of the European higher education system (see EUA, 2011 for reports on this process).

The spatiality of learning is the theme of my post this week.  I draw upon the Bologna Process and EHEA as examples of ways in which social fields are constructed across (national and societal) boundaries in Europe.  In contrast, Bajerski (in press) provides an example showing how scientific knowledge can become halted at boundaries.  Bajerski examines the role of different language journals (French, German and Spanish) in the communication of geographic knowledge, and argues that their contributions remain almost exclusively within their own country and language.  In this way, the communication of geographic knowledge can become relatively closed to wider academic audiences.  The paper illustrates two key reasons for this; the first symbolic, and the second relating to organizational and economic structure.

While the EHEA offers a unified area for higher education, we might draw upon Bajerski’s work to consider some of the complex boundaries that continue to exist against the internationalisation of scientific knowledge across Europe.

Bajerski, A. (in press) The role of French, German and Spanish journals in scientific communication in international geography. Area. EHEA (2010) The Official Bologna Process Website. http://www.ehea.info/ Accessed 29 March 2011 EUA (2011) EUA involvement in the Bologna Process. http://www.eua.be/bologna-universities-reform/ Accessed 29 March 2011

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