How do I engage with global transformations?
At the largest discernible level is the global context, referred to as meta. We live in a globalised world that is already connected in many ways through travel and telecommunications. Innovations in those areas are increasing the connectedness but also changing the ways in which we are connected. Human interventions and activities are extending further across national boundaries.
The way we organise higher education has drastically changed because of these global phenomena: digitalisation, digital transformation. e-learning, multi and social media platforms, LMSs, and artificial intelligence, to name a few. Think of how people and students around the world have become dependent on these new technologies for information, communication, and learning purposes. These global phenomena have a technical aspect but also social aspect that are inextricably linked. Fresh on everyone’s memory is the COVID-19 pandemic that is no longer widespread but still ongoing. During the pandemic, the social aspect of our connectedness became very clear through the spread of the virus. However, the technical aspect also came to the fore through the technologies that mediated our communication. There are other examples of this social aspect still, such as internationalisation and (intercultural) exchanges, which are the result of endeavours to increase the ties among HEIs in different countries.
This engagement will allow you to reflect on how globalisation has transformed inequalities and therefore requires new approaches to equity, justice, and the work of inclusion. Before looking at concrete instances of such interactions, it is useful to expand on the meta context and what it exactly entails.
From the meta level or global perspective, one can see global trends in higher education that – in part at least – shape priorities, policies, and curricula. Examples of these can be seen in international collaborations such as mobility programs and interuniversity courses, but also other developments such as technological advancements, migration, and global social movements. The latter has given impetus to greater prioritisation of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on multiple levels. Many governments and higher education institutions have engaged in the process of providing an adequate policy response to these movements. Similarly, digitalisation impacts society in many ways. It has changed communication and social behaviour, democratised information, and facilitated expression and dissemination. It enhances accessibility and agency in many ways, while impeding accessibility and agency in many other ways. Digitalisation in general has also been subject to scrutiny because of the ways in which it can reproduce or exacerbate inequalities through artificial intelligence. Technological innovations have changed the way we organise higher education. As described in our Handbook of e-inclusion, technology use in education has the potential to enhance diversification and flexibility, but at the same time poses challenges in terms of safety and belonging. Such innovations have offered us the ability to adapt to different situations and equipped educators with tools to improve the educational experience of students and their diverse needs.