April 22, 2020 - 12:00 pm


April 22, 2020 - 1:30 pm


Koc University- Rumelifeneri Campus, SOS143   View map

MiReKoc Wednesday seminar co-organized with the Department of Sociology and KuAsia continues with Yasemin Soysal’s presentation on ‘Global Citizens or Global Individuals?  “Cosmopolitan” Orientations Among Tertiary Education Students’. The presentation and discussion will take place on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020, at 12:00, in SOS143. Registration is required for participants not affiliated with Koç University to

Title: Global Citizens or Global Individuals?  “Cosmopolitan” Orientations Among Tertiary Education Students

Abstract: The contemporary higher education is a transnational organizational field.  Recent decades have seen higher education systems being increasingly embedded within a global framework of competition, much facilitated and maintained by world rankings and excellence initiatives.  Rankings and excellence schemes help diffuse universalistic templates of university and its purpose.  They not only facilitate a global imaginary of university as an “organizational actor” (through transnational benchmarks of excellence), but also facilitate standardized conceptions of higher education student, self-motivated, agentic, and globally oriented, who can easily move and learn across national borders and higher education systems.  In such imaginaries, both the university and student are projected as global citizens.

To what extent local and diverse higher education contexts are articulated with such global imaginaries?   Drawing upon an ongoing research project, a multi-sited survey of Chinese higher education students in China and Europe (with control groups of European students), I will offer individual level analysis to elaborate how dominant conceptions of global citizenship frame student aspirations, self-projections, and orientations.  Project findings point to convergence among European and Chinese survey respondents, independent of whether they have migrated for their education or not, around the ideal of higher education student having broad aspirations, being pro-active and open (to the world and others), and aware of their individuality. Regarding commitment to global social solidarities, however, a less clear pattern transpires. While European students are more likely to display “cosmopolitan” orientations, in the case of Chinese students, irrespective of whether they are in Europe or China, we observe a stronger social commitment to co-nationals and the nation. I argue that, in interpreting these results, we need to take into consideration the timing and context within which China is making its entry into the global world.  A latecomer, China has to prove itself as a legitimate nation-state a in a multi-polar world. Thus, it pushes a vigorous entrance with a strong global outlook and at the same time a valorized national identity, as reflected in its educational and science policies.  For the current generation of Chinese students their national pride and positioning of themselves as global individuals seem to be axiomatic, not contradictory.

Bio: Yasemin Soysal is Professor of Sociology, and member of the Center for Migration Studies and the Center for Human Rights, University of Essex. Her research brings transnational and global perspectives to the study of the historical development and contemporary reconfigurations of the nation-state, citizenship, and human rights, with specific interest in the transnational transformations of the national (for recent examples, see: “Mapping the Terrain of Transnationalization: Nation, Citizenship, and Region” and “Citizenship, Immigration, and the European Social Project: Rights and Obligations of Individuality”[2012 British Journal of Sociology Annual Lecture]). She is currently preoccupying herself with the theorization and empirical studies of the transnationally standardized scripts of the individual with agency and expectations (competitive, aspirational, and meritocratically capable), focusing on three analytical nodes: a) the processes and agencies of the diffusion of such scripts in an increasingly fragmented and multi-polar world order, b) the scripts and institutions of the agentic individual in comparative contexts, and c) the paradoxical implications of the increasing gap between the scripts and institutional practices. The two research projects she is leading speak to these questions. First one is a large scale, multi-sited survey of higher education students in China, Japan, UK, and Germany (over a representative sample size of 8000), focusing on self-projections and future orientations among other things. The second one is on the transformations of higher education institutions in their pursuit of internationalization, collecting comparative data on organizational level strategic goals and indicators such as human resources and governance structures dedicated to the internationalization mission. Before taking her post at Essex, Soysal was John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Sociology and Faculty Associate of the Centre for European Studies and the Centre for International Affairs at Harvard University. She has been German Marshall Fund Research Fellow, National Academy of Education Spencer Fellow, National Endowment of Humanities Research Fellow, Jean Monnet Fellow, Wissenschaftskolleg Fellow, visiting scholar at Max Planck Institute, Berlin, and visiting professor at Juan March Institute, Madrid, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, New York University, the Willy Brandt Guest Professor at the Institute for Studies of Migration, Diversity and Welfare, Malmo, the Niklas Luhmann distinguished visiting chair at Bielefeld University, and the distinguished visiting professor at Koc University. Soysal is past-president of the European Sociology Association, and has served on the editorial boards of Citizenship Studies, Oxford Bibliographies Online, Multicultural Education Review, ASA Rose Book Series, Ethnic and Racial Studies and international advisory board of Ethnicities. She is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Carlos III-Juan March Institute, Madrid, and previously the Georg-Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Braunschweig. Since 2000, she has held research grants from the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK (ESRC), German Science Foundation (DFG), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), Leverhulme Trust, British Academy, the Hong Kong Research Grant Council, and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness.