Shiny Happy Universities? A Comparative Analysis of Diversity Politics in International Higher Education
All around the world, higher education institutions (HEIs) highlight the importance of creating a cosmopolitan and diverse space based on values that include equal participation of university members regardless of factors such as age, disability or health impairment, gender and sexual orientation, social background and social/family status, nationality, ethnicity, religion, and worldview. The project critically explores the successes and pitfalls of several international HEIs in their paths to transform this idea from mere mission to tangible change in order to prioritize diversity.
Building on discursive institutionalism, we explore what meanings are given to diversity within the institutional framework of higher education from a comparative transnational perspective. Furthermore, we inquire about the similarities and dissimilarities in the way different HEIs addresses questions such as how a non-discriminatory space can be created and how structures can be reorganized accordingly. Through the analytical engagement with the diversity policies of over five HEIs located in widely different geographical and socio-political contexts and the resistance and institutional challenges that its diversity implementers face, the paper contributes insights to the discussion surrounding diversity and where the foci and limits to diversity work lie. In this manner, and following Ahmed (2012) the paper focuses on the politics behind what is made (in)visible when diversity is used as the “happy point” of intersectionality in the context of higher education.