Thoughts on Ben Wildavsky's "The Great Brain Race"

Dec 9 2011 - 12:35pm

Yes, it’s true; New York University students from Washington Square Park can simply fly across the Atlantic and complete their degrees at their satellite campus in Abu Dhabi, an island located on the northeastern part of the Persian Gulf in the Arabian Peninsula.


Globalization for higher education has become the vision of the 21st century. It exists in a world where students represent human capital and hold the key towards establishing knowledge economies and stimulating global prosperity.  As the demand for academic mobility rises, Wildavsky believes that the increasingly borderless academic world reflects a new kind of trade: free trade in minds.
Wildavsky argues that the phenomenon of globalization and “ the world-wide race for talent” is a revolution that should be embraced rather than feared. The international competition for the brightest minds of the future is transforming the world of higher education.
While Western Universities started the trend of establishing satellite campuses and encouraging academic mobility, it didn’t take long for the rest of the world to catch on and realize that the road to economic success and intellectual enterprises runs through college campuses. 
With separate prayer rooms for men and women, the royal family of Qatar created global partnerships with Western elite universities such as Cornell Weill Medical College, Carnegie Mellon School of Business, Georgetown School of Foreign Services, Northwestern School of Journalism, and Texas A&M University; and personally invited these world-class academic centers to establish satellite campuses on their soil.
Even though once a state where Arab women were traditionally not seen or heard in public, the United Arab Emirates welcomes freedom of speech and believes that this revolution is helping them prepare for their democratic transition towards achieving true academic excellence.
Globe-trotting has become increasingly desirable and countries such as Saudi Arabia, India, China, South Korea, Singapore, France, Germany, New Zealand and Australia, are eager to participate in the global academic race. With this, the conceptualization of higher education will continue to be challenged towards creating a global society as the games have just begun.