Track 1:
Theoretical, conceptual, and methodological challenges

The questions arising under this theme are ample and would include: What is an engaged university? How can we deploy theoretical and conceptual tools to advance our thinking and knowledge on this issue and the challenges that come with it? How can we effectively rethink the role, place and nature of governance, policy, and various actors and stakeholders in and around higher education?

What kind of challenges do contemporary times pose to the wellestablished understandings of the historical role(s) of universities and higher education more generally? In what way and to what extent could higher education affect wider social dynamics and address the challenges of the contemporary world? How can disciplinary knowledge be especially of use here? What is the state of research method in contemporary higher education research and how can we improve it to better meet the challenges of studying an engaged university and engagement in academic more generally?

Contributions discussing various disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches in constructing and deconstructing the notion of an engaged higher education institution are especially welcome under this theme.

Track 2:
Policy and practice-oriented challenges

The discussion under this perspective is open for contributions around specific local/ regional/ national/ global issues and challenges pertaining to the practice of engagement in HE. Empirical studies on how different approaches have been employed and embedded within academic core pillars (teaching and research), as well as those focusing on the role of academics and students are welcomed.

Some of the crucial questions in this theme would be: How do higher education systems and HEIs negotiate tensions between excellence and engagement, between rigour and relevance? How is, and whether it is at all, higher education responding to global crises and challenges – refugees, poverty, terrorism, climate change, SDGs, and so forth? Are HEIs actually tackling the more controversial aspects of these challenges or is it staying with the “safer” ones? Is academia critical or critical enough? What theories are readily applicable to investigating the role of higher education in terms of an engagement agenda and practice? How can theory advance an ethos and culture of engagement? What is the state of knowledge on the impact of higher education on society at large and especially with regards to this theme.

Track 3:
Culture of engagement in HE and conceptual challenges

The discussion under this perspective is open for more idiosyncratic, cultural and contextual approaches to the engaged university – moving from generic to the diverse. Some of the issues of interest in this theme would be around the historical perspectives on (diss) engagement, as well as around conceptualising both the pathway of institutionalisation and the role university leaders play in shaping and transforming the culture of engagement.

How do mission statements, strategic plans, leadership rhetoric, organisational structures, curricula, promotion and tenure practices, hiring guidelines, external communications, capital campaigns, various assessment exercises and rankings ‘communicate’ the culture of engagement? Moving from global to the ‘glocal’ higher education? Contributions discussing organisational culture that can explain why some institutions embrace engagement, why some of them struggle with the change process, and why some deny such shifts in the organisation’s culture are welcomed.

Open Track:
Core themes in higher education research

This track is meant to accommodate high-quality contributions pursuing themes of continuing relevance in higher education research that do not have a specific fit within mentioned perspectives and are not explicitly connected to the main theme of the conference. This track is equally important and welcomes papers from a wide range of perspectives in the field of higher education research.