Up close and personal with - Kevin Kinser

Kevin Kinser is Professor and Head of the Department of Education Policy Studies, and Senior Scientist in the Center for the Study of Higher Education and Pennsylvania State University. He is also a Senior Fellow for Internationalisation at NAFSA: Association of International Educators. A graduate of Columbia University’s Teachers College (New York), Kinser studies non-traditional and alternative higher education. Co-founder of the Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT) which investigates the scope and impact of international branch campuses worldwide, Kinser is also the author of more than 70 articles, chapters, and scholarly reports, and has written and co-edited a number of books. Kinser is currently co-editing a tome on US quality assurance called Accreditation on the edge: Perspectives and controversies in higher education quality.



What do you like best about your job and why?
At Pennsylvania State University, I have the privilege of working at a flagship public research university in the United States. I know I have it pretty good compared to faculty at most other institutions around the world. I am deeply appreciative of the opportunities I have as a professor to conduct research and teach about things that I find inherently interesting. I am lucky to have the financial resources and administrative support I need in my role as Department Head for Educational Policy Studies. I enjoy having really smart and talented people around me as my faculty colleagues. The students I work with are engaged and dedicated to their chosen field of study—a true pleasure to be around. In sum, I have the best job in the world!

What is your current country of interest and why?
China. It is the most significant country in terms of higher education internationalisation in the world today. My research group – the Cross Border Higher Education Research Team – is launching a C-BERT China focus that draws on affiliated students and scholars to focus our research efforts on topics such as Chinese-foreign Collaboration in Running Schools (CCRS); academic freedom in Chinese international universities; overseas education ventures by Chinese HEIs; the One Belt One Road Initiative; the People-to-People Exchange Initiative; and capacity building in Chinese higher education systems and institutions.

What is your greatest challenge?
Time. I tend to have a lot on my plate, and am always looking at my schedule with amazement at how full it is. It is especially challenging to make sure that my time constraints don’t create stress for the people around me. I try to take the word “busy” out of my vocabulary and will correct people who assume I don’t have the time to listen to their ideas or give them feedback on their work. But, if I could get a few more hours of sleep, it would help!

What keeps you up at night?
I am deeply concerned about how expertise is devalued and even rejected in favor of ideology. This is a direct challenge to the value of truth as a guiding principle for analysing problems and developing solutions to them. The March for Science, held in the US and around the world on Earth Day, shows the significance of this issue and the serious outcome if we ignore the threat. Universities are defined by their collection of faculty experts and need to stand firm in their defense of expertise as having a fundamental role in civil society.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Science Fiction – particularly old science fiction written before the mid-20th century. I am also somewhat of a Trekkie (TNG, for those who are wondering). I could make the argument that science fiction is relevant to internationalisation and cross-cultural understanding. But you’re not asking for justifications, are you?


26/06/2017 - 09:57