New book: China and Europe on the New Silk Road

Connecting Universities Across Eurasia

The new book China and Europe on the New Silk Road addresses the opportunities, controversies and tensions surrounding the New Silk Road. It looks at how universities, while faced with challenges to their autonomy and values, stand firm to defend global cooperation. The book, which contains contributions from amongst others Utrecht University scholars Marijk van der Wende and Henk Kummeling, will be virtually launched on 5 November.

The global order, based on international governance and multilateral trade mechanisms, built in the aftermath of World War II, is changing rapidly. Notably Brexit and the retreat of the USA from multilateralism have created waves of uncertainty, not the least in the field of higher education, regarding international cooperation, the free movement of students, academics, scientific knowledge and ideas. Meanwhile, China is launching new global initiatives with its “New Silk Road”, is developing its higher education and research systems at speed, and is actively seeking to cooperate with academic partners along the New Silk Road.

It is unclear how these new relationships will affect European higher education and research; how this cooperation will contribute to addressing the global challenges we are all being faced with, and to the global common good.  How this emerging reality can conform with current Western views and growing criticism of China concerning the key values of an open society, the belief in fundamental human rights, dignity, and the rule of law. And how the growing tensions between US and Chinese trade and security agendas and neo-nationalist trends influence collaboration. How can universities tackle these and stand firm to defend internationalization, autonomy, and academic freedom?

Clearly, this is not a time to be silent. Therefore the ambition of this book is to be open to the various perspectives and controversies surrounding the NSR, to build understanding for both sides, and to strengthen hope for continued global collaboration. It aims to critically explore the possible implications of the NSR for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe, by looking at the main challenges and opportunities, including a consideration of the risks and uncertainties in the context of growing sensitivities in relationships between China and the West. On the 5th of November, these opportunities, controversies and tensions will be shared during the virtual book launch

To this end, it presents a rich collection of contributions from an international and interdisciplinary group of scholars from Europe, Asia (notably China), the USA, Russia, and Australia, who were engaged in a two-year dialogue under the research project on “The New Silk Road: Implications for higher education and research cooperation between China and Europe” coordinated by the Centre for Global Challenges. Multiple researchers from Utrecht University made contributions, resulting in a rich, multidisciplinary perspective. The book presents perspectives from higher education (Prof. dr. Marijk van der Wende), economics (Prof. dr. Charles van Marrewijk), law (Prof. dr. Henk KummelingProf. mr. dr. Sybe de VriesProf. mr. dr. A. Ton van den BrinkStijn van Deursen), humanities (Prof. dr. Marcus Düwell, Dasha Düring) and computer science (Prof. Lynda Hardman). 

Central questions regard how academic mobility and cooperation are taking shape along the New Silk Road, under which conditions, defined by whom, and based on which values? And what, if any, difference will the New Silk Road make in the global higher education landscape?

The global Covid pandemic makes these findings only more relevant; how will it impact the main trends and issues in collaboration between China and the West?  Which trends in academic cooperation with China will be sustained, enhanced, rebalanced, delayed, or even reversed? How will the EU position itself? And what is most at stake in the changing geopolitical order: international collaboration, competition, trust, open science, globalization as such? The emerging new global context provides abundant food for thought and a wealth of questions for further research. The editors remain convinced that such research should be undertaken in close collaboration between China and the West. During the book launch on the 5th of November, the editors will virtually elaborate on their findings.