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Policy borrowing is a major topic in field of comparative education. On the surface the idea is relatively simple: one group of policy makers borrow the ideas of other policy makers to improve a system of education. This usually is described as borrowing “best practices.” But the work of many comparative education researchers has shown that who borrows what policy and for what reason is much more complex. We cannot, as Michael Sadler warned in 1900, assume a picked flower in one part of the world will blossom in soil at home.

Routledge book coverMy guest today, Rattanna Lao, dives head first into the debates on policy borrowing in her new book, A Critical Study of Thailand’s Higher Education Reforms: The Culture of Borrowing, which was published earlier this year by Routledge.

She argues that although the Thai state has always been an active borrower of western ideas, the perseverance of a ‘Thai-ness’ discourse has often been used to suggest its so-called independence and idiosyncrasy.

Rattana Lao received a doctorate in Comparative and International Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and is currently a lecturer at Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University in Thailand.

Today’s topic is space in educational research.

My guest is Marianne Larsen, an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario. Dr. Larsen’s recent research focuses on the overall processes and effects of the internationalization of higher education. She has been researching how internationalization policies are taken up ‘on-the-ground’, as well as the role of higher education leaders in advancing internationalization agendas.

Her most recent book, Internationalizing Higher Education: An Analysis through Spatial, Mobility and Network Theories builds upon her work to advance the use of new spatial and mobilities theories in comparative education research.

I spoke with Dr. Larsen in 2016 about how she and her colleague Jason Beech theorize the concept of educational space not as an object of study but as a set of relations between individuals and groups. Their articles on new spatial thinking can be found in the 2014 Spring issue of European Education and the May 2014 issue of Comparative Education Review.

[Updated and re-aired on July 30, 2018. Originally aired on July 21, 2016]