Surviving a Crisis: Transformation, Adaptation, and Resistance in Higher Education
Volume: 3 Issue: 1, 1 - 15, 30.06.2022
After periods of crisis, it has been assumed that social institutions like higher education will also change radically – and perhaps even fail. In contrast to this expectation, this paper demonstrates that such moments of intense disruption result not only in transformation but are additionally accompanied by significant levels of adaptation and some resistance. Drawing from a larger study of the impact of crisis on higher education, this paper explores some of the ways that higher education responds to major political, economic, and social change at both system and organizational levels. Taking the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as the moment of crisis, the paper presents findings from a comparative case study of three ex-Soviet countries with new primary source data generated by interviews with experienced faculty members at the frontline of change. Understanding what it takes for higher education to survive a crisis makes an important contribution to comparative higher education studies by showing the variegated ways that higher education institutions and systems respond to crisis and to filling the gap in theory-driven explanations of system and organizational responses to major change.
Crisis, transformation, adaptation, resistance, change, continuity, new institutionalism, collapse of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
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