As it happens in other spheres, the development of globalization processes has had effects on the social representation of science, research and higher education. The development of new technologies, the reduction of the transportation costs, the use of electronic and virtual technologies for students’ initial and permanent educational training, and the reinforcement of economic blocks are some of the factors that have contributed evidently to the increasing internationalization of science and academia.
Along the past decades, scientific and academic mobility has been considered important elements contributing to countries’ development. In a moment in which economic growth is increasingly more related to knowledge and innovation capacities, States and economic blocks have cooperated or, in other cases, competed, to promote join research projects and to run specific programs concerning the incorporation of human resources highly skilled from abroad to the national scientific and academic labour markets. In addition, these actors have implemented internationalization initiatives, programs to follow up scientific diasporas and to strengthen networks.
Universities, laboratories and research centres and their representatives, have put into practice strategies to respond properly to this context: signed international cooperation agreement to develop join degrees, promoted teaching and students international mobility programme, offered scholarships to attract foreign scholars and funded multinational research programs, among others. These activities have promoted the international circulation and transfer of technologies, however, they have also reinforced existing development biases and hierarchies resulting from power inequalities among the involved actors’ statuses as donors and recipients.
At the same time, at the micro level, scientists, students and scholars have worked towards the internationalization of their career path. In doing so, they have taken part in exchange programme with foreigner institutions, joined networks or macro researcher projects, published in indexed international journals and participated more often in international events and conferences. In spite the fact that researchers’ mobility routes and the circuits of knowledge transfer flows were established on the basis of given particular histories of the countries involved, and according to the scheme North-North, South-North, since the last decade, new cooperation routes have been opened based on a perspective of solidarity, creating pragmatics and strategic exchange programs based on a South-South or triangular logic.
This diversification, although localized, highlights the importance of analysing the geostrategic choices of the internationalization of science and education, considering its conventional and innovative perspectives.
We departure from the idea that scientific and international cooperation is a phenomenon that spreads in different dimensions and involves a number of actors, thus it has a high level of complexity and ought to be analysed from different economic, political, social and cultural perspectives.