Commercial rankers seminar

HIEST Seminar April 7, 2022

Welcome to our third HIEST seminar of 2022 on Thursday, April 7, at 16:00 -18:00 (EET) / 9:00 - 11:00 (EST). The theme of this seminar is “The “LOOMING DISASTER” for Higher Education: How Commercial Rankers use Social Media to Amplify and Foster Affect”, by Riyad Shahjahan and Adam Grimm. 

The language of the seminar is English. For Zoom link, contact

Brief abstract

Despite the ubiquity of global university rankings coverage in media and academia, a concerted attempt to investigate the role of social media in ranking entrepreneurship remains absent. By drawing on an affect lens, we critically examine the social media activities of two commercial rankers: Times Higher Education (THE) and Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd (QS). Based on an analysis of THE’s Twitter feed and QS’ Facebook page between January to June 2020, we illuminate how rankers use social media for affective storytelling to frame and sell their expertise within global HE. Based on our observation of the front stage of rankers' social media activities, we argue that rankers’ deployment of social media as a form of affective infrastructure is conducive to further sustaining, diffusing and normalizing rankings in HE globally.

Presenter bios

Riyad A. Shahjahan is an Associate Professor of Higher, Adult and Life Long Education (HALE) at Michigan State University. He is also a core faculty member of Muslim Studies, Chicano/Latino Studies, Asian Studies, and Center for Advanced Study of International Development. His areas of research interests are in globalization of higher education, decolonizing curriculum/pedagogy, temporality, and cultural studies.

Adam T. Grimm is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the College of Education at Michigan State University. His work is tied to organizational change as well as globalization, policy, and mobility in higher education.