Challenges of citizenship in higher education: shifting visions, roles and outcomes « Back
There is nothing wrong with universities serving the idea of the knowledge society; however, the production, transmission and dissemination of high quality knowledge are simply not enough for the well-being of a democratic society. The fact that knowledge has become an economic asset in its own right and higher education a commodity in the global educational market may therefore overshadow some other equally vital functions of the university that may in fact prove even more important at a time when the neoliberal agenda is on the rise. In order to map the full complexity of citizenship education in the university in contemporary democratic society we prepared five insights into issues with an important impact on citizenship. The first and most straightforward is the examination of the whole range of forms of citizenship education, types of curriculum and types of learning where we pay special attention to the models of curriculums which recur in the history of education and are based on their differences in sets of aims, ambitions and pedagogic styles. The second angle from which we examine higher education and its impact on citizenship encompasses changes occurring in the academic profession. Here, we deliberate on their weakening ability to set the higher education curriculum; however, we primarily focus on a definition of academic workers and the contextual changes exerting the biggest impact on their work. The third angle explores the entire discourse on employability where we identify theoretical and policy debates on the strategic orientation of the societal role of higher education developments in Europe via two approaches: the human capital and manpower approach. The final angle from which we explore citizenship in higher education involves higher education graduates’ beliefs about what constitutes a good citizen and actions related to political activism where we attempt to establish potential differences in beliefs and actions by comparing graduates to the population without a higher education degree and try to locate the differences we identify according to conceptions of a good citizen emerging from three broad citizenship traditions – liberalism, civic republicanism and communitarianism. We conclude the volume by discussing the main findings and proposing a simple, moderate and down-to-earth programme for achieving a critical citizenry in a society under stress and in a bewildered state of mind.