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Neda Maghbouleh, Clayton Childress, and Carlos Alamo-Pastrana

Marx's critique of capitalism remains foundational to the university social science curriculum yet little is known about how instructors teach Marx. In post-industrial, service-oriented economies, students are also increasingly disconnected from the conditions of industrial capitalism that animate Marx's analysis. Inspired by the discussion of how a piece of wood becomes a table in Marx's Capital Vol. 1., 'Our Table Factory, Inc.' simulates a diverse array of roles in the chain of production into and out of a table factory to understand key concepts: means/mode of production, use/exchange value, primitive accumulation wage/surplus labour, proletariat, bourgeoisie, alienation, false consciousness, commodity fetishism and communist revolution. We describe the exercise and present qualitative and quantitative assessment data from introductory sociology undergraduates across three small teaching-intensive universities in the United States. Findings detail the exercise's efficacy in fostering retention of material and in facilitating critical engagement with issues of inequality.

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Sheila Trahar

Transnational higher education (TNHE) is a term used for a range of international activities but most commonly it describes programmes where students are located in a different country from the degree-awarding institution. Partnership models include distance learning, dual degrees, franchising and ‘flying faculty’, where academics from the degree-awarding institution fly to another country to teach a programme there. TNHE partnerships are established between institutions for several reasons, not least because of the increase in marketisation of higher education together with the reduction in public funding in many contexts. Interrogating how ‘commercial imperatives nest with academic integrity’ (Sidhu and Christie 2014: 2) is important as many TNHE partnerships are established between ‘Northern’ universities, in particular from Anglo-Celtic countries such as Australia, the U.K. and the U.S.A., and those from the ‘South’ or the ‘East’. Care needs to be taken, therefore, in exercising academic integrity in learning, teaching and assessment in contexts with different academic traditions from those of the degree-awarding institution.

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Imagining oneself

Narrative evaluations of the professional identities of learners in a transnational higher-educational setting

Kevin Haines

This article uses a narrative approach to investigate the learning experiences of third-year medical students in a transnational higher educational setting, specifically during an elective period abroad. The students evaluate their learning experiences in an unfamiliar environment both in relation to previous learning and in relation to their possible or imagined future professional identities. Through this process, these students demonstrate how learning may take place through participation outside or alongside the formal curriculum, in the informal and the hidden curriculum (Leask and Bridge 2013). These narrative evaluations represent a reflective resource for the learners and their peers. They may also provide other stakeholders in transnational higher educational settings, including teachers, programme coordinators, educational managers and policy-makers, with an understanding of the experiences of mobile students in the informal curriculum.

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Sheila Trahar

Transnational higher education is the term that is most commonly used to describe programmes that allow students to obtain a degree from an overseas university in their local context. Such programmes are often marketed on their similarity with those offered at home by the overseas university. Perhaps as a consequence, the related literature focuses on 'problems' that are encountered in the 'other' environment, particularly when academic staff travel to the host country to deliver the teaching. Transnational programmes, however, offer rich opportunities for developing cultural capability in students and academics through a sensitively internationalised curriculum. This article uses an autoethnographic approach to discuss teaching and learning in transnational programmes that are delivered in a postcolonial context (Hong Kong) by a university that is in the former colonising country (U.K.). Its aim is to illustrate how, by embracing the complexities, transnational higher education programmes can enrich learning and teaching in both the host and the home context.

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Dione Mifsud

This article explores the decision by two universities, the University of Malta and the University of Maryland, College Park, U.S.A., to create a dual master's degree in transcultural counselling. The difficulties encountered by the two universities in creating a harmonised system encompassing tuition, assessment, accreditation and regulatory procedures will be discussed, as well as the complexities of learning and teaching and the opportunities for intercultural learning. The article explores the experiences of the students and academics as they grapple with two different philosophical and academic systems, but also with their own personal and professional differences as narrated, composed and received in their different contexts – interactional, historical, institutional and discursive. Through the narratives of the research participants a powerful tool for course evaluation was created.

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Understanding the transnational higher education landscape

Shifting positionality and the complexities of partnership

Viv Caruana and Catherine Montgomery

This article presents a comprehensive review of research on transnational higher education published between 2006 and 2014. It aims to provide an overview of a highly complex field that is both nascent and shifting, with research developing unevenly and concentrated in particular areas. This overview will enable academics working in transnational higher education to place their practice in the wider context of socio-political and cultural discourses. The review adopts the concept of positionality, which defines individuals and/or groups not in terms of fixed identities but by their shifting location within networks of relationships as a means of understanding the changing landscape.

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Ravinder Sidhu

This article uses postcolonial scholarship to understand the knowledge and cultural politics that underpin Australian-provided transnational higher education (TNHE) programmes in Singapore and Malaysia. A case is made for TNHE practices to develop an 'engaged pedagogy' and 'ethics of care' as it relates to transnational students in postcolonial spaces. Through this, the article seeks to respond to broader criticisms directed at international education's limited engagement with equity and social justice.

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David Mills and Julia Paulson

Recent research on doctoral education in the U.K. has revealed the increasing number and diversity of academic relationships that shape the lives of research students, and students' own role in activating, mobilising and maintaining these relationships. Higher education policy reforms promoting doctoral 'skills training', interdisciplinary communities, thematic centres and supervisory teams, all create new networks for students to negotiate. Often beneficial and supportive, this article explores the 'unmentionable' consequences of relationships that gradually go awry.

This study began as a project exploring the everyday experiences of doctoral students and early career researchers in the Social Sciences within the U.K. As the research unfolded, we began to encounter accounts of neglect, exploitation and denigration. While such stories have long been part of postgraduate life, their seeming persistence in the face of robust quality assurance and supervisory codes needs further exploration. We offer three portraits of difficult doctoral journeys to explore these 'unmentionable' experiences and explore whether they are linked to growing institutional and career pressures on academics to prioritise research 'productivity'.

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Ellen Bal, Erella Grassiani, and Kate Kirk

This article is based on our own experiences and that of several of our colleagues teaching social and cultural anthropology in different Dutch institutions for higher learning. We focus in particular on teaching and learning in two small liberal arts and science (LAS) colleges, where anthropology makes up part of the social science curriculum and/or is part of the core curriculum. The data collected from our own critical reflections developed during informal discussion and from formal interviews with colleagues, together with literature on recent changes in academia, leads us to argue that neoliberal individualism, shaped by management tactics that constantly measure individual performance and output, is making academia an increasingly insecure place in which to work and study. The consequences of this insecurity include increasing mental health problems among both students and staff, intensifying competition at the expense of collegiality and collaboration and an overall decrease in the quality of academic jobs and teaching. Although the discipline of anthropology can help us better understand our own conditions, the personalisation of problems and the focus on success obscure the anthropological lens, which looks at social and cultural structures of power and depends on critical reflexivity.

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Jakob Krause-Jensen and Christina Garsten

Over the past decades, higher education has been profoundly restructured across the world. With remarkable consistency educational reforms have been put forward that rest on a particular and similar rationale: to achieve global competitiveness and adapt to the advent of the so-called ‘knowledge economy’. The ramifications for universities have been dramatic: institutions have changed, roles of students and university employees have been re-defined and the concept of knowledge itself altered.