What are the civic responsibilities of universities in a democratic society? Since the emergence of the modern university system in the nineteenth century, financial support and a degree of academic freedom have been bestowed on universities but what should society expect back from these places of specialised and, often, elite learning? These are perennial questions, yet answers have been very different under different political and economic circumstances. Originally, the emphasis was on the production of knowledge in settings that were ‘antifunctionalist as well as antiutilitarian’ (Sahlins 2009: 1000); subsequently the wider knowledgeability of students was incorporated as the way the debt to society would be repaid (Nowotny, Scott and Gibbons 2001: 80). In recent years, the making of citizens or, rather, the making of better citizens has come to the fore as an essential output in exchange for society’s input. As part of their ‘service’ to society at large, universities will, amongst other things, produce people who will take their place as members of society with a strong sense of rights that will be asserted and responsibilities that will be exercised.
Citizenship, craft and the making of Mode Two citizens?
Educating today's democratic citizen
Jeffrey L. Bernstein
What are we in higher education to make of the recent calls for citizenship education to play a larger role in the academy? As Matt Hartley’s paper in this issue of Learning and Teaching suggests, colleges and universities in the United States have been paying increased attention to educating for citizenship in recent decades; Bob Simpson’s concluding commentary makes similar arguments about increased expectations for citizenship education in Europe. As our institutions of higher learning confront economic pressures, increased competition (including from for-profit entities) and calls for accountability through meaningful assessments of student learning, they will also face increased pressure to graduate not just educated individuals, but also individuals who are connected, as citizens, to the local, national and transnational world in which they live.
Learning for citizenship online
How can students develop intercultural awareness and construct knowledge together?
Hugh Starkey and Nicola Savvides
This article evaluates ways in which students on an online Master's programme are learning about citizenship and developing intercultural awareness in spite of the lack of face-to-face interaction. There is still debate about the effectiveness of online courses and whether they provide an adequate substitute for, or even an improvement on, classroom-based learning. We employ qualitative research methods and deploy instruments for analysing constructivist learning to evaluate the extent to which students are constructing knowledge through online discussions as well as learning from research-led teaching materials. We also analyse online discussions for evidence of social presence, including the interventions of the course tutor. We conclude that students do feel themselves to be members of an international learning community and that their interactions can promote higher-order learning. We draw attention to some advantages of online courses such as the possibility of crafting a contribution and the availability of discussions as a resource.
Reclaiming the democratic purposes of American higher education
Tracing the trajectory of the civic engagement movement
American colleges and universities have historically sought to promote an enlightened citizenry. In the early 1980s many felt that this civic purpose was in danger of being lost. What unfolded was a widespread educational reform movement aimed at reasserting the public and democratic purpose of American higher education. This article traces the trajectory of this movement and notes a significant emergent tension among movement members - the question of whether to seek broad-based legitimacy within the academy by aligning the efforts with disciplinary norms or to challenge the status quo and attempt to transform higher education and align its efforts with the pressing needs of America's democracy.
Teaching for a strong, deliberative democracy
Nancy L. Thomas
Across the U.S.A, everyday citizens, civic leaders, policy makers, and educators are experimenting with inclusive, deliberative approaches to addressing social, economic, and political issues. Some academics and civic leaders describe this renewal in citizen engagement as a movement, a significant, transformative shift in the way we interact with each other to solve public problems, strengthen communities and 'do' democracy. Colleges and universities need to take stock of the movement towards a more deliberative democracy and adapt their programmes and activities to fit what democratic societies need today. Many campuses already offer programmes in inclusive dialogue, deliberative public reasoning, justice and other Constitutional values, democratic leadership and conflict management. Many faculty members use democratic teaching methods. These can serve as helpful models. For all colleges and universities, the challenge is to get to scale, to teach all students - not just a few in particular disciplines or co-curricular activities - to serve as effective citizens in an increasingly diverse, deliberative democracy.
What History is good for
Service-learning and studying the past
Many disciplines in the social sciences and humanities can offer profound insights into what it means to be human. History, however, encompasses the totality of human experience: economics, politics, philosophy, art, ethics, sociology, science - all of it becomes part of history eventually. Therefore, the opportunities for incorporating service-learning (carefully integrating community service with academic inquiry and reflecting on insights derived from such integration) into history courses abound. Many historians have taken advantage of this opportunity. Few historians have undertaken a scholarly investigation of the learning taking place in their service-learning courses, however. Indeed, despite the fact that the reflective process so central to service-learning lends itself remarkably well to the scholarship of teaching and learning (it generates very rich data on both the affective and content-based learning students are experiencing), there has been little published SoTL research from any discipline about service-learning. Drawing on qualitative evidence from an honours course comprised of 16 students at a private liberal arts college in the northeastern United States, I argue that not only does service-learning in history lead to more active citizenship, but that it also leads to deeper appreciation of an historical perspective as a key ingredient for being an engaged citizen.
Dumbing down or beefing up the curriculum? Integrating an 'academic skills framework' into a first year sociology programme
Mike Keating, Cathal O'Siochru, and Sal Watt
This article describes a C-SAP-funded project evaluating the introduction of a new tutorial programme for first year Sociology students, which sought to integrate a 'skills framework' to enable students to develop a range of academic skills alongside their study of the subject.
The pegagogical and institutional background to the decision to adopt this 'integrated' approach is summarised and the staff and student experiences are then evaluated using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Primarily concerned with evaluating staff and student responses to the new programme, this paper also raises some issues with regard to the methodologies of evaluation.
Engaging students in applied research: experiences from collaborative research and learning in Brazil and Paraguay
Marcela Vásquez-León, Brian Burke, and Lucero Radonic
A critical interest of applied anthropology is to educate students to be theoretically grounded and capable of assuming a level of social responsibility that extends beyond academia. In this paper, we reflect on the issue of student preparation for work in the policy arena by focusing on the experiences of a five-year applied research project that examines agricultural cooperatives as situated agents of change and grassroots development. The project has completed three field seasons in Brazil and Paraguay in which student researchers, including anthropology graduate students from the University of Arizona and in-country undergraduate students from partner universities, have been an integral part. The paper focuses on strategies developed in the research process that enhance student learning. Community Based Research, learning to work through research teams, and creating community-university partnerships constitute the bases of a project that emphasises student learning in the process of doing research and forming collaborations.
The evolution of government policy towards English higher education 1979-2007
Using statistics, documentary evidence and commentary from academics and academic trades unions, this article analyses
the key features of U.K. government policy towards higher
education in England since 1979. The focus is on England
because the details of policy and policy implementation vary
between the four nations of the U.K. My findings support the view that, over the whole period, successive governments established increasing central control over the higher education system and mobilised it to meet goals compatible with government interpretations of the national interest. In the process, the total number of
students in U.K. higher education has trebled, the average cost of a
student place has almost halved and the proportion of income from
public funds has fallen to 55% (Universities UK 2007).
Students educating students: insights from organising an international, interdisciplinary conference on surveillance and policing
Maria-Amelia Viteri and Aaron Tobler
This article illustrates the multiple ways in which anthropology graduate students crossed the boundaries of educational discourses by encouraging themselves, other students, activists and community leaders to speak in dialogical contexts (Giroux 2005: 73). They did this through the organisation of the Interrogating Diversity Conference. The authors organised this conference in March 2007 at the American University, Washington, DC, to expand scholarship on surveillance and policing in an egalitarian forum. We discuss how students can engage their departments and faculty in building the students' knowledge of both anthropological theories and methodology through shared scholarship. We show how students can 'apply' anthropology to audiences, which will in turn influence policy decision making. In addition, the authors explore how academics can transform knowledge sharing into tools that shape broader political and social dialogue.