Higher education as social change: seeking a systemic institutional pedagogy of social change

Bivens, Felix M (2011) Higher education as social change: seeking a systemic institutional pedagogy of social change. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

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This thesis explores the institutional development of social engagement (SE) programmes within higher education institutions (HEIs). Since the 1990s, universities in the United States and Canada have become increasingly active in directly addressing social issues such as poverty, social exclusion and political participation in their own local communities. The past decade has seen similar developments at universities in the United Kingdom. At the global level as well, there are increasing discussions about the role and responsibilities of HEIs in human and social development. To facilitate their engagement with wider social issues, HEIs frequently create SE programmes which coordinate activities between university-based actors and community-partners.

A significant body of literature exists on SE programmes; however, these writings fall into two categories: firstly, promoting the concept of university engagement and, secondly, evaluating the impacts of such programmes on communities or students. What is far less theorised or researched are the intermediary processes which enable the social engagement aspirations of HEIs to come to fruition, generating these documented impacts. This study aims to produce new knowledge and insights on how university SE programmes are created and institutionalised over time.

This research is a qualitative study of SE programmes at three HEIs, two in the UK and one in the US. The data for the study has been drawn from primary programme documents, participatory workshops and interviews with more than one-hundred staff, academics, students and community-partners involved with these programmes.

The research suggests that, despite differences in size, mission and national context, there are common enabling factors which lead to the creation of these programmes and which facilitate their successful institutionalisation within their respective institutions. Moreover, the research also suggests that the presence of these programmes catalyses unexpected outcomes within the HEIs themselves, such as changes in the formal curriculum as well as changes in the overall learning culture of the institutions where these SE programmes were located. Considered together, these findings suggest that the presence of these programmes contributes to the development of a systemic ―institutional pedagogy‖ which encourages students, staff and academics to engage with important social and developmental issues in their local communities, and often more widely as well

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Subjects: L Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher education
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 22 Jun 2011 10:00
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2015 14:24
URI: http://srodev.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/6942
Google Scholar:5 Citations

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