Towards higher education in service of humanity

Towards higher education in service of humanity Patrick Blessinger and Mandla Makhanya St. John's University (NYC), USA and University of South Africa The growing importance of education at all levels and the inclusion of more stakeholders in the educational enterprise has sparked debate about the fundamental nature and purpose of higher education (that is, what type of good is education?). Traditionally, viewed from an economic perspective, higher education has been treated largely as a public good. Since the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948, this public good view has been reinforced by the view that education is also a human right. These factors, together with the increased demand for higher education to meet the economic development needs of the post-World War II economies, resulted in a huge increase in government support for higher education. This factor further solidified the notion of higher education as a public good. However,...

Inclusive higher education for the benefit of all

Inclusive higher education for the benefit of all Patrick Blessinger, Jaimie Hoffman and Mandla Makhanya St John’s University (NYC), University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, University of South Africa Broadly defined, institutions of higher education are social structures that fulfil a common social purpose of creating an educated citizenry. They achieve this through policies, rules, customs, symbols and traditions. As such, institutions exemplify structures for social order, creating the norms and expectations for human behaviour.  As such, educational institutions have an implicit social responsibility to ensure that these practices work for the benefit of all students. Throughout the nearly one thousand-year history of higher education, higher education institutions, or HEIs, have demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of continual political, social, economic and technological change.  HEIs have remained remarkably stable in their missions, structures and practices over the past millennium, even in the face of revolutions, innovations and other forms of...

Why higher education must be more inclusive

Why higher education must be more inclusive Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   The Cyrus Cylinder is widely considered to be the world’s first charter of human rights. Created in 539 BC by Cyrus the Great, King of Persia, it declared religious tolerance for all.  In addition, the modern human rights movement can be traced to two key political revolutions in the late 18th century: the American Revolution and the French Revolution. The two key documents to emerge from these revolutions were the US Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. Both documents emphasised political and civil rights. The rights codified in these documents were not, however, initially extended to all people in those nations, most notably women and minorities. For instance, it took a civil war in the United States, and other national movements, to extend basic constitutional rights...

Creating a culture of inclusion in higher education

Creating a culture of inclusion in higher education  Patrick Blessinger  St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   The increasing emphasis on inclusion and diversity in higher education around the world is due partly to the globalisation-internationalisation cycle (for instance, increased international immigration flows and increased global interdependencies), partly to the ongoing democratisation of higher education (for instance, increased pressure for equality-equity in all aspects of education) and partly to the emergence of lifelong learning as a human right. Within this context of intertwined factors, higher education systems around the world have now started to move beyond widening participation agendas (even though these are very important) and towards total inclusion agendas that are focused on the transformation of institutional cultures. In the forthcoming book, Inclusive Leadership in Higher Education, Lorraine Stefani and I, along with several educational scholars from around the world, examine and explain this emerging phenomenon. A paradigm shift towards inclusivity In addition to globalisation, democratisation...

Higher education as a multi-purpose enterprise

Higher education as a multi-purpose enterprise Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association Globalisation is a socio-politico-economic phenomenon that, some would argue, has eclipsed post-modernism and post-structuralism as a framework for explaining the development of the modern world over the past several decades. Whereas post-structuralism stresses the instability and complexity of human relations within a historical interpretive framework, the closely related framework of post-modernism stresses the uncertainty and subjectivity associated with interpreting social reality. Globalisation, with its emphasis on increased integration, interaction and connectivity, also provides a plausible framework for explaining the development of global higher education. Globalisation’s impact on the world A nation is a socio-cultural construct and a state is a geo-political construct. Thus, a nation-state is formed when these two constructs overlap. As such, a nation-state can be viewed as a country consisting of a largely homogenous culture under a single government, that is, a state...

Afghan students face integrational issues in universities

Afghan students face integrational issues in universities Enakshi Sengupta American University of Kurdistan, Kurdistan, Northern Iraq “We carry our bag full of books and they think we have bombs with us”. “If we wear a hijab (head scarf) they think we are different from them and will not understand their jokes.” “Why do I have to take the initiative of befriending them, why do I need to be nice to them or smile at them?”(Student A, from the Qualitative study). Afghanistan’s nation-wide literacy rate has seen a country wide growth since the year 2008. The youth literacy rates has increased by more than 16% and at present more than 8 million students are enrolled in schools, including more than 2.5 million girls. In 2013, one million Afghan learners are enrolled in schools with the assistance received from USAID. (http://www.usaid.gov/afghanistan/education). With the world opening its doors to Afghan students it is...

Towards an inclusive global knowledge society

Towards an inclusive global knowledge society Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association The second half of the 20th century was characterised as a period of enormous expansion of higher education worldwide, especially through opening access by removing long-standing ethnic, gender and class barriers. As a result, the first half of the 21st century of higher education will most likely be characterised by its remarkable heterogeneity in terms of student diversity and institutional diversification. Higher education today reflects a system that has not only emerged into a more democratised system but also into a global power system. Core issues in democratisation The principles of democratisation impact on every part of higher education at both the macro and micro levels – not just access issues but also governance, management, policies, structures, processes and other core functions of higher education. The process of democratisation has led to a diversification of institutional...

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