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...

Globalisation requires us to foster global citizens

Globalisation requires us to foster global citizens Patrick Blessinger and Enakshi Sengupta St. John's University (NYC), USA and American University of Kurdistan Education and lifelong learning hold the key to addressing many of the world’s problems. Of course, education alone is not a sufficient condition for resolving these problems, but it is a necessary one, for it is within the fertile soil of humanistic education, grounded in democratic principles and universal human rights, that the seeds of political, economic, social and technological development can take root and grow. Authentic humanistic education provides the catalyst for summoning forth the best about humans – their innate drive to learn and create, their capacity for empathy and compassion towards others and their remarkable ability to come together to put in place humane policies and rules by which to govern society and relations between nations.  In short, education and lifelong learning provide hope in...

The case for internationalisation of higher education

The case for internationalisation of higher education Patrick Blessinger and Barbara Cozza St. John's University (NYC), USA Not only has globalisation had a tremendous impact on the development of the world, but its impact on the internationalisation of higher education over the past few decades has been equally remarkable. Many different theories, perspectives and conceptions of globalisation exist to help explain its impact on political, economic and socio-cultural development at different levels. Although the history of globalisation is one of continual ebb and flow, the trajectory has been, nonetheless, a steady move towards greater interconnectedness and interdependence. It is difficult to predict what long-term effects the Great Recession (2008-10) and the current upswing of isolationist sentiments will have on international higher education in the coming years. Regardless, it is more important now than ever that students learn how to develop as global citizens. Given the uncertainty around globalisation’s impact on higher education, educational institutions are looking...

Reaching hard to reach students through student learning communities

Reaching hard to reach students through student learning communities Patrick Blessinger St John’s University, New York City Introduction A student learning community (SLC) is a curricular-based program and learning-centered social network that moves learning beyond the confines of the classroom. In a SLC, a cohort of students is enrolled in a common set of courses which they take together as a group. Most SLCs are tailored for first-year college students but SLCs may be created for any grade level. SLC courses are integrated and linked in some meaningful way in order to give students a common curricular experience and allow them to make more effective curricular connections across those courses. A core purpose of SLCs is to make learning more personally meaningful by addressing not just the intellectual needs of students but also their emotional and social needs. As such, the core aims of SLCs may provide an effective mechanism...

Inclusive higher education must cater for refugees

Inclusive higher education must cater for refugees Patrick Blessinger and Enakshi Sengupta St. John's University (NYC), USA and American University of Kurdistan   Every year on 20 June World Refugee Day is held to promote awareness of the plight of millions of refugees worldwide.  Currently, according to the UNHCR Population Statistics Database, more than 65 million people worldwide (roughly 1% of the world’s population) are displaced from their homes due to war, persecution, extreme violence, man-made disasters and similar factors. Of these displaced persons, about 20 million are classified as refugees, roughly the same number of people who were displaced worldwide as a result of World War II. Established in 1950, the UN Refugee Agency or UNHCR has become the world’s leading agency and programme responsible for the protection of refugees worldwide. In its capacity as the voice for refugees and other displaced persons, it leads international efforts to protect the rights of refugees and to...

A collective way for faculty to transform education

A collective way for faculty to transform education Patrick Blessinger, Barbara Cozza, and Milton Cox St. John's University (NYC), USA and Miami University, USA   A faculty learning community, or FLC, is a group of faculty members who share a common desire to improve teaching and learning outcomes. To this end, faculty meet on a regular basis (say once or twice a month) to collaborate and share their knowledge and practices on how to become better teachers and how to produce better learning outcomes for students. The FLC concept, pioneered by Milton Cox and Laurie Richlin, has evolved over the past few decades into a template for faculty-led groups to transform teaching and learning processes and practices. FLCs are grounded in the ideas of John Dewey and Alexander Meiklejohn, among others, who advocated for active, inquiry-based, student-focused teaching and learning. The FLC model is now used by many educational institutions around...

Transforming learning through student research

Transforming learning through student research Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association    The demand for higher education has grown considerably in recent decades. Over the past 20 years global higher education has grown at a rate of about 5% per year. This phenomenon, together with the emergence of open education and the diversification of higher education, has resulted in many countries now reaching universal access status.   Given the wide-ranging set of interconnected global problems – political, economic, social and ecological – facing societies today, greater importance is now placed on higher education and lifelong learning as catalysts for change to help address these problems. Thus, higher education and lifelong learning have become major factors in shaping the global knowledge society. Because of its increasingly important role in society as a knowledge producer, higher education itself has increasingly become the subject of its own research. For example, within schools...

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