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...

Strengthening democracy through open education

Strengthening democracy through open education Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   Open education is the policy and practice of broadening access to allow greater participation in lifelong learning and tertiary education. It is based on the principle that everyone has a right to benefit from educational resources. The term 'open' is a term that implies the reduction or elimination of barriers (cost, distance, access) that allows for greater participation in high-quality educational processes, and ideally, the re-use and re-purposing of educational resources. Thus, the two main criteria of open education are that they are open and free. TJ Bliss and I, together with several educational scholars from around the world, examine these and other issues in the book, Open Education: International perspectives in higher education. Democratising knowledge In the modern era, the Printing Revolution marked the first major step towards democratising knowledge and enabling mass learning....

Transforming higher education’s creative capacity

Transforming higher education’s creative capacity Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   It has been nearly 20 years since UNESCO issued its World Declaration on Higher Education for the Twenty-First Century. Since its publication, global higher education has undergone dramatic change and global higher education enrolments have increased at a rate of about 5% per year. Today, higher education is in the midst of an academic revolution and many countries have now reached universal access status. The World Declaration on Higher Education promotes several important principles regarding creativity in higher education: Creativity should be used to integrate local/indigenous knowledge with advanced scientific knowledge, Curricula, teaching-learning and research should be organised in such a way as to continually foster creative thinking at every grade level, and Creative thinking and critical thinking should enhance and complement each other. Why creativity is important In the book, Creative Learning in Higher...

Revolutionising the global knowledge society

Revolutionising the global knowledge society Patrick Blessinger St. John's University (NYC) and International HETL Association   A revolution can be defined as a fundamental change to the status quo that occurs in a relatively short timeframe. Revolutions of all types (political, economic, social, technological) have occurred numerous times throughout human history. Although the seeds of revolutions are usually planted over many years, they typically do not reach full fruition until triggered by a momentous innovation, event or other actions. Historical analysis shows that revolutions serve as major catalysts for change. In other words, revolutions upset the established order. Some revolutions were particularly important (and necessary) for the continued development of mass learning and universal education. This phenomenon is analysed and explained in more depth in the book, Democratizing Higher Education. Emergence of mass learning In the modern era (1450 CE to the present day) the Printing Revolution – triggered by the...

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...

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