Creating inclusive curricula in higher education Patrick Blessinger, Enakshi Sengupta and Mandla Makhanya St John’s University, USA, The HETL Association, USA and The University of South Africa The ongoing development, growth and stability of modern economic and democratic systems require that people engage in continual education and training throughout the course of their lives – that is, lifelong and lifewide learning. As a result of this contemporary reality, higher education systems around the world, including both formal and non-formal types of learning, have experienced unprecedented change in the past few decades in the areas of democratisation, internationalisation and treating lifelong learning as a human right. These changes have been driven by underlying factors such as social movements, economic forces, legal reforms, technological innovation and changing student needs and demographics. The changes have brought with them a renewed focus on inclusion and equity as paramount issues in the shifting paradigm of higher education. The increased attention to equity and inclusion have, in turn, led [...]
The demand for higher education of all types is at an all-time high. As the world becomes more integrated and interdependent through the processes of globalisation and internationalisation and more driven by and dependent on advanced knowledge, skills and competencies, lifelong learning has not only become a necessity for economic development and social progress, but it is now recognised as a human right.
Towards a more equal, inclusive higher education Patrick Blessinger, Jaimie Hoffman and Mandla Makhanya St John’s University (NYC), University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, University of South Africa Widening participation initiatives aim to improve access to higher education opportunities for all people. Driven by increased demand for education from all segments of society as well as legal reforms and human rights declarations, these initiatives focus on improving access for students from historically marginalised backgrounds (for example, ethnic minorities, students with disabilities and students from low-income backgrounds) to address inequities and inequalities in higher education. Thus, the heart of widening participation policies revolves around making access to education more fair and equal. To that end, equity and inclusion initiatives aim to address and redress longstanding practices of exclusion and privilege (typically along race, ethnicity, sex, gender and socio-economic class lines) which have tended to stratify society. Each society or institution of higher education is unique [...]
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 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 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 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 [...]