This session has been changed from ‘workshop’ to ‘presentation’, at organizers’ request. We intend to share /continue discussion via the EADI Convivial Thinking platform.
The role of higher education in sustainable development has been downplayed, despite arguments for its key role in economic growth (Bloom, et al., 2006), fostering developmental leadership, serving the public good and developing human capabilities that are broadly progressive (Walker & McLean, 2013; Mendis, 2014; Jones, et al., 2014). African and Irish universities suffered from significant stagnation and deterioration during the economic crises of the 1980s. Since then, HE institutions and enrolment have expanded and massified, however research concerning the role of HE has not been commensurate with its importance in a global knowledge society, especially in the African context (Sawyerr, 2004), while Irish HEIs are ill-prepared to vindicate the Section 4.2 Public Sector Duty to uphold Equality and Human Rights (Khoo forthcoming 2019). The mass expansion of HE raises critical questions about access, equity, quality, relevance, and sustainability. HE systems are challenged by the diversification of student types, proliferation of new types of HEIs and new knowledge demands. As new challenges of have arisen, so have new forms of social exclusion, aggravating a sense of confusion about the fundamental mission and public purpose of HE (Sawyerr, 2004; Dale, 2000; Khoo, 2017). The state-of-the art relating core aspects of HE practice such as curriculum and pedagogies to inequities and questions of societal transformation have been surprisingly sparse in recent decades (Barnett & Coate, 2005; Walker, 2005; Khoo, 2017), but more recently becoming sites of strong contestation and potential promise (Prinsloo, 2016).
This panel proposal reflects Phase One of the IRC-COALESCE project: “B-CAUSE: Building Collaborative Approaches to University Strategies against Exclusion in Ireland and Africa: pedagogies for quality Higher Education and inclusive global citizenship”. Paul Prinsloo and Su-ming Khoo are the co-PIs, representing NUIG and UNISA– currently the proposal is under evaluation for funding.
Mindful of the concerted widening of divides between disciplines and domains of practice, research and teaching, the B-CAUSE project takes a holistic and multi-sided approach to HE in practice. The starting point for the B-CAUSE project is a dual concern to examine i) the general challenge concerning knowledge and the developmental role of HE, and ii) to address salient horizontal inequalities in a word of widening inequalities and hardening social divisions. This dual concern drives our intention to redefine and express an inclusive and unbounded concept of ‘quality’ in HE. This panel seeks to explore the parameters of a basic theoretical and conceptual framework for understanding bounded inequity in higher education, for potentially ‘unthinking’ this boundedness and potentially rethinking the meaning of ‘quality’ in HE. A major challenge to be addressed is that perceptions and understandings of inequalities and ‘equity’ (a nuanced consideration of fairness and justice that does not reduce all players to an expectation of sameness) as well as ‘quality’ and ‘purpose’ look different in different locations and to different stakeholders.
Authors SMK and PP will present the rationale and theoretical framework for problematizing and understanding bounded inequalities in HE, the groundwork for the proposed B-CAUSE project. We will connect to the conversations within the Convivial Thinking- EADI collective to explore and potentials for unbounding and unbinding equity in the context of South African and Irish higher education curriculum experiments.
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Barnett, R. & Coate, K., 2005. Engaging the curriculum in higher education. Maidenhead: Open University Press/ Society for Research in Higher Education.
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Connell, R., 2016. Decolonising Knowledge, Democratising Curriculum, Johannesburg: University of Johannesburg discussions on Decolonisation of Knowledge, March 2016.
Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Sabelo. 2018. Epistemic Freedom in Africa. London: Routledge.
Young, Iris Marion. 1990. Justice and the Politics of Difference. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.