Placing a New University Model Within the Discourse of Higher Education

Placing a New University Model Within the Discourse of Higher Education

Mary S. Runte (University of Lethbridge, Canada) and Robert Runte (University of Lethbridge, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6255-9.ch002

Abstract

A historical analysis of the discourse of the purpose of higher education provides a typology of four distinct discourses which reflect the social, political, and economic context within which the changing rationale for funding universities has been defined. By analyzing where a technology-driven, international university could be located in the interstices of these competing discourses, the typology can assist educational leaders, administrators, and policymakers to more readily identify key obstacles to be overcome, opportunities that could be developed, and the latent dysfunctions that need to be anticipated to avoid both collateral damage and the resulting determined pushback. Forewarned is forearmed, and understanding which aspects of which discourses lend support or undermine such a project could greatly assist proponents in seeking support and avoiding missteps.
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Historical Analysis Of Four Discourses Of Higher Education

A historical overview charting shifts in the debate over the appropriate goals of higher education is necessary to understand both what those competing arguments are and why different rationales came to dominate at different points in history. As the saying goes, those who do not understand the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them, so it is important to avoid adopting an obsolete discourse to which relevant stakeholders have already developed counter arguments, or which are logically incompatible with one’s vision, if there are other discourses more clearly aligned with one’s own purposes. Higher education is subject to intermittent waves of reform (Forstenzer, 2017), not all of which have worked out as planned, so understanding the history of these debates is a necessary first step in deciding the way forward.

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