Quality Assurance for a Developmental “Global Studies” (GS) Curriculum

Quality Assurance for a Developmental “Global Studies” (GS) Curriculum

Gilbert Ahamer (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0024-7.ch007
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This chapter focuses on quality assurance (QA) for cutting-edge transdisciplinary university curricula. As a case study, it analyzes the developmental, internationally- and peace-oriented “Global Studies” (GS) curriculum at Graz University, Austria. Based on an extensive literature review on concepts of quality for curricula, key concepts for transdisciplinarity and approaches for quality monitoring are provided. This analysis finds and emphasizes that QA criteria are highly dependent on the stakeholders' perspective; notably on the perspectives of lecturers, students, university administration, and external auditors. Based on several practical sets of such stakeholder-dependent QA criteria, quality in the Graz-based GS curriculum is assessed thoroughly. Detailed recommendations for quality enhancement are provided by students, lecturers and external auditors with a focus on: transdisciplinarity; relevance to practice; maintaining existing levels of academic requirements; and especially sound, sufficient and sustained funding by the university administration.
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“Climate change and shortage of resources, hunger and mass poverty, terror and violence represent manifold unresolved global problems and challenges” (GS, 2010, 2012). “As a sound answer to these challenges on an educational and cultural level, many universities have increased their efforts by studying such problems as globalization and structural peace” (Bader et al., 2013a). Developmental curricula are hence a first priority for cutting-edge universities.

For such and similar endeavors in tertiary education, quality management and value management are sensible and useful approaches in evaluating curricula, especially given the unpredictable evolution of a workplace throughout the learners’ professional lives. Today, higher education providers face a world-wide environment full of competitors all explaining, interpreting and managing global change in the cultural, political, economic, technical and environmental fields (Nuninger & Chatelet, 2016).

Curricula developers are therefore urged to satisfy Quality Assurance (QA) criteria to maintain and further improve the profile of delivered results. The main criteria include the following (Nuninger & Chatelet, 2016):

  • 1.

    Adequacy of training offer and its design to societal needs,

  • 2.

    Accessibility of training at all ages and for everyone at any time with adapted pedagogy devices that are convenient to the public,

  • 3.

    Efficiency of the training realization,

  • 4.

    A high level of trainer skill throughout the training process, but also operational performance triangle

    • a.


    • b.

      Results, and

    • c.


  • 5.

    Welfare at work and security,

  • 6.

    Efficiency of the organization and

  • 7.

    Added value with respect to shareholders and stakeholders (including partners with companies, financial organizations and the skilled workforce; teachers, trainers, tutors and researchers).

To the author’s understanding, these criteria provide opportunities to perceive assets in a new, international, transdisciplinary and professional light; most specifically in quality management (QM) in modern, transdisciplinary, development-oriented, peace-oriented, cooperative curricula of Global Studies (Ahamer, 2014d, p. 250). Some sub-criteria of the above general criteria by which GS could suitably be assessed include:

  • 1.


  • 2.

    Student satisfaction,

  • 3.

    Training and learning,

  • 4.

    Skills and assessment,

  • 5.

    Curriculum appropriateness,

  • 6.

    Leading talents and

  • 7.

    Sustainability in a global world (Nuninger & Chatelet, 2016).

In order to make such quality criteria operational, appropriate stakeholders with a role in assessing such quality for a GS curriculum are suggested in Figure 1: lecturers, students, university administration and external auditors.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Interdisciplinary: Approaches combine understandings, models and views from different scientific disciplines.

Interparadigmatic: Approaches combine interdisciplinary and intercultural approaches; hence they respect both understandings stemming from different scientific disciplines and understandings from different cultural entrenchments.

Intercultural: Approaches combine different understandings resulting from the actors’ entrenchment in different cultures and their adoption of differing values.

Graz University: Is Austria’s second-oldest (since 1585) and second-largest (over 30,000 students) university in its second largest city of Graz (260,000 inhabitants) offering almost all important curricula in its six faculties. The latest innovation of this public generalist university is the interdisciplinary, intercultural, interparadigmatic and interfaculty Master’s curriculum “Global Studies”, operating since 2010.

Global Studies: Are developmental university curricula dealing with globalization, international equity and respectful development.

Curriculum Assessment: Means the quality assessment of university curricula regarding the quality criteria set out in literature and in this chapter.

Global Change: Is seen here as the long-term change in global patterns of social, cultural, economic and environmental systemic patterns that in the present epoch may take the form of globalization, but in other epochs exhibit different change patterns.

Globalization: Is understood here as the slow but steady change in systemic patterns of global trade, economics, culture, society and behavior; triggered among other things by easier accessibility mediated through communication technologies.

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