The Scholarship of Knowledge in the Modernised University

The Scholarship of Knowledge in the Modernised University

Gregory Heath
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6202-5.ch014
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This chapter investigates how the modernised university might be transformed by the wider adoption of Mode-2 knowledge production. Mode-2 knowledge production, production of dispersed, team-based knowledge, as distinct from the traditional discipline-based Mode-1 knowledge production, was first identified and discussed by Gibbons et al. in 1994. Since then, the terminology has found its way into more general discourse about research and teaching and learning, but in that discourse, Mode-2 knowledge production has struggled to find the legitimacy and acceptance accorded to Mode-1. This is in spite of the fact that knowledge today is most often produced in collaboration, is transmitted in multi-mediated modalities, and utilised in transformative ways very often not envisioned by the generators of that knowledge. It is argued that the reason for the lack of acceptance lies in the fact that a supporting epistemology for Mode-2 knowledge has not, to date, been adequately developed. Thus, the chapter proposes that an epistemology based in philosophical or “American” pragmatism founded by Charles Sanders Peirce can be adopted to provide an articulated and well-grounded epistemology to support Mode-2 as a legitimate form of knowledge production.
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The discipline of education faces increasing criticism from many quarters for failing to meet the challenges posed by the development of the networked society. Teachers and teacher educators and academic staff have been slow to utilize the new media as effective learning tools whilst most of the students use these with consummate and seamless ease. At university level there is a more effective use of technology in learning but its use and uptake have been somewhat piecemeal. This is not just a generational issue: there is a genuine resistance to the new media, as it is often seen as lacking legitimacy or authority as a pedagogical practice.

Opinions are divided amongst policy makers and educators about pedagogical practice, ranging from downright reactionary –seeking to wind back practice to a traditional disciplinary mode with traditional pedagogical methods on the one hand, to the full embrace of postmodernism, trans–disciplinarity and the use of new media on the other.

What is lacking is an epistemological framework to accommodate and underpin the post–modern approach to knowledge formation and transmission and use of learning technologies. The matter of the new epistemology is multi–layered and still evolving. At the deepest level there is work being done, mainly in Europe, on the post–modernist/post–structuralist epistemologies which most often use post–Heideggerian, broadly phenomenological approaches. The recent work of Rancière (1991) would fit this characterization. At more accessible levels there is work proceeding on how technological mediation of information and information processing restructures the relationship between the knower and the known.

Gibbons et al (1994) distinguish between Mode 1 and Mode 2 knowledge as follows:

Mode 1 is characterized as being:

  • Discipline based,

  • Carrying a distinction between pure (or fundamental) and applied,

  • Normally produced by individuals,

  • Produced in universities or traditional research centers,

  • Subject to quality control by peer review,

  • Inherently local or localized.

Mode 2 is characterized by knowledge that is:

  • Produced in the context of application,

  • Transdisciplinary,

  • Heterogeneous in terms of the skills and experience brought to it,

  • Produced in diverse sites,

  • Characterized by the production in teams,

  • Subject to social accountability and reflexivity,

  • Subject to the quality control of market acceptability as well as peer review,

  • Global or non–localized.

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