• Background: Widener Library, Harvard University, postcard 1916

    A workshop within the framework of ‘Universities: Past—Present—Future’, at the Mahindra Humanities Center Seminar

    Organized by Anja-Silvia Goeing on September 12, 2019, 5-7pm

  • The Funding of Higher Education: Course (2020)

    The Funding of Higher Education: Course (2020)

    University of Zurich


 Now available                                                   
Roundtable Video Podcast--
The Funding of Higher Education (2019)


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What is or should be the relationship between a democratic polity and its educational institutions and places of higher learning?  

Contemporary discussions of curricula place great stress on utility, on the value of learning skills as they apply not just to the employability of students, but to the economic and political well-being of a state or nation.

Older, more humanist notions of education as a process of self-fulfillment, of making a better moral person, have been challenged by such technocratic ideals and are often seen as outmoded.

At the same time the question of what values inform democratic education raises the issue of who decides on what should be studied and how. 

How much autonomy should educators have, and to what extent should funders  – whether the state and politicians, grant giving agencies, private gift-givers and donors or voters and ‘the public’, however defined – affect or influence university policy, academic curricula or research objectives. 

There is a tension at the heart of this issue, one between the public good of material well-being and the democratic value of free critical thinking, one that raises the question of how independent and autonomous educational institutions should or can be in a democratic society. Learn more


Recent Publications

Paul Gibbs. 2017. Why Universities Should Seek Happiness and Contentment. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC.Abstract
The totalising effect of consumerism, well-being and satisfaction is a discourse which may negate the value of struggle and mastery of complex subjects and a realization of personal potentiality. Why Universities Should Seek Happiness and Contentment considers the consequences of a hedonistic and well-being centred model of student education as one of the goals of higher education and proposes an alternative goal for higher education. In a globalised consumer society where the anxiety for an identity leads to the fear of not reaching the standard, Paul Gibbs shows how anxiety can be harnessed to secure contentment with one's own future without the fear of consumer-induced emptiness. He conceptualises higher education in a counter-valued way to the current dominant discourse of higher education institutions and educational policy while placing students at the centre of their own educational activity. In doing so, Gibbs proposes contentment as a guiding principle of higher education.
Manuel Jiménez Raya, José Javier Martos Ramos, and Maria Giovanna Tassinari. 2017. Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Higher Education: Perspectives from Modern Language Teaching. Frankfurt a.M. Peter Lang GmbH, Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften.Abstract
This volume pools the insights and experiences of a group of international researchers on different aspects of autonomy and related issues. Although autonomy is acknowledged as one of the main goals of education, in higher education the need for accountability and standardisation of learning outcomes constrain its development..
Bridget A. Bunten and Ryan Kelty. 2017. Risk-taking in higher education: the importance of negotiating intellectual challenge in the college classroom. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.Abstract
"Risk-taking is foundational to the structure and goals of higher education. Encouraging students to consider new, diverse, even uncomfortable ideas is needed to develop a critically informed view of the world and establish one’s own values and beliefs. Yet, students and parents are increasingly averse to risk-taking in higher education; a shift evidenced by calls for colleges and universities to provide an education that shelters students from diverse and potentially controversial ideas and topics. This tension over the necessary role of risk-taking in higher education represents a critical moment for American education. This volume includes authors from numerous academic disciplines to emphasize both the importance of risk-taking across higher education and to highlight the varied approaches to incorporate risk-taking into classroom practices. The authors’ collective works in this volume reaffirm the critical need to reject intellectual coddling and commodification in the college classroom, and to promote intellectual risk-taking as an essential aspect of higher education. Sustained, systematic emphasis on risk-taking in higher education is key to promoting innovation, critical thinking, life-long learning, and moral-ethical development."–Publisher's website.
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