Perspectives on future university practice

Student thesis: Master thesis (including HD thesis)

  • Lea Møller Strandgaard-Mortensen
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
The ambition for this thesis is to contribute to the discussion of the future of the university, by creating a room for reflection of the character of power in the future university.
Through a brief historical overview of the purpose of the university, it’s changing role in society and the development of university policy, I have painted a picture of the course for future universities that only seems to point in one direction.
My motivation for writing this thesis stems from a future workshop, I arranged with students at KUA (University of Copenhagen – Amager). The aim of the future workshop was to gain insight, into the kind of visions the students could have for a better study life. And to see what would result, from giving the students a direct voice. The future workshop was based on a knowledge interest, stemming from the purpose of action research - to strengthen the sense of empowerment amongst the students. The outcome of the future workshop expanded my knowledge interest, to gain insight into the political governance of students at the university. And to explore alternatives to the future of the university, that could accommodate the wishes of the students. I chose to use Mitchell Deans analysis of governmentality, to gain an understanding of power and governance of the university. The thesis aims to answer the following research question:
How can governance towards the goals of future universities, be understood as governance through empowerment programs? How can unintended consequences of this form of governance influence the students, and how can students' wishes for their study life be met in the future university practice?
The thesis uses legal documents and reports from governmental commissions as the object of the analysis of governmentality. The way that the reforms and reports problematize the current governing of the universities, and the changes they suggest based on the rationalities that is typical for the neoliberalist regimes, offers an insight into the governing that is to be expected in the future universities. The thesis concludes that universities are governed through reforms, based on neoliberal rationalities of economy. In this rationale, the purpose of education is to contribute to the productivity and economic growth of the country. Therefore students are guided through empowerment programs, that seek to educate the students autonomous capabilities, to make rational choices, and to conduct themselves in accordance with the management regime, while the reforms simultaneously change and shape the students opportunities of choice in the education system. This form of governance is restricting and demotivating the students, they do not feel like they have enough opportunities for freedom of choice, and democratic participations in their study life. Their wishes for the future university include more choices, participation that is more democratic and more interdisciplinary cooperation. All characteristics that could be met, with the methods of action research. In my discussion, therefore, I will discuss the opportunities for action research in the future university.
LanguageDanish
Publication date31 May 2017
Number of pages78
ID: 258556961