The Promise of Untimely Meditations: Reflections on University Education in the Early Twenty-First Century.
Hogan, Padraig (2006) The Promise of Untimely Meditations: Reflections on University Education in the Early Twenty-First Century. In: What Price the University? Perspectives on the meaning and value of higher education from the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. A Special Issue of Maynooth Philosophical Papers . National University of Ireland, Maynooth, Maynooth, pp. 139-150. ISBN 0901519766
Within the last few decades higher education nternationally has become increasingly regarded as a strategic resource for economic and scientific advance. Reference to the 'entrepreneurial university' has become commonplace in public discourse. This is not to say, however, that universities, as places of learning, have become recast tout ensemble as places of production. Were the change as resounding as this, the scope to pursue any teaching and research that was not tied to some economic or social policy imperative would have all but disappeared. The resulting discontent would be difficult to weather by authorities in democratic societies. What has been underway is something more urbane and more intricate than a crass inversion in the purposes of higher learning. Mirroring developments in society more widely, a new utilitarianism, now in a technological key, has been confidently establishing itself as the conventional wisdom of educational policy debates. (EU Commission 1996, 2000, 2005; OECD 2004a, 2004b, 2005). It is clear that this new utilitarianism is helled by the economic globalisation that has become dominant, especially since the end of the Cold War. What is less clear is that this utilitarianism, as a newly-established public wisdom, is also itself a major cultural force that fuels the further advance of such globalisation. Far from being an abrupt revolution or a passing trend or fashion, I believe that what we are witnessing here is a historic cultural shift over a generation or two, possibly of comparable significance to the historic ascendancy of a religious world view that was accomplished over a much longer period in medieval Western civilisation. It is worth recalling that it was such a shift, theological rather than commercial in character, that brought universities into being in the first instance.
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