The University in the 21st Century: Teaching the New Enlightenment at the Dawn of the Digital Age

The University in the 21st Century: Teaching the New Enlightenment at the Dawn of the Digital Age

The University in the 21st Century: Teaching the New Enlightenment at the Dawn of the Digital Age

The University in the 21st Century: Teaching the New Enlightenment at the Dawn of the Digital Age

Synopsis

This volume addresses the broad spectrum of challenges confronting today’s universities. Elkana and Klöpper question the very idea and purposes of universities, especially as viewed through curriculum—what is taught, and pedagogy—how it is taught. The reforms recommended in the book focus on undergraduate or bachelor degree programs in all areas of study, from the humanities and social sciences to the natural sciences, technical fields, as well as law, medicine, and other professions. The core thesis of this book rests on the emergence of a ‘New Enlightenment. This will require a revolution in curriculum and teaching methods in order to translate the academic philosophy of global contextualism into universal practice or application. Are universities willing to revamp teaching in order to foster critical thinking that would serve students their entire lives? This book calls for universities to restructure administratively to become truly integrated, rather than remaining collections of autonomous agencies more committed to competition among themselves than cooperation in the larger interest of learning.

Excerpt

The Enlightenment cluster of values, which saw knowledge as rational and all-embracing, that evolved in linear and predictable ways, and was measurable, context-independent and coherent led to extraordinary solutions to scientific, social and economic problems. That cluster, however, has exhausted itself. It no longer, Yehuda Elkana and Hannes Klöpper argue, describes a reality that is complex, messy, non-linear, context-dependent and unpredictable. the consequences of this reality for education and especially higher education are momentous, even revolutionary

In a series of wide-ranging chapters, Elkana and Klöpper explain why and how universities have to respond if they are to retain any meaningful role in a world that desperately needs to be better understood and requires more knowledgeable and concerned citizens. New curricula have to be created that combine rigorous disciplinary skills and immersion in the most critical problems the world faces. Learning and research need to center on such questions as: Is there one form or many forms of democracy? How can epidemics be contained or even eliminated? What economic theories can cope with poverty and hunger in dramatically different societies? How do differing values and technologies affect our environments?

To answer such questions, Elkana and Klöpper make clear that the traditional dichotomy between universities, which focus on theoretical knowledge and basic research, and technical and professional schools, which are about practical applications, is no longer viable. Admirably, they provide examples of how universities can and are bringing together theoretical considerations and real-life situations.

What follows from the questions and innovations is a new orientation that focuses on how universities can provide incentives and teach skills that will . . .

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