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Academic Freedom Past, Academic Freedom Future. Rosalind Pritchard, University of Ulster, Coleraine , Northern Ireland, United Kingdom r.pritchard@ulster.ac.uk. Plan of presentation .

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academic freedom past academic freedom future

Academic Freedom Past, Academic Freedom Future

Rosalind Pritchard, University of Ulster, Coleraine, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

r.pritchard@ulster.ac.uk

plan of presentation
Plan of presentation
  • 1. Explanation of the German/ Humboldtian model of academic values, including freedom  essentialist value system in HE
  • 2. Discussion of challenges to these values with examples based on the English system.
  • 3. A PPT presentation is available containing more detail on certain points and references to back up arguments.

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

slide3

The Eponymous Humboldtian Model of Academic Values, named after Wilhelm von Humboldt who helped to found the University of Berlin (founded 1810)

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

wilhelm von humboldt
Wilhelm von Humboldt
  • An “ideal type” never fully realised, but very influential.
  • Seminal in many countries. Great longevity.
  • Freedom will be understood as pertaining to the individual and autonomy as pertaining to the higher education institutions (HEIs).

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

schematic model of the humboldtian university three unities freedom bildung
Schematic Model of the Humboldtian University: three unities; freedom; Bildung
  • Unity of Research and Teaching
  • Unity of Teachers and Learners
  • Unity of Knowledge
  • Freedom
  • Bildung

(see Pritchard, 1990: 19-58)

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

the unity of research and teaching
The Unity of Research and Teaching
  • German professors are expected to do research as a normal part of their duties. True communication of knowledge involves a recreation of the processes that produced it.
  • The best teaching should involve learning on the part of the teacher as well as on the part of the student. (Schleiermacher, 1808:253).

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

unity of teachers and learners
Unity of Teachers and Learners
  • Knowledge is a search, a process, a form of thinking, not a commodity. The personal relationship between staff and students is conducive to the educational process. Both are there for knowledge; it is absorbed by osmosis as well as work.
  • Ethos is intended to be democratic: professors and students are equal in their pursuit of learning; but the temporary non-professorial staff (Mittelbau)developed and were often insecure and subservient to the full professors.

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

the unity of knowledge
The Unity of Knowledge
  • All branches of knowledge admit of one unified spirit bound together by reason. The whole can be seen in the part and the part in the whole (Fichte, 1807:141).
  • Philosophy is the supreme integrative discipline that embraces nature and history, the empirical and the speculative (—> Ph.D) (Schelling, 1802). The PhD came to Britain from Germany (Simpson, 1983).

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

freedom
“Freedom”
  • For students, independence from family and state —> independent existence (Schleiermacher, 1808; Fichte, 1807)).
  • They MUST NOT BE “spoon fed”! (verschult). Can take their exams when they’re ready for them, not at pre-set times  excessively long programme completion times.
  • Staff need research time and “solitary freedom” (Einsamkeit und Freiheit). They should be free to teach according to their area of academic expertise and view of “truth”.

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

bildung the aesthetic
Bildung: the aesthetic
  • The Earl of Shaftesbury linked the aesthetic and the ethical, and influenced Germany.
  • Bild = picture; concept of developing character as though the human were a free-standing work of art  iconic force, beauty. Self as a “soulscape” involving the development of the whole personality.

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

bildung the ethical
Bildung: the ethical
  • Beauty of soul was first formulated in British thought in late 17th and early 18th centuries (Norton, 1995) —> cultivation of one’s being. The idea of growth became central, even as an image of the divine.
  • Pietism in Germany reinforced the trend towards self-improvement. Reason and instinct became jointly responsible for moral behaviour.

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

bildung social and legal effects
Bildung: social and legal effects
  • Basic Law (Constitution), Article 2 (1): ‘All persons have the right to the free unfolding of their personality, insofar as they do not infringe the rights of others, nor offend against the constitutional order or the moral law.’ UK HAS NO WRITTEN CONSTITUTION.
  • Bildung:Individual development does good to society indirectly without specifically intending to do so.

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

financial pressure in uk
Financial pressure in UK
  • From 2010 onwards the Coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats took power. The deficit was the largest in peace time history: the state was borrowing £1 pound for every £4 it spent; £43 billion went on debt interest which was more than the country was spending on schools in England (HM Treasury, 2010). The government raised HE fees and set an upper limit of £9,000 for undergraduate courses in the 2012-13 academic session.

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

challenges to unity of research and teaching
Challenges to Unity of Research and Teaching
  • Pressure for achievement  ranking  stratification between elite and mass HEIs (Hazelkorn, 2011: 28). Those lowest in the prestige hierarchy have less opportunity to do research, and the unity of research and teaching is wrenched apart first at the individual level, then at the institutional level.
  • Those HEIs towards the top of the prestige hierarchy tend to excel at both research and teaching ( student satisfaction).

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

challenges to the unity of teachers and learners
Challenges to the Unity of Teachers and Learners
  • Course rationalisation  large class numbers; UK courses v. short and less is spent on them (cf. OECD, 2013).
  • Surveys show some dissatisfaction about contact time between staff and students (NSS, 2013; HEPI, 2013; Leman et al., 2013; STeXX). Commodification of course content  so students are no longer “partners” in discovery. MOOCs may increasingly replace traditional lecturers

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

challenges to the unity of teachers and learners1
Challenges to the Unity of Teachers and Learners
  • Finance, research, rankings etc  great stress among academics. UCU Stress Survey, 2012.
  • Academic identities are changing and hybridising (Whitchurch and Gordon(eds) (2010).

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

challenges to the unity of knowledge
Challenges to the Unity of Knowledge
  • Financial pressure  shrinking of curricular offering; devolution of finance to Schools and Departments can make them unwilling to undertake cross-disciplinary programmes.
  • Curiosity-driven research may be repressed in favour of subjects that are demand-led by Research Councils or other sponsors.
  • Many students are entering HE with the vocational equivalents of A levels  a more utilitarian approach to HE.

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster

no freedom without money
No “Freedom” without Money!
  • Freedom for individuals is meaningless if their HEI goes bankrupt.
  • In student surveys, it is the most successful and prestigious universities that provide the most highly rated student experiences (THE, 25.4.2013)
  • CONCLUSION: adequate funding is a sine qua non for full academic freedom. HEIs need many strategies to survive and thrive (cf. Karlsenand Pritchard, 2013. Forthcoming “Resilient Universities”).

Rosalind Pritchard University of Ulster