1 Centre for Discourse Studies, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN2 Department of Communication and Psychology, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN3 Department of Language and Culture, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN4 Centre for Mobility and Urban Studies, The Faculty of Engineering and Science, Aalborg University, VBN5 C-DiT - Centre for Discourses in Transition, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN
Recently, the Danish higher education sector has become more aware of the issues of academic freedom, democratic control, deregulation and privatisation, eg. with the new university reform law. But we note that not many are as aware of the issues that lie beyond the national debate. The question of what the University stands for in an age of globalisation hangs in the air. In fact, there are big changes looming that threaten the whole fabric of public higher education in Denmark and globally. The danger comes from neoliberal global institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the World Bank (EdInvest), as well as from the private lobby groups such as Global Alliance for Transnational Education (GATE). By implementing the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), the WTO stands to have an immeasurable impact on the funding, provision, staffing, democracy and content of public services such as higher education. Thus, in this panel, we would like to provide background information on the issues involved, and then critically discuss the possible consequences for Aalborg University’s progressive project-centred pedagogy. 1) Is there a ‘threat’ or a crisis of legitimacy? a. Is the Aalborg model conducive to marketisation, commodification, benchmarking and audit? b. What impact will modularisation and the supermarket model of student education have on the curricula that are integral to group project-work? c. Will the widening democratic deficit inherent in the corporate university undermine the principles of the Aalborg model? d. What effect will New Public Management have on the resources needed for supporting a healthy climate for project-centred learning? 2) What is the diagnosis? What do we value about the Aalborg model? a. What are the roles of the social sciences and humanities in a highly technocratic, cost-benefit driven ‘knowledge society’? b. What sectors of (civil) society are rendered invisible and inefficient when the model strives only to train one for a market economy? 3) What alternatives are there? a. What is the future for social justice, critical thought, cosmopolitan practice and a community of dissensus within Aalborg’s innovative model? b. Rather than defend an outmoded system, can the Aalborg model live in ‘the ruins’ of the University? Or is there an Aalborg Experiment 2.0?