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Issue 6 - May 2008

Title - We are condemned to learn: Towards higher education as a learning society
Author - Dr Ted Fleming [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - As higher education faces challenges to adapt to changing social, political, and labour-force contexts this is an opportune time to examine these influences. Demands come from the economy, mediated by the neo-liberal state, to reform, attend to the interests of the job market, become less dependent on the state and have more inclusive access policies. The language and values of the economy insert themselves into the discourse, management and pedagogic practices of the university. The ideas of Jürgen Habermas are useful for understanding this dynamic and for plotting a way forward. His ideas on the relationship between the state, economy and civil society are utilised, as are his ideas on colonisation of the lifeworld, the demise of the public sphere and his ‘Theory of Communicative Action’. This paper moves towards rethinking the aims of higher education as a community of rational and democratic discourses within which democracy is learned and practised. It redefines democracy (and higher education) as a learning society.[read full article]


Title - Engineering - An Inherently Philosophical Enterprise
(This appears as chapter 4 in Philosophy of Engineering and appears here in pdf format with the
permission of the copyright holder
)
Author - William Grimson [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - This chapter first sets out the arguments for considering engineering from a philosophical point of view with specific reference to the main branches of Philosophy. Additionally within the single branch of Epistemology, the relevance of Empiricism, Rationalism, Existentialism, Logical Positivist, and Post-Modernism to engineering is briefly outlined. The general proposition advanced is that Engineering is itself fundamentally philosophical in nature, attempting in its own way to make sense of the world in which we live. [read full chapter (pdf)]


Title - Towards a model of critical ethics to inform the research process in postgraduate research
Author -Aidan Kenny- [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - The ethics narrative has become embedded in the contemporary research process, as evident in the emergence of Ethical Committees in faculty and both public and private organisations. Ethics have been codified, made visible and accessible as text artefacts in the forms of (both voluntary and regulatory) codes, statements, conventions, guidelines, principles, procedures, practices. In this short paper I explore this codification of ethics from the period post WWII, detailing some of the milestone text artefacts. [read full article]


Title - International league tables and rankings in higher education: An appraisal
Author - Kathleen Lynch- [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - Universities have marketed themselves in the public sphere and justified public funding for their activities on the grounds that they serve the public good. They have traded on their Enlightenment inheritance that they are the guardians and creators of knowledge produced for the greater good of humanity in its entirety. They are seen and claim to be seen as the watchdogs for the free interchange of ideas in a democratic society; they claim to work to protect freedom of thought, including the freedom to dissent from prevailing orthodoxies. [read full article]


Title - The interface between academic knowledge and working knowledge: Implications for curriculum design and pedagogic practice
Author - Dr Anne Murphy- [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - This paper considers some aspects of the theory and practice of work-based learning (WBL) that may be of interest to academic staff in higher education who have responsibility for negotiating, designing, delivering and assessing programmes for, and with, Irish workplaces, companies, organisations and sectors of the workforce. The paper does not claim to be breaking significant new ground: rather it is trying to connect aspects of the field to inform underpinning of WBL curriculum design and related pedagogic practice as the start of a conversation rather than the last word. [read full article]


Title - Discourse analysis as an approach to intercultural competence in the Advanced EFL classroom
Author - Dr Sue Norton- [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - In 1991 Michael McCarthy wrote in his Preface to Discourse Analysis for Language Teachers that discourse analysis is ‘not a method of teaching languages; it is a way of describing and understanding how language is used’. By 1994 he had reformulated his position and, with Ronald Carter, published Language as Discourse: Perspectives for Language Teaching, which argued in favour of providing students with a metalanguage by which to analyse the language they were learning. These days, owing to the work of McCarthy, Carter, and others, the basics of discourse analysis can indeed comprise an appropriate subject matter for the advanced English learner, especially in a multicultural setting. This paper outlines one way in which discourse analysis can not only give Advanced EFL learners the opportunity to sharpen their critical thinking skills, but to simultaneously examine the cultural assumptions embedded in both their target and native languages.[read full article]


Title - The competences issue in the entrepreneurial university
Author - Sorin Eugen Zaharia, Cosmina Marinela Mironov, Anca Elena Borzea- [click here for a biography of the author]
Summary - Nowadays, education represents one of the most active areas within the social framework characterized by reflection, analysis, confrontation and attitude taking. The notions of ‘crisis’ and ‘quality’ are two of the attributes that obsessively appear in the discourses of the experts in sciences of education. Although at first glance the two terms seem contradictory, in fact they are interdependent, raising a very interesting dialectic: without break-ups and controversies, there cannot be changes or improvements. Extensive reforms of the educational systems both at pre-university and university levels reflect profound changes occurring in contemporary society. As far as higher education is concerned, the last decade faced ample reform, which became synonymous with the initiative of developing the European Higher Education Area.[read full article]