Serving and/or challenging? University, society and the educational task

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This paper analyzes different discourses of the relation between ‘society’ and ‘university’ and discusses what this might mean for the educational task and the meaningful university. In the last decade a strong focus on employability in Danish universities emphasise a role of university as serving society by doing ‘relevant research’, ‘solving problems’ and producing graduates for the future job market. This idea of the purpose of teaching and research stands in some contrast to a notion of universities as independent institutions obliged to challenge common understandings of problems and solutions. Discourses like these are articulated and made salient in diverse and complex ways at different times, which will be the analytic point of departure for this paper. The case of the analysis is Roskilde University (RUC) and discourses of ‘the societal relation’ as seen in organizational self-narratives and pedagogical literature in the 2010’s and the 1970’s. The analysis will trace discursive continuities and discontinuities on the understanding of ‘society’ and its relation to university to show how discourses of ‘employability’, ‘serving society’ and ‘challenging society’ emerge and change. I then ask how these changing discourses affect the educational task and notions of meaningfulness in IBL education today.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date21 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2021
EventThe 7th International Academics Identities Conference: The Meaningful University: Exploring Contemporary Complexities and Challenges - and working towards what matters - Roskilde University (Online), Roskilde, Denmark
Duration: 21 Jun 202123 Jun 2021
Conference number: 7


ConferenceThe 7th International Academics Identities Conference
LocationRoskilde University (Online)
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