In 2015 a social movement swept across the South African higher education sector fuelled by the anger of the ‘born free’ generation, the students born into post-apartheid South Africa. The movement found solidarity in other parts of the globe where the past decade has witnessed the rise of student protests in the UK, the US, Chile, Turkey and Hong Kong to name a few. While the demands are specific to national contexts, the underlying obstacles of economic, cultural and political access into higher education are consistent. These protests have put a spotlight on the global academy that, like the society of which it is a part, is increasingly characterized by inequality. At its core these movements call for a more socially just higher education system. This call is profoundly dissonant to the dominant neoliberal discourses currently shaping higher education.
Against the backdrop of these discourses there has been an unprecedented pressure on higher education curricula. This edited collection is dedicated to exploring what a socially just curriculum reform agenda might involve. The authors share a commitment to socially just curricula and a concern about the ways in which curricula are deeply implicated in the processes of producing and reproducing inequality. Each chapter opens up a different vista on the contested curriculum space drawing on a range of theoretical tools – Archer, Bernstein, Giroux, and Maton to name a few – to illuminate the contestation. Perhaps even more importantly they also draw on a range of voices from both inside and outside the academy. This book was originally published as a special issue of Teaching in Higher Education.
Introduction: A socially just curriculum reform agenda
Suellen Shay and Tai Peseta
1. On the making and faking of knowledge value in higher education curricula
2. Asserting academic legitimacy: the influence of the University of Technology sectoral agendas on curriculum decision-making
3. ‘I take engineering with me’: epistemological transitions across an engineering curriculum
Christine Winberg, Simon Winberg, Cecilia Jacobs, James Garraway and Penelope Engel-Hills
4. Curriculum contestation in a post-colonial context: a view from the South
5. Contesting the violence of Tylerism: toward a cosmopolitan approach to the curriculum of second language teacher education
Sardar M. Anwaruddin
6. The influence of curricula content on English sociology students’ transformations: the case of feminist knowledge
Andrea Abbas, Paul Ashwin and Monica McLean
7. The necessity and possibility of powerful ‘regional’ knowledge: curriculum change and renewal
8. Interdisciplinary curriculum reform in the changing university