Universities and Global Human Development: Theoretical and empirical insights for social change, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Universities and Global Human Development

Theoretical and empirical insights for social change, 1st Edition

By Alejandra Boni, Melanie Walker


198 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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Paperback: 9780815355878
pub: 2017-12-21
Hardback: 9781138822450
pub: 2016-04-15
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This book makes the case for a critical turn in development thinking around universities and their contributions in making a more equal post-2015 world. It puts forward a normative approach based on human development and the capability approach, one which can gain a hearing from policy, scholarship, and practitioners dealing with practical issues of understanding policy, democratising research and knowledge, and fostering student learning - all key university functions.

The book argues that such an approach can elucidate development debates drawing on local, national and international issues and examples to show why higher education matters for sustainable development goals both in educational and social terms. It advocates a new arena of engagement with universities as key sites of development and freedoms beyond human capital and challenges development omissions and gaps around university education. The book explores how the human development approach addresses the following core ideas: the meaning of well-being, the idea of agency, participation and democratic citizenship, how to address inequalities, the relation between local and global, and the idea of equitable partnerships.

This book is addressed to researchers and postgraduate students in development studies, university education, the capability approach and human development community.


"At a time when universities appear focused solely on competing in the higher education market and contributions to national economies, Boni and Walker offer an exciting, imaginative, hopeful and feasible alternative. In this book we are offered concrete examples of how conceptualising the purposes of universities in human development terms can be transformative. A coherent theoretical framework and real-life human development friendly cases exemplify how universities might contribute to social change by emphasising deliberation and participation in university governance; ameliorating social inequalities in access and participation; expanding a broad range of human capabilities; and, fostering human agency towards human development gaols."Monica McLean, University of Nottingham, UK

"Social and economic change that benefits only elites, while other people’s well-being and choices stagnate, is not the kind of ‘development’ that is worth having. Nor is it only development ethicists like me who think that better is possible. The call for better development has become widespread. Universities and Global Development answers with a distinctive call for better education. Other books show how education contributes to development. This one shows how education that contributes to better development is better education. Melanie Walker and Alejandra Boni have given us a well-researched framework with which we can all set new standards for our universities, world-wide." – Jay Drydyk, Carleton University, Canada

"The authors of this book advocate for a multidimensional approach to the university oriented to social change […]The book explores how a human and sustainable development approach can be applied to higher education, specifically participation and citizenship, how to address diversity, the relation between local and global, and the idea of equitable partnerships." - IAU Horizons

Table of Contents

Part 1 1. Introduction 2. Universities from an education and development perspective 3. How development theories understand universities 4. A foundation of human development and capabilities for higher education Part 2 5. Higher education policies from a human development perspective 6. University knowledge contributions and human development 7. Democratizing research: expanding capabilities through participatory action research 8. Student learning opportunities and outcomes Part 3 9. The Human Development Friendly University

About the Authors

Alejandra Boni is Associate Professor at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, Spain, and research fellow of INGENIO Institute (CSIC-UPV). She co-convenor of the thematic Education Group of the Human Development and Capability Association, current vice-president of the International Development Ethics Association and member of the Board of the Spanish Network of Development Studies (REEDES).

Melanie Walker is South African Research Chair in Higher Education and Human Development based in the Institute for Advanced Studies and Scholarship at the University of the Free State, South Africa.. She is also current vice-president of the Human Development and Capability Association.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Sustainable Development

This series uniquely brings together original and cutting-edge research on Sustainable Development. The books in this series tackle difficult and important issues in Sustainable Development including values and ethics; sustainability in higher education; climate compatible development; resilience; capitalism and de-growth; sustainable urban development; gender and participation; and well-being.

Drawing on a wide range of disciplines, the series promotes interdisciplinary research for an international readership. The series was recommended in the Guardian’s suggested reads for Development and Environment.

The series welcomes submissions from established authors in the field as well as from young authors. To submit proposals, please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy