Idea of a University and European Values: Collapse or Renaissance? Olga Gomilko (Ukraine) The National Academy of Science of Ukraine H. Skovoroda Institute of Philosophy [email protected]
The goal of this survey is to warn about the trend towards dissolution of a University in the general context of the modern higher education pragmatization and substantiating a thesis of the common fate for the idea of Europe and idea of a University. It is an important objective of this article to demonstrate an uncertain state of the modern Europe as a prerequisite to its transformation into a different type of culture. Since, if Europe renounces its own idea, the chances to preserve a University are small. However, an independent University may save Europe. The paper refers to the Bucharest Communiqué to think over the fate of a University in the context of critical challenges in the European process. A University is not mentioned in this document, and this fact proves the view that there is a threat in the knowledge society that a University may dissolve in the concept of higher education. Once a University loses its special status in the culture an independence of thought weakens. Unless modern European processes are subject to critical analysis, their further perspective gives rise to concern.
“Forgetting” about a University. No new provisions in the Bucharest Communiqué prove that the Bologna process remains in the former paradigm. However, in contrast to the other key documents in the Bologna process, it does not go about a University. It goes about higher education in general. Although higher education is mostly represented by university education, these concepts are not equal. In the conditions where universities fail to fulfill their intended purpose, we can observe dissolution of the distinctions among higher educational
institutions. For instance, almost all higher educational institutions in post-totalitarian Ukraine are universities. Not only former institutes but also technical secondary schools and specialized secondary schools also have got the status of university. But, why is a University not mentioned in the last communiqué in the Bologna process? The identification of the concept of a University with a concept of higher education demonstrates that modern university loses its special status in the culture. Incredible as it may seem the modern knowledge society is the reason underlying this phenomenon. In the conditions where knowledge takes on the significance of economic capital, a University maintains no monopoly on its generation. Corporate and other non-academic research and education institutions also are successful in producing knowledge. As a result of competition, universities gain attributes of commercial entities thus losing their autonomy. It can be assumed that the Bucharest Communiqué does not mention a University because it does not see its fundamental distinction from other educational institutions. “Forgetting” about a University in the Bucharest Communiqué contributes to the problem of the university paradigm shift as the Bologna reform itself may be considered as overcoming the former paradigm of a University. Limitation of an academic autonomy of the latter towards its pragmatization expresses the substance of this process. Two potential perspectives arise for a University. The first is: a University may transform into a commercial entity. The second expresses the intention to save a University as an autonomous cultural phenomenon. Uncertain position in the Bucharest Communiqué about the fate of modern university strengthens philosophic interest to this problem. The Bologna process contributes to the main intrigue that is the contradiction between university’s autonomy and orientation of higher education towards economic needs of society. It is obvious that the main goal of the Bologna reform is to bring higher education to fit practical needs of society. The principle of European higher education - so called triangle of knowledge - documents the need to strengthen relationship between education, research and innovative technologies or, in other words, practice. Let’s remind that Humboldt’s paradigm of a University, which presents its classic image, protects education and research against pragmatic influence of society. Being focused on practice, the Bologna reform impairs classic autonomy of a University. No wonder that the issue of preserving a University arises at the beginning of the Bologna process.
Hope for a University. An educational concept of a mind as a thing transcendental to the world expresses aspiration of the culture to create an institution that would promote thinking independent of any specific cultural and historic context. For instance, Humboldt sees the objective of a University as follows: “to process science in the deepest and widest sense of the word and transfer processed material to spiritual education”i. According to Humboldt, the university’s mission should be to train students to a lifelong search for scientific truth. While the matters like provision of earnings remain outside the goals of a University. The Humboldt’s paradigm proposed as early as at the beginning of ХІХ century still remains influential and to substantial degree defines the image of a modern European, in particular, Ukrainian university. The changes in the domain of higher education started by the Bologna process are justified by the fact of its lagging from the society needs. The grandiose changes the European society experienced upon the establishment of the European Union opened new opportunities. The Sorbonne Declaration (1998) emphasizes that Europe is not only euro, banks and economy: this should be Europe of knowledge as well. That is why we should strengthen and build intellectual, cultural and technical dimensions of our continent ii. The revival of Europe should be associated rather with the ideas and values underlying the European culture than the world wars and XX century totalitarian regimes. The declaration also mentions that the objectives could be achieved thanks to universities, which have made a significant contribution into the European culture and continue developing the same. So, the Bologna initiatives rest hopes for a University. For instance, the Sorbonne Declaration states that initial principles of a University would be restored. It is interesting that the key principle of the Bologna reform – mobility – finds justification in the history of universities when students and lecturers could freely move between places and fast spread knowledge all over the continent. The Declaration affirms that the student mobility inherent to those times became a driver to creation of the modern European society. One could hardly imagine European culture without a University. Formation of the European identity becomes an urgent task of this policy. Since Europe could hardly unite on the basis of institutional integration alone. It is important to incorporate the European values into personal attitudes. Stella Ghervas proposes two ways to help the European values to preserve their rational nature and gain closer-to-life expressioniii. The first concerns education, primarily, university education. It consists in teaching history in the fashion that would encourage understanding of the advantages offered by the
perspectives to unite Europe upon the World War II and the collapse of the communist regimes in the Eastern Europe. The main task of historic education should be to prove that these advantages are impossible without peace among nations on the continent, democracy, social justice, welfare and human liberties. Formation of this vision supposes teaching the philosophy that would communicate the European origin of these values. Belief in the fact that selected strategy towards developing unity of European nations corresponds to the European values, defines the task for independent thinking. Otherwise, the ghost of ideology will destroy it. So, it is necessary to support higher education, especially universities, not only to train “creative, innovative, critically thinking and responsible graduates required for economic growth and sustainable development of our democracies”iv as the Bucharest Declaration goes, but also to ensure an independent - from policy, money, ideology - view on European process, how it is called today. The concerns are not limited to an economic crisis. The loss of the thing that has built Europe – freedom of thought - may become much more threatening. Only a University that, in contrast to Humboldt’s university, acknowledges the limitations and dangers of a mind may guarantee the same. References Translation from Гумбольдт Про внутрішню та зовнішню організацію вищих навчальних закладів у Берліні in Ідея університету: Антологія / Упоряд.: М. Зубрицька, Н. Бабалик; відп.ред. М. Зубрицька (Львів: Літопис. 2002) р. 25 i
Sorbonne Joint Declaration Joint declaration on harmonisation of the architecture of the European higher education system by the four Ministers in charge for France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom Paris, the Sorbonne, May 25 1998 / http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/hogeronderwijs/bologna/documents/MDC/SORBONNE_DECLARATION1.pdf iii
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