Open seminar: A new social contract for Higher Education?
This seminar, presented by Peter Maasen, will discuss the way in which the university’s social contract is interpreted, criticized and renewed especially in Europe and the USA.
Professor Peter Maassen. Photo: Department of Education
The university as an institution is in a critical period with a potential for a major rebalancing of internal and external relations of authority, power and responsibility in university governance. This rebalancing has been argued to be part of the search for a new ‘social contract’ or ‘pact’ between the university, political authorities, and society at large. A ‘social contract’ is a fairly long-term cultural commitment to and from the university, as an institution with its own foundational rules of appropriate practices, causal and normative beliefs, and resources, yet validated by the political and social system in which the university is embedded. A social contract is different from a formal legal contract based on continuous strategic calculation of expected value by public authorities, organized external groups, university employees, and students - all regularly monitoring and assessing the university on the basis of its usefulness for their self-interest, and acting accordingly.
This seminar will discuss the way in which the university’s social contract is interpreted, criticized and renewed especially in Europe and the USA. As such it will contribute to the discussion on the redefinition of the identity of the university as the prime knowledge institution.
The paper presented is based on literature reviews and empirical work in a number of research council funded projects at the University of Oslo.