Ethics, epistemology and the post-Humboldtian university

Davis, R. A. (2018) Ethics, epistemology and the post-Humboldtian university. In: Smeyers, P. and Depaepe, M. (eds.) Educational Research: Ethics, Social Justice, and Funding Dynamics. Series: Educational Research, 10. Springer, pp. 11-24. ISBN 9783319739212 (doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-73921-2_2)

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Recent critiques of the curricular and pedagogical limitations of the Western university model and its various international imitators have focused sharply on the question of knowledge—in particular the supposed privileging in the academy of Eurocentric and ‘colonialist’ constructions of knowledge at the expense of subaltern or indigenous knowledge repositories and epistemologies. A particular target of this invective has been the modern or so-called ‘Humboldtian’ research university, condemned for its exclusionary conceptions of knowledge legitimation and its imperial subordination of alternative traditions of wisdom, inquiry, learning and knowledge production. While it is important, however, to recognise the damaging effects of the Western university’s complicity with imperial education in all of its hierarchical forms, sustained attention to the careers of the Humboldt brothers and their roles in the shaping of the ‘Berlin Curriculum’ reveals a much more complex understanding of the modern university at the moment of its incubation. Influenced by their various encounters with indigenous societies, and their wider appreciation of the German tradition, the revolutionary reimagining of university essayed by the Humboldts was in fact much more sympathetic to alternative, marginalised styles of reasoning and synthesising than is commonly acknowledged. The Humboldtian moment may therefore be a much more hopeful one for reflecting upon future directions of the globalised, intercultural academy.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Davis, Professor Robert
Authors: Davis, R. A.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Social Justice Place and Lifelong Education
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > People, Place & Social Change
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