In Inventive Universities: Reimagining Schooling for International Challenges and Different Futures, Anke Schwittay proposes imaginative methods to safe radical change to larger schooling and resist the instrumentalisation and commodification of data, instructing, studying and analysis. This highly effective, daring, vivid and interesting account is an antidote to the challenges of our occasions and affords a critical-creative-imaginative manifesto for various academic and social futures, writes David Hayes.
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Inventive Universities: Reimagining Schooling for International Challenges and Different Futures. Anke Schwittay. Bristol College Press. 2021.
Anke Schwittay’s Inventive Universities is a really welcome and well timed contribution to current crucial pedagogical scholarship and literature. It not solely supplies an interdisciplinary critique of the prevailing institutional and epistemic boundaries of the modern neoliberalised college and its corporate-managerialist conception of creativity. It additionally affords imaginative methods for counter-hegemonic resistance and radical change in schooling and society.
Central to Inventive Universities is the event of what Schwittay calls ‘critical-creative pedagogy’. This contains the conceptual strands of ‘whole-person studying’; the incorporation of artistic methods and techniques from design and the humanities into social science instructing, studying and evaluation; an emphasis on the unification of principle and follow; and the notions of crucial hope and ‘generative principle’ as antidotes to purely destructive or damaging critique.
The particular energy of the e-book is its adventurous and experimental interdisciplinary scope, which ought to resonate with academic practitioners and researchers engaged in social scientific ‘rendezvous disciplines’: locations the place concepts from a spread of disciplines meet and interface, similar to modern crucial criminology and demanding pedagogy. Inventive Universities recognises the politicised nature of schooling and the necessity to articulate counter-hegemonic narratives and discourses that problem the instrumentalisation and commodification of data, instructing, studying and analysis.
Although not explicitly said, the e-book might be seen to be told by an anarchist perspective on schooling in that it seeks to deal with current energy relations, hierarchical constructions and relationships, and develop emancipatory various futures primarily based on social and ecological justice. Inventive Universities can be nicely price studying along side Judith Suissa’s Anarchism and Schooling, as Schwittay’s idea of ‘whole-person studying’ can mutually inform and assist Suissa’s notion of ‘integral schooling’, which challenges the academic-vocational dichotomy that persists in universities.
By way of qualitative analysis methods, most notably crucial ethnography, Schwittay argues for the necessity to map and articulate what are sometimes marginalised, oppositional voices and to seize a ‘pluriverse’ of experiential accounts. An illustration of that is the argument for decolonising the monocultural, monoepistemic and monocosmological curriculum of Western universities and interesting in counter-coloniality/post-colonial narratives and views. This is able to problem dominant ideologies, discourses and analysis agendas within the social sciences and develop epistemological alternate options primarily based on indigenous, social and ecological justice.
When it comes to resisting the marketisation and corporatisation of schooling, Schwittay affords hope for these confronted by the inexorable and more and more virulent neoliberal juggernaut and its colonisation of the lifeworld of universities. The creator addresses the ideological dominance and one-dimensional financial rationality of the enterprise mannequin of schooling, with its managerial tradition, privileging of STEM topics and growing vocationalisation of the curriculum.
Schwittay critically examines the implications of those developments for the humanities, crucial social sciences and humanities, that are potential websites of resistance and oppositional thought and follow. Included right here is an evaluation of the prevalence of regimes of threat evaluation, calculative motive and administration, with a nod to the primary era of Frankfurt College crucial theorists and their critique of instrumental or one-dimensional thought and behavior. Academic practitioners could also be mired in Max Weber’s iron cage of paperwork and subjected to the specific imperatives and requirements of punitive and panoptic managerialist governance. But, Schwittay affords concrete hope past this oppressive goal tradition and the seemingly all-powerful techno-bureaucratic techniques of surveillance, self-discipline, monitoring and management.
Schwittay supplies a critique of the ‘naturalised’ employability discourse and its conception of scholars as self-optimising, perpetually networking, self-disciplining, entrepreneurial topics.
Schwittay operates with a multi-dimensional conception of the scholar as producer, versus the neoliberal mannequin of the scholar as a progressively docile consumer/shopper and a passive recipient of data. Echoing the main focus of different crucial pedagogical discourses, Schwittay supplies a critique of the ‘naturalised’ employability discourse and its conception of scholars as self-optimising, perpetually networking, self-disciplining, entrepreneurial topics.
What’s galvanising for the reader is that this negation of the prevailing order is allied with a progressive imaginative and prescient of scholars as dialogical and relational co-producers of intersubjectively generated data, ethics and follow. A spirit of mutual help, benevolence and social cooperation pervades Schwittay’s militantly optimistic and pragmatic e-book. The decision is for growing college students as international residents and activists, imbued with each a accountability to otherness, which follows from the relational character of the self and relies on the notion of the topic as constituted by its relationship to the opposite, and a accountability to behave.
In Schwittay’s highly effective, daring, vivid and interesting account, the academic expertise might be existentially transformative, with social and environmental points changing into central to the evolving identification of the self. All through the e-book, there’s a dialectical rigidity between the forces of response and containment and the prospects of alternate options in a universe the place aesthetic and moral motive are being more and more eclipsed by financial rationality.
Within the context of ‘whole-person studying’, the notion of ‘embodied learners’ could also be of explicit curiosity. This represents a problem to the metaphysical foundations of Western motive and Western universities. Schwittay affords helpful illustrations of whole-person studying, together with the usage of artistic and demanding autoethnography, the place private biography, experiential, embodied, emotive accounts or micro-stories are linked to wider social constructions and processes and the event of conceptual and theoretical data.
Schwittay demonstrates how methodologies and practices which can be normally discovered within the arts might be creatively and imaginatively transposed to social science disciplines – trans-disciplinarity and interdisciplinarity might be seen because the guiding philosophy informing the argument. Neoliberal ‘restructuring’ in universities is usually accompanied by the message of ‘synergy’ as an ideological justification for dissolving departments and merging disciplinary fields, which merely serves to separate and divide disciplines that might in any other case have the potential for significant, collaborative work. The creator illustrates the wealthy potential of those collaborations by offering the historic instance of the Bauhaus design faculty as a mannequin for participatory pedagogy that provides an anticipatory illumination or prefiguration of cooperative communities of data and follow.
Schwittay demonstrates how methodologies and practices which can be normally discovered within the arts might be creatively and imaginatively transposed to social science disciplines
When discussing ‘socially engaged design’ and differentiating it from neoliberal conceptions (that’s, business design), Schwittay’s imaginative and prescient of radical academic principle and follow evokes the spirit of Karl Marx’s 1843 ‘Letter to Ruge’ – ‘the world has lengthy dreamed of possessing one thing of which it solely must be aware as a way to possess it in actuality’. All through, there’s a highly effective and abiding message of concrete hope that one other academic world is an actual imaginative chance through the medium of academic praxis.
One other essential characteristic of design schooling recognized by the creator is that it fosters college students’ tolerance for ambiguity. In a neoliberal universe the place binary pondering and logic proceed to pay dividends, subtlety, nuance and ambivalence – which could in any other case be seen as traits of a extra superior and mature civilisation – are sometimes run roughshod over by a one-dimensional, goal-orientated brutishness that’s bereft of empathy and humility.
More and more, the power to see issues as polysemic and to be snug with ambiguity and demanding inquiry-based studying seems to be a dying artwork. As Schwittay suggests, the sufferer of this order of issues is the sort of artistic problem-solving celebrated in crucial pedagogy, which prepares college students for tackling ‘depraved issues’ within the social sciences and wider society. The creator supplies detailed descriptions of instructing actions primarily based upon the rules of design pondering and strategies. For these planning and designing undergraduate diploma programmes within the social sciences, Inventive Universities is a veritable treasure trove of concepts for reflexive follow.
Schooling in Western universities stands at a crossroads – Schwittay’s well timed and much-needed e-book is an antidote to the challenges of our occasions and affords a critical-creative-imaginative manifesto for various academic and social futures.
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