TITLE: Ethical learning in the university



Dr. Francisco Esteban. Faculty of Education at the University of Barcelona

Dr. Pádraig Hogan. Education Department, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

Editors Email: franciscoesteban@ub.edu; padraig.hogan@nuim.ie


In recent years, university education has been undergoing a series of very significant changes. These changes, which can also be seen as demands, have been promulgated by a considerable number of institutions, associations and organizations, international and national.    Often originating in government policies, they have also been widely sponsored or adopted by universities.  What is characteristically expected of the contemporary university is anticipated  in the influential document approved in 1998 by the World Conference on Higher Education in the XXI Century. The mission of the university today is to “educate highly qualified graduates and responsible citizens able to meet the needs of all sectors of human activity, by offering relevant qualifications, including professional training, which combine high level knowledge and skills, using courses and content continually tailored to the present and future needs of society.” (UNESCO, 1998, p.21)

            There seems to be a general agreement that university education should be responsive mainly to current professional and social realities; that it must continually adapt to these. In other words, university education today should be something useful, effective and efficient for those who receive it, and that it should mirror the context in which these people will have to work and live. This way of thinking about university education and within university education has brought important changes, including: the creation of new and innovative curricula at undergraduate and graduate level; the reformulation of other existing academic programmes; a negative attitude towards some traditional programmes for their perceived lack of utility (e.g. ancient classics;  a new emphasis on skills training, the expansion of digital resources for purposes of teaching, learning and assessment.

The emergence of newly dominant forms of university education has unsurprisingly led to criticisms that renew and define afresh a debate of long ancestry; a debate that has marked the history of the university itself as an institution.  What is significant however in recent developments in higher education policies internationally has been the ascendancy of a bureaucratic voice: a decisive shift of influence from scholarly to administrative hands and an attendant preoccupation with economic and utilitarian concerns. The impact of an underlying neoliberal orientation is also central in this connection. In short, the mission of the university in matters of ethics, citizenship and education of character has been relegated in favour of specialised forms of training.  The public interest becomes recast as the collection of specific interests that prevail at present.

It would be foolhardy of course to assert that we are in the twilight of ethics education in the university. The vast majority of universities, in one way or another and with more or less impact, consider ethics and citizenship questions to be part of their training project. This tends to involve a fragmentation however, and major reduction in scope: a pigeonholing of ethical questions that can deprive them of their critical purpose and severely curtail their practical possibilities.

Bordón  wishes to focus this monograph on ethics education at university today: its nature and scope, its possibilities, its difficulties, given new university reforms that have prevailed in recent years, especially in the Western world. Ethics education at university not only has to do with a question of intentions; it has multiple dimensions that influence the educational mission of the academic institution and that undoubtedly deserve careful analysis.

With this Special Issue Bordón hopes to open a space to review a range of relevant topics;  we invite articles that address rigorously and critically issues such as the following:

  • What do we mean when we talk about ethical education in university contexts?
  • What impact has the ethical training received by recent graduates? –  graduates  in general or graduates in particular areas of knowledge
  • What popular or classical pedagogies are more conducive to addressing the issue of ethics education at university today?
  • What do employers say today regarding ethical education in the university?
  • What role does ethics play in current approaches for training and competitions?
  • What academic content could fruitfully address the issue of ethics education in college, and what presence does such content have in existing curricula for degrees?
  • To what extent are university teachers today involved in the ethical education of their students?
  • What impact do new features of university programmes have in the ethical education of teacher education students? (e.g. requiremens of accreditation processes, developing management tasks for students)
  • How does ethical education fare in models of university pedagogy that are becoming more widespread- e.g. on-line programmes, virtual learning environments?
  • What are the relationships between the university’s responsibilities in ethical education  and the university’s current models of management, policy-making and policy implementation?

Bordón publishes research papers which are well conceived and argued, with a clear method and novel contributions. Bordón is especially looking for items that come from research that provides evidence on the issues discussed.

All authors are asked to follow the rules of Bordón –  summarised as: IMRYD (Introduction, Methodology, Results and Discussion) Papers should follow APA standards.

We hope the Special Issue will be of interest to researchers of university education, to lecturing and research staff in universities, to university administrators and policy-makers, and all from related fields who have something to contribute to this area.  We are keen that these invited contributions will provide incisive insights, in keeping with high international standing of the Bordón periodical.

Articles must follow the Bordón rules and be sent via our OJS platform http://recyt.fecyt.es/index.php/BORDON/index).

We invite contributions that are set in various educational contexts and at all levels of education. For sending contributions please review:

http://recyt.fecyt.es/index.php/BORDON/about/submissions#authorGuidelines (for the author)

http://recyt.fecyt.es/index.php/BORDON/about/editorialPolicies#sectionPolicies (Policy)

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