A Public Values Perspective
Edited by Peter Leisink, Paul Boselie, Maarten van Bottenburg and Dian Marie Hosking
This quotation from the leftist anchorman of critical pedagogy, Henri Giroux, contains all the key elements of our chapter (although we do not entirely share his opinion). Universities – ‘citadels of democratic learning’ – can be viewed as knowledge institutions that have the capacity to address social issues from various angles and different disciplines and, as such, as institutions that offer public goods. Universities as public organizations embody public values that relate to education and research as part of, and for the benefit of, the public sphere. It is through their public values that universities formulate their corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, the university does not exist: the ‘idea of the university’ comes in many guises. Before we proceed to the issue of CSR and the public values of the university, we will first elaborate on the different social constructions surrounding the concept of the ‘university’, the different ideas about what a university is supposed to be. It is logical to expect different visions of CSR and public values to be connected to the different concepts of the university. Nowadays, economic imperatives increasingly determine the position of higher education, introducing into the system a set of public values that embody those economic imperatives and subsequently end up marginalizing other contrasting sets of public values.
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