Being a University in the Twenty-first Century: Rethinking Curriculum

By Anthony David McKenzie, Joy Higgs and Maree Donna Simpson.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

‘The World Universities Forum has been created in the belief that there is an urgent need for academe to connect more directly and boldly with the large questions of our time’ (; accessed 20100914). In this paper, we examine the core educational function of the university in the light of this conception of the university’s role in society. The question at issue is this: what are the curriculum and teaching implications of a university’s commitment to addressing the fundamental challenges of the twenty-first century? This paper draws from, reflects on and shares some of the ideas crystallising out of the first author’s PhD research on challenges of educational design in the twenty-first century university. We focus on the concepts of human aspiration and education for personal agency. We develop our case by reporting on two case studies – the first author’s PhD theorising and Charles Sturt University (Australia’s) institutional renewal project. We are in the process of ascertaining whether our emergent curriculum of becoming theory or mindspace could provide universities with an alternative approach to curriculum design – one that not only places students’ individual and shared meaning making centre-stage, but also one that enables universities to engage in the challenges of the twenty-first century as ‘participants in the travail’ rather than as arms-length knowledge brokers.

Keywords: Curriculum, Theory, Aspiration, Agency, Being, Becoming

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp.1-18. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 939.897KB).

Dr Anthony David McKenzie

Teaching and Staff Development Coordinator, Learning and Teaching Services, Charles Sturt University, Orange, NSW, Australia

My main role at Charles Sturt University is coordination of our induction program in university learning and teaching. This role is evolving rapidly as the university embraces curriculum renewal in order to align all its undergraduate teaching to the framework of the new CSU Degree. I am also in the latter phase of a PhD program investigating ‘Meaning making capability for twenty-first century university education: case studies in textual composition, interpretation and communication’ using a reflexive hermeneutics approach. Key thinkers influencing my meaning making journey, professional and personal, include Teilhard de Chardin, Pierre Hadot, Ken Wilber, Sue Campbell, Ron Barnett, and Henri Bortoft for his explication of Goethe’s way of science. My experiences as educator and researcher coalesce in an understanding that life is a hermeneutic journey. More about me at http://csusap.

Joy Higgs

Director, The Education for Practice Institute, Charles Sturt University, North Parramatta, NSW, Australia

Strategic Research Professor in Professional Practice in the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning & Education (RIPPLE) and the Director of The Education For Practice Institute at Charles Sturt University. Her primary role at CSU is the advancement of practice-based education through collaborations in research, scholarship, student supervision and education. See

Assoc. Prof. Maree Donna Simpson

Deputy Director, The Education for Practice Institute, Charles Sturt University, Orange, NSW, Australia

Associate Professor in Pharmacy Practice, School of Biomedical Sciences, Charles Sturt University. See maree-simpson.


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