Transforming the way to learn through dialogue and participation

Global University Network for Innovation:

Why should issues such as citizenship, sustainable development or multiculturalism be included in higher education curricula?
Because they are really pressing issues, which the world is facing today. If we think about the traditional role of higher education, when it first began, it was very socially engaged. In fact, the early universities really grew from the need from the church to actually engage in society and the role of the universities reflected that. Overtime, I think universities have become more removed from society and gradually have been involved in a production of knowledge, which tends to objectify reality. In fact, the multiple realities of the world are very complex. So it is very hard to see how that kind of learning, based on a belief in an objective truth, really can be maintained within many higher education systems at the moment when we see so many challenges facing people: of living in multicultural contexts or in contexts where there is violence and conflict; where they are trying to understand much better their relationship with wider society and with the state, and are thinking how they can engage in acting on the problems and the challenges that they face on a daily basis, either individually or collectively.
My reason for wanting to see an integration of those ideas in the curricula of universities is to enable people to learn in a way that is different from simply being passive recipients of preformed ideas. For me, education is about learning and learning is about change. So where we see the need for social change, for human and social development, which really is rooted in issues of rights, power and voice of people, then I think it is absolutely necessary for higher education to actually build the curricula upon these issues, not just to add them but actually to integrate them and use them as foundations for learning and teaching.