This new book, which is available here, has just been produced by long-time CPN member Professor Franziska Trede in collaboration with Dr Celina McEwen from The Education for Practice Institute at Charles Sturt University (CSU).
The book examines how the role and identity of universities are increasingly affected by current worldwide social trends towards globalisation, digitalisation, and an emphasis on individualism.
Professor Trede, Co-Director of the Institute, said these changes have led to universities being positioned in a force field of competing interests, and the book discusses growing global trends and their associated tighter connections between university education and the labour market.
“The book is designed to prepare practitioners for uncertain future practices and to thoughtfully understand and act on social, cultural and political aspects of professional practice in a society that is increasingly complex,” Professor Trede said. The deliberate professional is someone who is aware of what is probable, possible and impossible to happen in a given context.
“We felt compelled to write this book to redress the balance of possibilities for university education in times where cost efficiency, accreditation, mobility, international competition, digitalisation, privatisation and commercialisation feature high ̶ and in their view, well above pedagogy and citizenship ̶ on most university agendas.
“We understand that these elements might include positive change, but we are also aware that they are implemented in response to the current global trend towards redefining the socio-economic relevance of universities according to a dominant neoliberal ideology that tends to place market interests above common good interests, such as equality, equity, social justice and moral responsibility,” Professor Trede said.
“The idea of the ‘deliberate professional’ was also inspired by our own empirical research in professional practice and professional learning, and the questions that have emerged from some of our findings.
“For example, as part of one research project on cultural ways of knowing in clinical practice we found clinicians who were unable to answer questions about their professional practice beyond their technical and scientific knowledge because they had not considered them.”
In another instance, while researching assessment experiences on placement, the researchers encountered a student who had fair self-insights and was humble as a novice student practitioner, but questioned whether he will ever feel certain about what he knows and does? This led them to question, where do his assumptions about right and wrong practices come from? Whose responsibility is it to encourage him to question these assumptions?
Professor Trede noted another study that explored the discourse of professionalism in professional entry courses. An academic who coordinated clinical placements observed that, in his experience, clinical supervisors are very reluctant to complain about students’ professional behaviour. The academic understood that it is difficult for clinical supervisors to raise issues of inappropriate student behaviour relating to professional and moral dimensions. It was much easier to raise issue with measurable technical skills.
“This raised several questions for us,” Professor Trede said. “How do you make sure academics do not leave it to the last moment to open up discussions about students’ professional behaviour? How can discussions between academics and supervisors be steered to address moral and professional practice issues?
“Thus, in a university landscape that needs to comply with graduate learning outcomes and competence achievements, it is difficult to argue for and sustain pedagogical approaches motivated by a desire to contribute to the public good or develop responsible global citizenship that engage students in complexities, ambiguities, diversity, and uncertainties of future practices.”