The situations that lead to the idea or necessity of the EUROFACULTY ’model’ are to be found in the collapse of the Soviet Union. For the two academic subjects concerned, economy and law, this had dramatic consequences. The immediate need was to make some changes in the syllabus (German: Kanon) of the subjects, their content.
The need to reform the didactical approaches in these subjects was also present, but whether this was as immediate as the content-reform or not will be discussed later.
Concerning the content change in economy, this had to reflect the transition towards a market economy.
The new subjects within the science of economy cannot be understood simply as a replacement of old content with new. The task was much more difficult, because there was a need for a new way of thinking.
Universities are rather stable organisations, and to some extent distant from the society they are supposed to serve. The need for new economic knowledge and thinking was not automatically reflected in the teaching of the subject. Of course, it could not be. Who should teach, who should write the new textbooks, from where should come the computer programs that reflected not only the market economy, but also the reality and traditions of Russia?
The EuroFaculty ’model’ was needed as a tool for searching a solution to these problems, as least as a first step along new lines.
In law, there was an analogue situation. Just as was the case in economy, the Russian legal system and laws had to be developed and run as part of both new realities in Russia, and the emerging global society, with all its legal implications.
The problem here was the same. A set of new laws is decided in a proper way, but the making of laws does not by itself produce a scientific basis for the teaching of a new juridical content in the established institutes. Who should teach? From where are the textbooks to come?
Parts of the EuroFaculty approach could in principle be applied to all subjects, but it is difficult to see that the need in mathematics or physics was just as urgent as in economy and law. For some educations, however, it could be argued that they were in heavy need of a ’EUROFACULTY push’ in order to bring competence in accordance with the new realities. It is outside the scope of the EUROFAN Project to go into a deeper analysis of this. It suffices to say that the selection of the two educations, economy and law to be the ’targets’ of the EUROFACULTY approach in Kaliningrad seems to be highly reasonable and justified.
There are also reasons to believe that the feeling of the ’urgent need’ was part of the motivation that carried the EUROFACULTY Project to its success.
On the other hand, this way of reasoning is only valid for the content of the education in economy and law, and not for the other objectives of the EUROFACULTY Project concerning the didactical matters. There was not the same urgency to change the pedagogical everyday life in the two included Euro Faculties. In principle, one could have changed the content, but kept the old ways of teaching and learning.
The main reason behind the success in fulfilling the didactical objectives of the EUROFACULTY Project was simply that it was decided to include this in the project plan. To be explicit: One could have decided to teach both ’new law’ and ’new economy’ by the same teachers and the same methods, without training the teachers or introducing new ways of lecturing, project work and so on.
Against that background it must be said that it was a good decision not only to address the issue of content, but also to include the need to change didactical issues in the EUROFACULTY Project.
It is necessary to say this, because I was confronted with the belief that the change in pedagogics was a consequence of the change of content. In my view, it was the result of a decision, and a good decision.
THE ROLE OF ADMINISTRATIVE/POLITICAL AUTHORITIES IN EDUCATION.
On the problem with authorisation.
If an institute or another part of an academic institution develops a special profile, special considerations must be made. The problem of academic diversity, specialisation and autonomy versus central government and international standardisation represent a vast area for disputes. Here, this problem will be given some consideration because it was central for the EUROFACULTY Project.
To change the profile of an academic unit can be more or less difficult depending upon many different factors. These difficulties are often shared by the central authorities and the academic unit, but may be perceived as a conflict between them.
Even where there is academic freedom to change the profile of institutes or whole universities this may be prevented if the changes have bearings upon recognition of examinations.
The state must be seen as the protector of the citizens and different interests in the country. It may be seen as a guarantee for users or ‘consumers’ of educational products, that is to say candidates who get their authorisation to perform different tasks. An example from everyday life: In some countries, you should not go to the nearest shop to ask a ’plumber’ to renovate your bathroom. If, there later on, is a leak, the insurance will not cover the expenses if the plumber had no authorisation.
At the same time, the state has to regulate the quality of educational products demanding certain standards be fulfilled before authorisation can be given to the candidates. This authorisation is regulated in many different ways. Accordingly, neither the representative of the state nor the institutes nor the universities can change this at will. (’Bologna’ is a part of this issue).
Some remarks on bureaucracy.
Why is it necessary to say this here? The answer is that that there may be a conflict between the academic interests and the state administration, and one may get the impression that the academic side does not always fully understand the problem faced by the state administration. In any case, there are findings that support the assumption that this has been an issue in the EUROFACULTY Project. In discussions, some of the participants have indicated that ’there were problems with the ministry’. The context and what was said gave the impression that there were ’two opposite sides’, or ’disagreements’, implying that the problems for the ministry were not fully understood. In some cases, this was expressed as a conflict between the academic world and the ’bureaucrats’. Of course, there are people working in the ministries that are more ’bureaucratic’ than others, but this may stem more from pure rationality than from personality.
(The writer of this report is no bureaucrat by nature, but if he were to have worked in the Russian ministry of education in those years, when ’Bologna’ had not only to be formally adopted, but also to be implemented, he would have been terrified that one day he should find the proposals and plans for the EUROFACULTY Project on his desk. He could have resorted to ’bureaucracy’ not because he was against the EUROFACULTY Project, but because he had to protect himself from being overburdened.)
It should be understood that the state representatives clearly had so much to do that it had to take time before the EUROFACULTY Project could be perceived by them as a contribution to meet the challenges of the educational reforms, both the implementation of ’Bologna’ and a reform of the pedagogical everyday life in Russia. The implication should not be accepted that there had been a real conflict between a hesitating, slow and rather uninterested Ministry of Education and a reform-willing and impatient academic/administrative community working for the launching of the EUROFACULTY Project.
Some of the members of the academic/administrative community that were eager to start and get moving with the EUROFACULTY Project seem to have underestimated the problems and challenges the project created within the central authorities. They were in some cases unaware of the problems that have lined the road leading to the present situation in higher education in other countries.
A small glimpse to illustrate this ’history’:
Law: After the war, the education of lawyers in the Bundesrepublik was regulated by one common law. It was difficult if not impossible to carry out educational experiments in the different German countries. (Bundersländern). It was in fact not permitted before 1972, through the ‘Experimentierklausel’.
On several occasions I found myself confronted with attacks upon ‘bureaucracy’ during the work with the EUROFACULTY Project. I am not convinced that these attacks were always justified. On the contrary, I have a feeling that some of these attacks can be traced back to a ‘culture’ in Russian and Soviet society, and that this ‘discourse’ blocks an understanding of how a society has been regulated. If Russian participants in future projects should lament over ‘bureaucracy’ in the belief that this is no problem in other countries, (or in the EU), this may be counter productive and block cooperation.
There are some indications that the proposal and the plan for the EUROFACULTY project were not presented in the best way to the ministry. It was formulated and written in a rather impersonal, ’bureaucratic’ way that could not be expected to raise enthusiasm or bring the project into the front line of the minds of the responsible people in the ministry.
In the planning of Roskilde University Centre, this did not happen because there were close personal contacts between the planners and the visionaries behind Roskilde and the people working in the ministry. Of course there were the official letters and documents, but there were also other documents that described the challenges and promises of the new educational thinking behind the Roskilde ’model’. These documents were in truth neither academic nor administrative, but rather described in a vivid manner how the new pedagogical everyday life was intended to be. These factors contributed to the ’selling’ of the Roskilde ’model’ to the responsible people in the Danish authorities for educational planning.
Of course, this example should not be over-interpreted. Denmark is a small country. For this period of time, 1968-72, there was just one major experiment in process and just one new university in the country. This is as far removed from the realities in Russia as one can get. On the other hand, it may be said that the ideas behind the EUROFACULTY Project could have been communicated better to the responsible people in the Russian ministry.
As far as is known, the cooperation between the ministry and the planners of the EUROFACULTY Project was accelerated.
It seems as there was some ’pressure’2 put upon the ministry in order to get the green light for the EUROFACULTY Project. This had partly its roots in experience from earlier projects like TEMPUS, showing that there is a difference between ratification and implementation of an agreement. The international community had also made a general recommendation to Russian authorities that they adopt usual, international procedures shortening the time between ratification and implementation. In this case, one cannot speak about ’ratification and implementation’ in a strict sense, but findings indicate that this general ’pressure’ played a certain role for the EUROFACULTY Project. It has also been indicated that the cooperation of the Foreign Ministry in Moscow played some role, but further details are not known.
There are reasons to believe that it was not pressure, but personal attention in the ministry that played the decisive role, and that this must be considered to be a central factor behind the EUROFACULTY Project itself. Had it not started, there would have been no success at all.
It may simply be said that the cooperation between the Kaliningrad ’projectors’ and the ministry was handled in a good way, preventing discrepancies that could have escalated to become conflicts or delays that could have jeopardized the project.
Proper credit should be given to all parts and people who were involved in this process.
In future projects or development work, it seems wise not to neglect the task of making sure that the central authorities understand not only the organisation or economics of a project, but also the intentions behind it. This must be communicated in such a way that the essential message can be understood and interpreted in a broader frame, being in concordance with general educational policy. One must understand that bureaucracy is a necessary part of all societies, and that the responsibility of all ’bureaucrats’ is not to be against reforms or development.
Against this background it seems wise to consider this ’human dimension’ of all educational planning, and give proper considerations to it in the communication ’upward’. Both factual information has to be given, and also ’understanding’ of what the proposal or the case is about. One may try to be ’pedagogical’ in making the people working in the administration understand and pay proper attention.
In this context, it seems wise to consider the experience from Roskilde, where the prerequisite for the acceptance of the rather radical educational model that was planned could be found in this ’understanding of what it was about’.
In educational evaluation, this aspect is important. If you write a very correct analysis of an educational experiment, containing facts, figures, and tables describing the process and results, the reader may get no misleading information. On the other hand, the pedagogical everyday life in the experiment is not understood. Therefore, some evaluators prefer the ’portrait’ or ’illuminative’ evaluation approach. This approach could just as easily be utilised as part of the strategy to secure acceptance or support for an educational innovation.
NEEDS IN SOCIETY.
University and neighbourhood.
The relationship between a university and its neighbourhood is very complex, and can be treated in almost lyrical terms with words that have very little significance or bearing upon reality. In this context, it seems necessary to illuminate the challenge with the help of some glimpses into a pedagogical approach.
A university does not simply consist of buildings with people inside. It represents a culture, some values, some traditions and some demands. It is not for everyone to yearn to become a member of the university community. Even if one could remove all economic and physical barriers like distance, many people would hesitate to go in for an academic career. Research says that even if these barriers are removed, there are other, cultural and social factors influencing recruitment.
University and region/society.
The university in Kaliningrad is part of the region and its development. It is of crucial importance to investigate the possibilities and mechanisms that can make this partnership beneficial for both the university and the surrounding society. Lyricism is not enough.
One issue of interest for the EUROFAN Project was the discussion of this relationship. On asking the participants if they believed that the surrounding society played any role for the success of the EUROFACULTY Project, the answers were in the following direction:
’The innovation came at a very favourable time, the time or the society demanded the innovation.’
These answers indicated a feeling that the EUROFACULTY Project and the included innovations were supported by the society because they met some demands or needs in society, not only in Russia as a whole, but especially in the Kaliningrad region. On the other hand, it has been difficult to get any exact information on how this happened, or what mechanisms had played a role.
If we consider the curriculum change and the new didactical thinking as a result of changes and needs in the society, we miss the point. Education, whether we consider its organisation or content, is never a mechanical reflection of the surrounding society. The educational world, including its political superstructures, is living a life of its own. True, the barriers between society and education may be more or less penetrable; that is, ’information’ on changes in society that may lead to changes in the educational system is never transmitted from society through the walls surrounding the educational system as pure facts. Instead, discovered educational needs in society have to be carried to the educational system by somebody who has an interest in doing so.
This is only a prerequisite. A person, say a member ’from society’ in the planning board of a university will not succeed in her or his efforts to change the content of teaching or the pedagogical everyday life of students or staff by just telling the other members of the board ’what is going on out there’. Both content and teaching/learning culture is determined by traditions and the interests of the carriers of these traditions.3
In Germany, and supposedly in all countries, human pain is pandemic. Pain has both a personal and an economical dimension. In Germany the expenditure for medicine to alleviate pain takes a toll of about 29 billion Euros per annum. This is more than the expenditure on all other medicines. Thus, it must be permitted to say that there exists a documented and well-known need in society. It we ask how this need is reflected in the medical curricula, we are told that ’pain’ is not a compulsory theme.
So, the conclusion is this: A documented and well-known need in society does not automatically trigger a change in the relevant education. Somebody has to know the fact and work (sometimes fight) for the educational change to take place.
With these considerations and the example in mind, we must admit that we cannot and should not rely upon simplifications, saying something along the lines that the EUROFACULTY Project became a success simply because it met some ’demands from society’. It would be far more correct to say that the EUROFACULTY experiment was launched, designed and performed in a specific way because there were people with specific ideas who both had the will to and the opportunity to fight for their ideas.
For the time being it is impossible to know in detail in what ways and how correctly these people interpreted the needs of society and ’translated’ this knowledge into the curriculum construction described as the explicit and implicit goals of the EUROFACULTY plan and reality. This detailed knowledge of the planning process is of course completely out of the scope of this project, but the perspective has to be mentioned.
The EUROFACULTY Project as a response to the global and regional economy.
The EUROFACULTY Project must be seen as an adaptation of the Russian society to the new global economy. Sometimes, an adaptation like this is only verbal, consisting in political declarations saying that ’we must improve our educational system because international and individual competition favours countries and individuals with high competence’. Nobody would disagree, but this does not automatically mean that specific actions are taken, and by no means can one derive from the political slogans what actions have to be taken. If this had been the case, we would have seen a world with comparatively similar education systems in many countries, since we all live in the same global economy, competing in the same arena.
There are reasons to believe that some people had some interests or opinions, formulated them as ideas, and worked them through the system with some labels attached saying that society demands so and so changes to be undertaken. It is in principle impossible to say whether new educational ideas reflect personal interests and/or genuine correct interpretations of the needs in society. A member of a planning board may say that competence in foreign languages is important, because this is important in society. Another member of the same planning board may say the same, not because he really believes this, but because the person in question wants more money to the relevant institute where his wife happens to be the director. There is nothing wrong in this. Everybody is fighting for their own interests, including both their own subjects and the traditions governing them.
I do not say that I have found any misuse of this strategy in the EUROFACULTY Project. What I say is simply that it is extremely difficult to interpret ‘needs in society’ and transform these needs into a curriculum in a way that prevents personal interests of any kind to play a role in the process.
The next, global economy.
The important thing is that what Hawken calls the ’next economy’, consisting of a transition from mass economy to a ’competence-economy’ does not take place solely as a global process. When we say that ’business is always local’, we do not always have a small, narrow place in mind, like a specific factory. We think on ’places’ in the meaning of an area. An area is seen as a broader geographical unit, or a ’cluster’, where different components interact.
It may be considered to be a paradox that global economy leads to a new importance for local economy, but it is necessary to understand this not as collision between two opposite developments. Instead, some writers consider the development of local clusters as a prerequisite for success in the global competition.
It is of course far beyond the scope of this investigation to dig deep into this issue. Here it seems proper to emphasize that the importance of a cluster can be considered as part of a learning process. Some writers use the metaphoric expression of ’learning regions’ (Lernende Regionen).
A ’cluster’ may be considered to be a ’learning region’ where the educational system is considered to be an important part of a network. Seen in this perspective, one may be tempted to state that the proposal to start the EUROFACULTY Project in Kaliningrad laid the ground for success because it was an integrated part of the decision, adopted by the State Duma in 1995 to make the Kaliningrad region the ’special economic zone’.
In a pedagogical perspective, the main objectives of the EUROFACULTY Project were completely in line with this development. That is, the innovators who designed the educational component of the grand schedule of the special economic zone in the Kaliningrad region did this in complete concordance with the underlying concept of cluster development.
The challenge is, however, that there is a gap between lyrics and reality. It is the task of educational planning, supported by pedagogics, to design the step to bridge the gap and to build it with the help of proper means and tools.
The point is that the educational design could have been very different, and surely would have been so, had other people, with other interests and priorities made it. As was the case, the formulation of pedagogical focus for the project went hand in hand with fundaments of what I call ’the competence cluster economy’.
What I say is simply that there are no algorithms or standard procedures for establishing the necessary cooperation between university and surrounding society. The chosen way depends upon the combination of two different strategies, research and teaching/learning. In this context, the expression ‘teaching/learning’ should in no way be interpreted in the direction of ‘content’ as part of an open curriculum. Instead, it must be seen in the light of more elaborate pedagogical tools and research. One must see the pedagogical strategy in the light of ‘socialisation’, ‘habitus’, ‘qualification analysis’, ‘practice shock’ et cetera. The meaning behind these expressions is that students do not get the full personal understanding of needs and life in a modern society by just being told. They have to experience these things as part of their learning process.
Reading documents from EU on the problem of bringing universities in contact with society, one may get the impression that pedagogics is not considered to be a useful tool at all. Focus is on research and scientific cooperation. There is nothing wrong in that. The problem is that pedagogics is left out.
In the EUROFACULTY Project, the explicit focus seems to have been on research, in line with the described European initiative to promote cooperation between research activities in academic institutions and society. An example may be found in the contribution to the closing conference of the EUROFACULTY Project in October 2007. In his informative overview of ‘The university as a partner for regional, national and international cooperation in research and education’, professor Manfred Horvat described how the EU works along a line where science and research are in focus, In my view, this strategy needs to change, or at least to be supplemented with a pedagogical approach.
The problem deserves a closer look.
There is a nice example in the modern history of education that has relevance for the EUROFACULTY Project in economics. As the Harvard School of Economics had an educational reform during the 50ties it had picked up some signals from the educationalists. These signals pointed towards the use of ’contextual learning’. Instead of giving an encyclopaedic education on all topics in the subject, they introduced contexts, expressed as ’cases’ that had to be treated by different scientific theories, models or perspectives. This was, in principle what was attempted in Germany, when rebuilding their educational system during the reconstruction period after the war. The foremost exponent for this development in Germany was Martin Wagenschein, with physics as his competence area. Both the case method and Wagenschein's approach, ’learning through examples’, were criticised for being too academic, neglecting the necessity for both the ’cases’ and ’examples’ to be anchored in real problems in society. This became extremely important for the development of project orientation. In Germany, Oskar Negt developed Wagenschein's thoughts in the direction of ‘social relevance’.
In USA, the Harvard School of Economics was celebrated as the most exclusive and best institution for studying economics. Therefore they could ignore the criticism from outside saying that the candidates from Harvard were excellent on a theoretical level, but that they did not know how the theories worked in practice. The candidates were also criticised for an arrogance that made them incapable of understanding the importance of real human relationship within companies and organisations. Thus, Harvard (in 1993) decided to abandon the case method and to start with ’the project method’.
Pedagogics as a tool for cooperation between university and society.
One must ask how pedagogics can be used as a tool to enhance the relationship and cooperation between the university and the society in the Kaliningrad region.
What were the important pedagogics objectives to be achieved in the EUROFACULTY Project?
Above all, there are formulations that states that one aim is the transition from ’passive learning’ to ’active learning’, in some cases interpreted as ‘project organised learning’,
If we look at this, it should be remembered that these issues were central in the change in educational thinking and planning after or in connection with ’1968’. In a combined effort, both the student movement and the educational planners aimed at breaking the academic isolation from society. One of the central thoughts was that higher education should consider its responsibility towards society. From the standpoint of the new student generation, many recruited from the working class, education was felt to be a question of acquiring relevant qualification for jobs and work in society.
They did not seek higher education in order to become ’cultivated’ (kulturelle Bildung). This tendency was formulated as a demand that both the form of learning and the content of the curriculum should reflect ’relevance to society’. (Denmark: ’Samfundsrelatering’, Germany: ’Praxisbezug’ or ’Gesellschaftlicher Relevanz’) Bringing the outside society ‘into the textbooks’ or informing the students about this society could partly have achieved this. This would have been the same strategy as bringing ‘women’ and ‘female perspectives’ into the traditional textbooks, and demanding that the students should learn the texts, but not act for either women or feminism in society. As it turned out, the ‘1968-way of thinking’ felt that this relevance to society should be a part of a more total educational reform. As we know, this reform aimed at breaking the ’isolation’ of higher education and research from society. This was formulated in demands for a transition from passive learning to active learning, including the participation of students in the leadership of the universities.
One of the most important forces pushing in this direction was the introduction of project-organised learning. Here, the important thing was not to change from ’academic-abstract lectures’ to ’academic-abstract projects’, but to promote projects that had relevance to society, including focus upon women’s perspectives, poverty, the environment etc.
Projects may of course be organised in many different ways, but if they aim at bringing academic theory and the real world together as a student qualification, the only possibility seems to be ’local projects’. In Norway, the striving to bring local society into school is called ‘local orientation’ (lokalorientering), a concept that was developed more within the frame of traditional learning strategy than in connection to the new ’project orientation’. There is no need for either theoretical reflections or empirical investigations to see that if projects should constitute a real part of the pedagogical everyday life of a university, the only way is to use the local surroundings as a field for projects. For budgetary reasons (in time and money) the most effective way for carrying out learning projects is through cooperation between the university and the neighbourhood.
In Roskilde, at the very beginning after its upstart, one student group proposed that they should learn chemistry, pollution and working conditions by visiting a factory for plastic kitchen products. This factory was located only a few hundred meters away from the campus. It was only a short walk from the premises of the university to the factory, where they were well received. In my contact with the factory I later discovered that the people there had been positively surprised. They had heard and read about this ’project university’ aiming at contact with ’society’, but it had not occurred to them that they were part of this innovation, and possibly could profit from it.
So, my hypothesis is that one of the factors behind the success in Kaliningrad was that there was consistency in the educational thinking and planning. The fundamental aims of the project were both the establishment of a ’cluster competence economy’ in the region, and a consistent pedagogical model. These factors were in mutual harmony.
But (there is always a ’but’) this does not mean that the aims of either the prosperous economic zone in the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia or the ’project organisation’ of the teaching/learning activities at the university have been obtained. Of course they have not, simply because these objectives can never be fulfilled. They represent challenges that never end.
The important thing is that the process has started and that it continues.
Future development and research.
As already indicated, the EUROFACULTY Project seems to have placed some focus upon cooperation between the surrounding society and the university in line with the European programmes. The aim is, of course, to proceed in that direction, and to develop approaches that reflect both the specific challenges and possibilities of the Kaliningrad region and Russia. It is to be hoped that both research and development on this cooperation can also include both interest and resources in pedagogics. There are reasons to believe that the most effective way for the development of cooperation between research and society goes through the door of pedagogics. Pupils in schools and students in higher education who get their theoretical qualifications as part of learning projects concerning problems in society may be both more motivated and competent in relevant matters than people educated in ’the old way’.
In this development and research, one should not focus solely upon cognitive learning like subject, theories, models etc. The social and personal perspective must not be neglected. If you, as a student, enter a company or an organisation in order to learn through an educational project, you will surely make contacts with people whom you would not have met otherwise. You will gain insight in relationships, consideration, working habits, language, organisation etc that could never be brought to you through lectures or theoretical textbooks. Above all, you will learn how to learn. All this might be achieved in a much more impressive and lasting way than through ’old pedagogics’. At least, project orientation promises that students who have learned through projects are not so prone as students from the ’old school’ to the danger of ’practice shock’ when entering ’society’ after they have finished their education.
During my work with the EUROFAN Project I have obtained some information pointing at a possible indicator for success. It seems that some teachers, who normally would have left the university, have stayed on, even if they could have obtained a better economic situation in other jobs in the private sector. I have not carried out any interviews on this topic, but if it is true, it is important. The explanation may be that if you are part of an innovation, you get closer to (some) of your colleagues, There is a development of a ’we-feeling’ that may be felt as more important for life quality than economy. From my earlier experience as an evaluator of Roskilde University Centre I can verify that this ’we-feeling’ was extremely important for the inhabitants during some harsh times. It seems, if I am right, that the increase of internal social contacts was not particularly stated in the objectives for the EUROFACULTY Project, but that it may nevertheless be considered as an important factor behind the success.
The hope is that this ’we-feeling’ through internal social and scientific contact within the university will not only improve the development of a good academic habitus, but also contribute to the we-feeling in the Kaliningrad region, in Russia and in the rest of Europe. I see pedagogics as a possible tool to be used in this endeavour.
RESISTANCE TO THE EUROFACULTY PROJECT.
The great physicist Max Planck once said that, in physics it is sometimes impossible to convince colleagues through discussion or reasoning. You have to await their death. Then you may take over their students.
Lasson, in an introduction to Hegel, said that Hegel had, through his writings, killed several of his colleagues. The problem is, says Lasson that they wandered in the corridors of the university as if nothing had happened.
Disputes, and sometimes the nasty habit of ’killing’ colleagues seem to be an inherent part of the history of academic life. Reform and change of higher education sometimes takes the character of battle between ’support’ and ’resistance’. It would have been very surprising if that had not happened at IKSUR.
In fact, there was resistance.
Unfortunately, due to lack of time and contacts, I did not have the opportunity to have any discussions with the opponents of the EUROFACULTY Project within the university.
As far as I know the resistance was not broken. The problem seemed to have been solved in a most friendly way, leaving the opponents more or less continuing without being too much affected by the EUROFACULTY Project.
In my view, it seems to be a good ad hoc solution, but still it should not be recommended.
First of all, all members of a faculty have competence, and competence in a subject should never be neglected, even if there is disagreement on how the teaching shall be organised and performed.
In an educational experiment, one should ask for loyal cooperation just as this may be done in physics. In an experiment in physics, for example in seeking for new particles, one cannot ask the participants to decide whether they will cooperate or not, depending upon their belief in the undiscovered particle or not. (Modern example; The Higgs particle). You simply expect and demand each expert to do their job, joining the rest of the team regardless of their personal opinion. Then you perform the experiment and let the findings decide who was right. This should, as far as possible, be done in pedagogics too.
If I were an expert in a specific area of pedagogics, and my institution had decided to enter into an educational experiment, I should be happy if they came to me and said: ’We know you are against this experiment and that you do not believe in it but we need your expertise. Therefore we expect you to take part and do your job to the best if your ability.’ My answer would have been this: ’Thank you for your trust and your confidence in my competence. I am going to show you what Saint-Simon called ’provisional confidence’.
I would have added that of course I expected the experiment to be properly evaluated. The evaluation could possibly have demonstrated that I was wrong. Then I had to draw the consequences. If the evaluation showed that my colleagues were wrong, I would of course expect them to draw the consequences. Otherwise, I would have felt my provisional confidence to be misused.
The ‘Bologna4 experiment’.
Now, the question is what an evaluation of the EUROFACULTY Project would have demonstrated. There is a possibility that the conclusion could have been that the introduction of ’Bologna’ was not so unproblematic as it seemed some years ago. The evaluation could have taken new research and debate into account and pointed to the rising criticism, for example in Germany5.
This is not to say that the adoption of ’Bologna’ was wrong. What I say is that the Bologna process probably will have to be corrected. These corrections may, in Germany as in Kaliningrad, pay some tribute to the critics of the Bologna model. This is of course speculation, but it may serve the purpose to illustrate and to support the recommendation for future EUROFACULTY Projects in Russia, that one should seek as far as possible to avoid any split between ’supporters’ and ’non-supporters’.
My recommendation is that the almost inevitable conflict between the supporters and the non-supporters of educational reforms and experiments should be taken very seriously. If not, the conflict may escalate and threaten the need for pedagogical innovation and the need for cooperation between people with different competences.
Anyway, it seems to have been one of the factors behind the success of the EUROFACULTY Project was that the resistance against it did not escalate, and (as far as I know), the problems were solved in relative harmony.
The removal of non-relevant courses from curricula.
The change of study plan, here described as ’curriculum’ included change in courses given. Some courses could be removed without crossing the limits of experimentation given by the Russian Ministry of Education. Other courses could not be removed, because this was not permitted.
From a pedagogical point of view, the question: ’what should be included in a curriculum?’ is a very tricky one and not so simple as sometimes seems to be believed.
For higher education, there is always the mystery problem what one may and should expect from the new students arriving from primary education. Why is it so that history is a subject in school and not law? It may be argued that if there were any reasonable criteria for deciding what should belong to primary education and what to higher education, these criteria might result in a situation that all courses in history in primary education could be replaced by courses in law. If a criterion is that law has an overall importance for all individuals in society, this could be reasonable. Since illness, hospitals and death is an important part of the lives of all of us, this could be a good reason for saying that medicine should be included as an important subject in primary education with the inevitable result that another subject has to be removed.
The problem is that the decisions included in curriculum planning are to some extent made without reference to the real needs for qualifications for both individuals and society.
If a curriculum reform should be based upon an analysis of the needed qualifications in a profession, one could argue that since research demonstrates that ‘personality’ plays a role, every curriculum for educating judges should include teaching on ‘the personality of judges’. In medicine, there would have been a ‘subject’ called ‘the personality of surgeons’.
This illustrates that the removal of courses, and vice versa the inclusion of courses is not a simple task.