Achieving values-led higher education for a socially just world

Year: 2019

Author: Owens, Alison, Nulty, Duncan

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Australian universities articulate graduate attributes that characterise graduates of their programs. At least one, often several, of these graduate attributes pertain to ethical behaviour and/or the affective domain contributing to graduate competence.Personal values are an important component of the affective domain and provide principles for behaviours that may be judged as ethical or unethical in a social context. Ethical or affective competence draws on personal values that are well-integrated with (and potentially transformed by) cognitive and procedural learning.The development or transformation of personal values through education is therefore critical to achieving a socially just world.As humanity faces increasingly complex and globalised challenges to sustainable living, the ‘giga-challenges’ (Jones & Millar, 2010) of climate change, energy depletion, migratory crises and terrorism, ethical global leadership has become more critically important than ever. As the educators of future leaders, university teachers are well-positioned to help develop such ethical graduates.Influential adult learning theorists emphasise the importance of the development of the affective domain to successful learning (e.g. Krathwohl et. al., 1964; Perry, 1975). While teachers in Australian schools have been provided key principles and resources to develop a national values education program in schools (MCEETYA 2005), an explicit focus on teaching for affective qualities is an underdeveloped focus in Universities and is often excluded from an already-crowded curriculum in an increasingly marketized sector. This AARE Roundtable addresses this issue through, firstly, exploring university teacher perceptions of the personal value(s) that they prioritise as most critical for their graduates relevant to the (affective) graduate attributes of their institution and their discipline. Secondly, participants will be asked to describe a brief scenario relevant to their discipline field where a graduate might demonstrate the relevant value(s).A guided discussion will then occur on the topic of teaching for affective development including consideration of the competing values of humanist and neo-liberal models for higher education. Pending an approved ethics application (ACU), the outcomes from the Roundtable exercises and discussion will inform a longer-term project intending to develop an inventory of personal values linked to graduate attributes explained/modelled through brief scenarios from discipline-based professional practice. This inventory will in turn inform the development of an open-access, self-assessment tool (and accompanying resources) to support the capacity of university teachers to identify, explain and develop in their students the personal values that are embodied in graduate attributes and which support social justice.