Teacher education in the public university: the challenge of democratising knowledge production

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Universities around the world are held to be in crisis, but the public university is seen as the institution most at risk, with higher education’s role in the creation of the conditions for democracy under threat. Historically, the public university is a type of institution that has evolved to widen participation in postsecondary education at the same time that new kinds of publics (multiple, competing, and stratified) have, at least in part, been created through its work. The public functions of the university have included what Dewey (1927) referred to as the development of a ‘collective intelligence’ in society, but also the creation of the open social structures that permit the deliberative public discourse and flows of knowledge necessary for our democratic existence. Public universities can therefore be institutions of democratic education in the fullest sense (Gutmann, 1999), and the majority of institutions in North America and the United Kingdom were, until very recently, regarded as such – at least in ideal-type terms – whether the four-year colleges and research-intensive state universities in the United States or in the civic and modern universities that grew up in England through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Indeed, as Holmwood points out, until the last few years, the public functions of the university were explicit in higher education policy: in the United Kingdom, the Robbins Report of 1963 saw the universities as ‘serving democratic citizenship by improving debate and the capacities of citizens’ (Holmwood, 2011, p. 7), and the Dearing Report of 1997 argued the benefits of higher education went beyond individuals’ accumulation of social and cultural capital, but that the institutions were necessary to.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPedagogy in Higher Education
Subtitle of host publicationA Cultural Historical Approach
EditorsGordon Wells, Anne Edwards
Place of PublicationCambridge UK
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781139035699
ISBN (Print)9781107014657
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

Cite this