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Title: Excellence in critical condition : the current state of English higher education
Author: Hewitt, Desmond
ISNI:       0000 0004 5915 1663
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2015
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This thesis argues that excellence is emancipatory in the sense that it promotes individual and collective transformation and it traces this idealized concept back to Aristotle and the concept of eudaimonia (Aristotle: 2009). This is the idea that excellence promotes happiness and well-being; it enables human beings to flourish and live to their full potential. In short, the thesis is about the potential of higher education to transform lives, in particular those of young people. Thus the fundamental premise of the thesis is that a legitimating principle of English higher education is excellence defined as the Hellenic ideal and that excellence is emancipatory. The thesis operates from the perspective of Critical Theory and operationalizes the theories and concepts of Habermas. It argues that the political discourse of excellence – the economic imperative of competition - eclipses emancipatory excellence in discourse but that in the lifeworld of the university this transformational concept of higher education remains unaffected as a legitimating principle, despite recent government reforms. In a further subsidiary argument, the thesis argues that the emancipatory interests of the university, particularly those of social science are inextricably linked to those of wider society (Barnett: 1994; 2; Habermas: 1977; 1978; 1988) and that this critical normative claim can be realized in an ideal speech situation. The thesis argues that the ideal speech situation already exists in the scientific-public validation of Critical Theory geared at world construction (Strydom: 2011; 158) but that a space for a new discursive event exists in the wider public community of knowledgeable social agents (Bohman: 1999; 475; Nowotny: 1993; 308). This thesis is argued for using material from in-depth, semi-structured, conversation-led research interviews which were conducted with senior administrators, higher education policy specialists and academics across the English higher education sector.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB2300 Higher Education