How can universities contribute to the common good?

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The UK higher education system has become increasingly competitive and stratified prompting calls for a reclaiming of the civic role of universities. This paper argues that, if HE is to reclaim its civic function then civic engagement needs to move beyond being a separate strand of activity for universities, instead becoming a guiding principle. This requires an institution-wide commitment. The paper describes a model developed by a Scottish university to support, recognise and embed civic engagement within the curriculum and wider student experience as part of its core mission. The design and delivery of this development are described and early indicators of its efficacy are provided. Findings indicate that it is possible for universities to operationalise a civic mission by focusing on the curriculum as the mechanism through which to highlight and embed common good attributes. The model described could be replicated in other higher education institutions nationally and internationally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-131
Number of pages10
JournalPerspectives: Policy and Practice in Higher Education
Issue number4
Early online date21 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • higher education
  • civic engagement
  • common good
  • curriculum


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