How do I engage in public social debates?
The macro context encompasses the regional or national context. At this societal level we encounter social, cultural, and political debates, which revolve around controversial topics. What is interesting about the macro context is the influence it has on the institutional and classroom context. More specifically how it can lead to institutionalisation by the government. This can have consequences for all other institutions, including higher education institutions.
It can be difficult to broach such complex debates in class. However, the public discourse can and does affect people – including students. Earlier engagements focused on ways in which teachers can hold space for such discussions. However, this engagement adds rules, regulations, and policies to the mix.
This engagement will allow you to reflect on the interplay between public social debates and what this means for institutions and individuals. Particularly, it invites you to think about how you navigate the complex tension between public discourse, regulations, and people affected by them. Before looking at concrete instances of such interactions, it is useful to expand on the macro context and what it exactly entails.
From the meta level or global perspective, one can see global trends in higher education that – in part at least – shape priorities, policies, and curricula. Examples of these can be seen in international collaborations such as mobility programs and interuniversity courses, but also other developments such as technological advancements, migration, and global social movements. The latter has given impetus to greater prioritisation of diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts on multiple levels. Many governments and higher education institutions have engaged in the process of providing an adequate policy response to these movements. Similarly, digitalisation impacts society in many ways. It has changed communication and social behaviour, democratised information, and facilitated expression and dissemination. It enhances accessibility and agency in many ways, while impeding accessibility and agency in many other ways. Digitalisation in general has also been subject to scrutiny because of the ways in which it can reproduce or exacerbate inequalities through artificial intelligence. Technological innovations have changed the way we organise higher education. As described in our Handbook of e-inclusion, technology use in education has the potential to enhance diversification and flexibility, but at the same time poses challenges in terms of safety and belonging. Such innovations have offered us the ability to adapt to different situations and equipped educators with tools to improve the educational experience of students and their diverse needs.