The future of general education in mass higher education systems

Scott, Peter (2002) The future of general education in mass higher education systems. Higher Education Policy, 15(1), pp. 61-75. ISSN (print) 0952-8733


The argument presented in this article is two-fold. First, it acknowledges that there are multiple interpretations nested within the broad taxonomy of liberal education, Bildung and General Education - Elitist interpretations, radical interpretations, functional interpretations, post-modern interpretations. Secondly, it argues that these multiple interpretations, far from weakening the idea of general education, are evidence of its adaptability, resilience, and therefore, continuing relevance. General education, in all its forms, is needed even more in mass higher education than it was within elite university traditions. It is needed because the Expert and/or Professional Society which grew up in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries been overlaid (if not actually superseded) by new forms of social organisation - the Risk Society, the Informational Society (there are abundance of labels) characterised by novel and volatile configurations of technical skill, symbolic power and social status.

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