2022 Abstracts Stage 3

A Philosophical Analysis on the Purpose of Higher Education- A Project Exploring the ‘Middle Ground’ Between the Demands of Employability on a Student and Their Ability to Flourish.

Grace Mills, 2022, Stage 3

This project explores the purpose of education with specific regard to the demands of employability on a student and their ability to flourish in higher education. The project discusses the importance of employability within the current education system, providing examples of the skills taught in universities that aid students vocationally. Drawing from philosopher Jean- François Lyotard, it is explained how he suggested that the meaning of knowledge had shifted in postmodernism. Due to economic and social change, higher education became increasingly commodified and there was an emphasis on skills and performativity in universities. The project subsequently explores the importance of personal flourishment in higher education, focusing on John Dewey and Aristotle. Understanding higher education in terms of flourishment creates an environment that supports students in becoming happy, successful and well-rounded individuals at university and beyond. First hand research was conducted, in the form of interviews, to help distinguish a middle ground. It is concluded that the demands of employability and personal flourishment in higher education are essential for individuals to become sustainably employable. This middle ground suggests that a need for both employability and flourishment is crucial in a student’s life to help them, and consequently society, reach their full potential in the 21st century.

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