Transforming Academia: The Role of Education

Joakim Juhl*, Anders Buch

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Scientific research is usually presented as the driver that provides progress and meaning to the academic ecosystem. Higher education on the other hand, is typically imagined as something that naturally follows scientific research. In the academic ecosystem, education often retains a more marginalized position than scientific research and in many of the predominant accounts of the academic ecosystem it is even neglected. As a result, higher education and teaching tends to be treated as duty work that retracts resources away from research. In response to such accounts the present article proposes an alternative perspective in which higher education can assume a proactive role that affects institutions’ research. The article presents a case that demonstrates how social scientists at the Technical University of Denmark, in response to new demands for autonomous economy within Danish universities, invented the controversial, yet successful, ‘Design and Innovation’ engineering program. Design and Innovation’s controversial curricular composition brought together: creativity, social awareness, and product innovation and heralded the salvation for the declining status of engineering in Danish higher education. The article contributes to contemporary discussions on transformations within the university system by illustrating educational development as a transformative practice whereby the value and purpose of scientific disciplines get rearticulated in conversation with contemporary understandings of social needs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Philosophy and Theory
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)803-814
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • higher education
  • engineering education
  • reform
  • innovation
  • sociotechnical imaginaries
  • co-production

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