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Universities and a Human Development Ethics: a capabilities approach to curriculum


Melanie Walker, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa,


This article takes up the challenge of curriculum change in relation to the contested purposes of universities. It argues for an expansive, public good understanding, rather than the thin market exchange norms which currently drive higher education policies. The paper suggests that a human capital approach to curriculum is then insufficient to capture the full range and potential of a university curriculum. Instead, an approach to curriculum based on human development and capabilities formation is advanced as offering a richer perspective on what it means to be human and hence on the kinds of graduates universities should educate. Some implications for teaching, learning and assessment are outlined and a framework to design and operationalise a human development approach to curriculum is proposed.