Critical Capability Pedagogies and University Education



The article argues for an alliance of the capability approach developed by Amartya Sen with ideas from critical pedagogy for undergraduate university education which develops student agency and well being on the one hand, and social change towards greater justice on the other. The purposes of a university education in this article are taken to include both intrinsic and instrumental purposes and to therefore include personal development, economic opportunities and becoming educated citizens. Core ideas from the capability approach are outlined, with examples, before possible articulations of capability and Sen's notion of process freedom with critical pedagogy are investigated. It is argued that each approach has something to offer when brought alongside as ‘critical capability pedagogies’, which seek to enhance and expand student experiences of learning and their ‘valuable beings and doings’. Finally core capabilities in a university education are considered and some of the problems of domesticating the capability approach addressed.