Negotiating a Covenantal Community Space in the Higher Education System in an Economically Globalizing Asian Society: A Hong Kong Reflection

By Simon S. M. Kwan.

Published by The Learner Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This article attempts to trace the changing landscape of the Hong Kong higher education since the 1980s with reference to the impact of global capitalism. Specifically, it describes how decentralization, privatization, and marketization are becoming popular measures in university governance; how strategies including quality assurance, performance evaluation, financial audit, corporate management, and market competition are being adopted to upgrade the performance of the higher education sector; how internationalization has become a keyword of the higher education institutions, and so on. Based on a Habermasian framework, this article analyses these phenomena together as a colonization of lifeworld. This has resulted in a higher education characterized by, to borrow a phrase from Richard Sennet, the corrosion of character. To counteract this trend, this article calls for a return to the conception of education as paideia, and argues that the Christian notion of a covenantal community can be evoked to substantiate this conception in the modern world. The reformed educational practice of the author’s Divinity School will be reviewed as an example. The significance of the present study lies in the fact that what the Hong Kong higher education is now experiencing is reflective of a global trend that is impacting many market-driven international cities.

Keywords: Hong Kong, Higher Education, Global Capitalism, Colonization of Life World, Corrosion of Character, Paideia, Covenantal Community

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp.39-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 594.874KB).

Prof. Simon S. M. Kwan

Associate Professor and Associate Director, Divinity School of Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Simon Shui-man KWAN is Associate Director and Associate Professor of the Divinity School of Chung Chi College, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was also Programme Coordinator/Director (2000-2005) of an Asian Theological Movement called The Programme for Theology and Culture in Asian and editor (2000-2005) of The Journal of Theologies and Cultures in Asia. His main research area is practical theology, which focuses on the interaction, actual and possible, between theology and different aspects of practical social life. Methodologically, it relies on a mutually critical correlation between theologies and the social sciences.

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