Graduate Attributes as Authentic Self-Realisation

By James Moir.

Published by The Learner Collection

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

Contemporary modernity has been referred to as an era authenticity in which subjectivity is not only defined in terms of autonomy but also in terms of the capacity of individuals to construct, create, define and position themselves in relation to others in terms of their own uniqueness. More recently, it has been argued that authentic self-realisation has become a powerful moral ideal conditioned by the introspective cultivation of the individual’s core. The socialized individual is, therefore, premised on an essentialist notion of self in which the continual cultivation of an inner impulse is the primary engine of performance. Considered in this way, authentic self-realisation is a lifelong process involving the continual manipulation of the individual’s core as an investment object through which added value is derived.
However, authentic self-realisation has also become an organised practical technique and institutional demand. It must be continuously staged in relation to the multifaceted and complex normative discourses that infuse the institutional life in contemporary society. Perhaps nowhere is this more apparent than in the trend of higher education towards personalisation of the curriculum. This is often associated with notions of motivation, personal development planning and the development of graduate attributes. The ideological undercurrent to this is a greater emphasis on the agency on the part of students in order to help them become adaptable and entrepreneurial graduates in the face of a rapidly changing globalised knowledge economy and society. The paper discusses the ways in which personalisation and graduate attributes are presented as central features of an over-arching normative discourse for legitimating the purpose of higher education as one preparation for this world through authentic self-realisation.

Keywords: Graduate Attributes, Personalisation, Authentic Self-Realisation

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 18, Issue 11, pp.33-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 786.250KB).

Dr. James Moir

Senior Lecturer in Sociology, School of Social and Health Sciences, Division of Sociology, University of Abertay Dundee, Dundee, Scotland, UK

Dr. James Moir is a senior lecturer in sociology at the University of Abertay Dundee (Scotland, U.K.) with a research interest in the application of discourse analysis in higher education policy. He is currently Senior Associate (Scotland) for the U.K. Higher Education Academy’s Centre for Sociology, Anthropology and Politics (C-SAP) and also the ‘First Year Experience’ Facilitator for the Scottish Enhancement of ‘Graduates for the 21st Century’ project.

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