The role of the university is changing. For a number of years now, universities have shifted their teaching methodologies from content-based and domain-specific approaches to process-based and generic competency approaches to learning. It is now widely understood that the role of the university is to develop career individuals with ‘real-world’, transferable skills. Linear teaching of academic curricula is not considered as important as fostering the development of a wide range of core or key skills, often referred to as ‘graduate attributes’. How can universities however perform this social and economic function without sacrificing their traditional independence and the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake? ENCATC’s 18th Annual Conference from 6-8 October in Brussels will set out to answer this question and many others related to it.
Over the next ten years, the challenge for universities will be to align students’ and employers’ expectations. In order to train graduates for the employment market, what knowledge, competencies, and skills will it be important to include in university programmes? What will academics and trainers have to do to achieve the necessary capacity to deliver courses that are more tailored to the needs of employers? Through workshops and policy debates, these questions will be thoroughly discussed during the Conference.
In parallel with discussions of the learning process, the Conference also discussed the content of Cultural Administration programmes in universities. In the last 12 years there have been a number of guiding documents and major conferences initiated by UNESCO and others that have created new cultural and educational policy directions - from Stockholm in 1998 to Seoul 2010. These also include the adoption of the UNESCO Convention on the protection and the Promotion Diversity of Cultural Expressions 2005 and the World Conferences on Education for Sustainable Development. Each of these landmark events has provided an impetus to rethink what is taught in universities.
The Conference examined how these innovative policy directives have inspired and been acted upon by educators to create new programmes, courses and training methodologies. It explored how themes such as cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, cultural heritage for development, cultural creativity, cultural industries and strategies for effective arts education have been developed into courses.
For anyone working in higher education or in national and international institutions dealing with the challenges of training both knowledgeable and employable students, ENCATC’s 18th Annual Conference presented an ideal opportunity to meet professionals working in the same field. Participants at the Conference were able to get to the heart of the policy debate in Brussels, the heart of European decision making.