The flourishing and dehumanization of students in higher education

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An economic agenda, characterized by the mastery of subject knowledge or expertise, increasingly dominates higher education. In this article, I argue that this agenda fails to satisfy the full range of students’ aspirations, responsibilities and needs. Neither does it meet the needs of society. Rather, the overall purpose of higher education should be the morphogenesis of the agency of students, considered on an individual and on a collective basis. The article builds on recent critical realist theorizing to trace the generative mechanisms that affect the morphogenesis of such agency. I argue that reflexive deliberation shapes the agency of students as they engage in teaching–learning interactions. It may be possible to enhance the agency of students if approaches are used that consider curricular knowledge, the presence of supportive social relations and the dedication of students. The article offers ways to promote the flourishing of students rather than their dehumanization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)368-382
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Critical Realism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jul 2017


  • Reflexivity
  • university
  • student learning
  • teaching-learning interactions
  • curriculum
  • modus vivendi


Dive into the research topics of 'The flourishing and dehumanization of students in higher education'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this