London Metropolitan University Research Institutes

Identity, citizenship and socio-moral excellence: the role of higher education

Author(s) Susana Gonçalves  
Publisher CiCe Publications  
Year 2005  
Editor A. Ross, Teaching Citizenship  
Language English  
Age group -  
This paper will analyse the connections between identity, citizenship and higher education and raise the following key question: how can we organise the college environment in such a way that it truly becomes a learning environment, fostering student excellence, intellectual sophistication, the moral self and democratic citizenship? A short review of empirical findings about identity, citizenship and socio-moral excellence leads us to identify how educational contexts contribute to foster excellence and the moral self. Ideally, higher education should be always conceived as a full cultural experience, where students find opportunities to improve their knowledge in different fields, as well as the motivation to be life-long multifaceted learners and develop a critical social consciousness (Martín, Estrada and Bara, 2002; Jennings, 1995). Empirical evidence stresses the fact that students’ civic and socio-moral development does not depend only on individual characteristics. Institutional aspects such as curriculum, the cultural climate and organisational ethos play a role, and sometimes act as tipping points to the definition of students’ morality and citizenship. This evidence requires us to state clearly the ethical principles and pedagogical strategies underlying our efforts to teach students. This paper addresses these principles and presents some useful strategies to foster students’ intellectual and moral self and democratic citizenship.

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