Bessant, Sophie (2017) Exploring the interface of marketisation and education for sustainable development in English higher education. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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This thesis explores the ideological and the practical relationship between Marketisation and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in English higher education (HE) – focusing on the political-economic ideology of Neoliberalism and associated public sector management philosophy of New Public Management (NPM) – in order to reveal how this relationship has influenced the pursuit, practice and development of ESD within England’s HE sector. This relationship is explored both in terms of the contradictions and challenges, as well as the synergies and opportunities, presented to the Higher Education for Sustainable Development (HESD) agenda within the prevailing marketised context. Justification for this research was a lack of studies which have explicitly, specifically and empirically explored ESD in the context of increasing neoliberal marketisation. A unique research design was employed, consisting of a single embedded case study of the HESD movement and community of practice in England, using a theoretical framework which combines tenets of both Pragmatist and Interpretivist theoretical traditions. Fifty-four semi-structured interviews were conducted with sustainability/ESD active staff across eight universities and five HE bodies in England, as well as a small number of HESD key informants. Results of this thesis suggest that there is an intrinsic ideological contradiction between ESD and marketisation in the contemporary HE environment in England, yet the practical relationship is much more complex. Findings point to an entrenched theory-practice gap between the ‘transformative’ HESD ideal found within mainstream HESD literature and the pragmatist reality of HESD developments occurring within English universities, which are largely incrementalist, reformist and deeply entwined within the marketised reality. Epistemological and value pluralism is offered as a way of appreciating that the marketised, liberal/traditional and sustainability roles, purposes, ideologies, values and realities of English HE are incontrovertibly conflicting, yet symbiotic in equal measure, and that marketisation and sustainability are separated by ideology, but not by practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Geography, Geology and the Environment
Contributors: Robinson, ZP (Thesis advisor)
Ormerod, Mark (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2017 09:31
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2020 14:58

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