Dr James Campbell_Deakin University
Dr James Campbell_Deakin University
Institutional arrangements and
University autonomy directly relates both to the
specific relationships and interactions
universities have with broader social institutions,
and the competencies of the students produced
in such institutions
Malaysia and the Triple Helix
The needs of the knowledge economy and the changing role of
university education in a triple helix environment are clearly
recognized and accepted by the Malaysian government.
There is an overwhelming understanding and acceptance of the
importance of structural change to Malaysia educational
system and a very deep understanding of the relationship
between structural change and innovation. Put another way the
arguments of Malaysian policy workers and government
directly grasp the relationship between structural reform and
pedagogical reform to move Malaysia into the knowledge
The clarity of the direction of Malaysian education and in our
case universities and the need for interconnection between the
private and public spheres as well as the correlation of this
with pedagogical reform points to the clear recognition of
Malaysian political authority for pedagogical reform.
Triple Helix of Relationships
My basic argument is that an overly reductive
helix based simply on the state-market-academia
model, without a fourth strand of public or civil
society involvement, will not provide the proper
institutional support and values legitimacy to the
types of pedagogy that are needed for
innovation to prosper in universities.
Forms of social capital underpin the ability of Malaysian universities to
successfully reform pedagogically and structurally and that these factors are
reflexive to each other. The types of social capital and interrelations that
characterise university structures and practices can add or detract from the
legitimacy of reform
A fourth strand is needed in the helix metaphor to balance and give
grounding to the debate over university reform
This strand we can call the public or civil society strand. In the Malaysian
context, the growing salience of civil society, associations, clubs and social
movements is acting as a propellant for democratic reform and social
legitimacy. It also recognizes and includes practical and lived ‘cultural’
practices from civil society in ways that are neither beholden to state or
market power. University practice in ways that are authentic and lived rather
than static and imposed.
Legitimacy of Pedagogy: Pedagogy of Legitimacy
Including the fourth strand balances out the problems of university relations
with business and government and provides an important institutional pillar
to support the kinds of pedagogy that is both cooperative and dialogical.
This fourth strand also provided institutional support for the kinds of
cooperative democratic pedagogies that are necessary for a knowledge
economy to prosper.
The fusion of a fourth strand of civic associations, social groups and civil
society more directly into the institutional and structural activities of the
university, provides an arena or ‘incubator’ for the values legitimacy of the
Deweyan pedagogy that lays at the heart of pedagogical reform in knowledge
Deweyan socially constructivist pedagogy exemplifies forms of interaction
that that are dialogical and participatory. Such pedagogy is productive and
articulates forms of social capital that are not merely technical abilities or
strictly technical competencies but rather deeper forms of social interaction.
Socially constructive pedagogy produces not simply technical ability in
students but is also representative of values and forms of social interaction
that are not simply possessive individualistic nor traditionally authoritarian.
Civil society and reform legitimacy
A failure to include the fourth strand in the discussion of university
functioning will lead to unintended consequences both in the
legitimacy of the university in Malaysian society and in the legitimacy
of forms of pedagogy necessary for the knowledge society.
A corollary of this argument is that any reform to Malaysian education
must take into account the specific cultural and national traditions of
the host society.
A simplistic notion of easy transference between pedagogical and
structural models from the West to Malaysian conditions is bound to
lead to difficulty.
Deepening Malaysian universities connection and engagement with
civil society and connecting them more intrinsically to the public good
(not as state provision and direction nor as market driven
individualism) provides both a way to frame autonomy as neither
beholden to the state or the market and by inference not beholden to
those constituencies that are seen to dominate these arenas.
Such a dynamic shift in the interconnectivity and
engagements of universities provides legitimacy to
collaborative non-hierarchical and innovative social
practices, which are the basic supports for innovative
Why is this so? Essentially much of what passes for
pedagogical theory reduces our ideas of pedagogy to
technique. How to teach? What approach to use. Properly
understood however, pedagogy is not simply technique.
Pedagogy is a form of social practice. It involves social
capital and draws on cultural traditions.
Understood in this way pedagogical practice within a
university are forms of social interaction and expressions
of cultural values. The legitimacy or otherwise of forms of
social interaction depends in large measure on the value
given differing forms of social practice. This issue
connects back to the structure and nature of institutional
practices within a university.
Interaction and innovation
Interaction and innovation, is not simply
technique. It is not divorced from social values
To treat the pedagogical aspect in the knowledge
economy equation as simply a problem of
accumulating techniques misses the fundamental
social aspect of pedagogy.
MIT as benchmark?
What then would such reform look like in detail? MIT’s Teaching and
Learning Laboratory Guidelines are an excellent example of the kind of
pedagogy that characterises the contemporary reform agenda (a benchmark
MIT follows in meshing university business and government, and in engaging
directly, the kinds of pedagogy necessary for Malaysian reform and represents
a kind of best practice example of the directions necessary for university
pedagogy in a Triple Helix environment.
MIT’s Teaching and Learning Guidelines are an outstanding example, put into
practice; of progressive pedagogy serving a university that is realising
intellectual cooperation with business and government (as well as community
and civil society) in the context of autonomy properly understood as
autonomy to do things rather than autonomy simply understood as autonomy
The MIT benchmark and other best practice examples must be theorized in
culturally specific situations.
One size fits all globalization? Or
The triple helix approach and the pedagogically social
constructivist DNA that runs through it is derived in
large measure from two intellectual streams.
First, the work of Schumpeter who outlined the
connection between innovation and economic
Second, Dewey who outlined the connection between
progressive education and educational development in
the context of democratic self growth and empowering
participation in day to day democratic practices.
The Schumpeterian strand is techno-economic, the
Deweyan strand is participatory-social.
One of the basic problems with those who advocate
the new globalised forms of pedagogy they tend to
conflate as if they were unproblematic the
Schumpeterian and Deweyan aspects of the reforms.
They then compound this by gliding over the cultural
specificities that characterise reform in differing
There is a real possibility of a practical
contradiction between the demands of
globalization (the neo Schumpeter thesis
outlined above) and the aims of pedagogy of
affective self-realisation and expressive growth
(the post Deweyan social constructivist
Pedagogy and social frameworks
An educational project that articulates universities as simply
market driven entities and sees autonomy as simply freedom
from regulation within a possessive individualistic frame of
reference will correspond to a social value system that is
individualistic competitive and possessive. Socially constructivist
pedagogy will either be in severe tension with this ethos or
identified with it as part of an assault on values and equity. The
social values and capital that inform pedagogy both in its formal
level as officially sanctioned techniques but also in its informal
level as the implicit practices that characterise human interaction
on campus require a much closer look at pedagogy and social
structure. Yet all socially constructivist pedagogy is culturally
I have argued that the adages of neo liberal economic
and progressive pedagogical theory are espoused
without adequate recognition of the cultural complexity
and problems that characterise host societies. My
essential argument is that neo liberal economic and
structural reform to universities if carried through
uncritically carries with it severe problems if it
uncritically accepts a kind of laizzesse faire market
approach to universities.
Such approaches can be culturally blind. This is because
marketization in extremis undercuts the values that
inform progressive pedagogy especially socially
constructivist pedagogy. In other words, pure
marketization undercuts the social values realised
through social constructivist pedagogy.
Marketization must be tempered by also connecting
universities to civil society in such a way that tempers
both extremes of the state and market and allows a
more sustainable relationship between cooperative
socially constructivist pedagogy and the social
framework within which it operates.
However an over simplification of our understanding
of innovation and development means that fully
marketized universities will place negative pressure on
principles of collaboration and cooperation which are
the hall marks of innovation.
Here lies the tension. To defend a space for innovation
as collaboration and non-possessive engagement a
significant strand of university practice must be
involved with civil society and civic engagement.
If autonomy is reduced to simple marketization then pedagogy
based on collaboration, free dialogue and innovation will be under
stress in universities.
Local cultural norms will be subsumed under a need to expand
The pressure of the neo liberal ethos will be too hard to resist. If on
the other hand autonomy is understood as being protected from the
market by the state then it is hard to see how creativity and
innovation can take root as core values in the academy and by
inference in the pedagogy of the academy.
The effective promotion of the ‘fourth strand’ to the helix structure
situates the dynamic possibilities of Malaysian civil society within the
university structure. It acts to bring legitimacy to universities in an
era where suspicion of both the state and the market abound. It
locates cultural norms back into our practices not as simply imposed
authority but as constantly negotiated developing norms drawing
legitimacy from the aspirations of a democratic populace.
Finally such a restructuring provides a better home and support for
forms of socially constructivist pedagogy rooted in a concern for
democratic growth, respect of difference and dignity.