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Resilient Universities

Confronting Changes in a Challenging World

Jan Erik Karlsen and Rosalind Pritchard

Resilience is ostensibly acknowledged as a cross-disciplinary issue, yet resilience analysis has seldom been applied to the understanding of universities and the academic world. The contributions to this volume aim to fill this gap through the presentation of both theoretical and empirical studies.
The book’s title reflects the desire to extend the debate in new directions and to assemble a fresh set of models and tools for thinking about resilient universities. Bringing together a range of experts in the field, this collection marks a novel departure within the social sciences and is intended to act as a first step towards establishing a holistic approach to future university governance and adaptation.
Today’s European universities are confronted by profound changes. This book constitutes an accessibly written, polemical and bold exploration of how current crises facing higher education institutions could be more effectively addressed by institutional resilience and new forms of adaptive, future oriented governance.

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Rosalind M.O. Pritchard Higher Education in a Competitive World

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Rosalind M.O. Pritchard 5 Higher Education in a Competitive World: The New British Regime The concept of resilience has been applied to systems as diverse as engineer- ing, nuclear power, healthcare, disaster management, commercial fishing and civil aviation, and it is now being extended to social and educational processes. It is true that a gap exists between industrial practice and social science, but as two putative ‘translators’ of resilience (Le Coze and Dupré, 2008) remark: ‘The migration of concepts and models from one world to the other is uncontrollable’ (ibid.: 25). We shall begin by following Wreathall’s (2006: 275) definition of resilience: ‘[It] is the ability of an organisation (system) to keep, or recover quickly to, a stable state, allowing it to continue operations during and after a major mishap or in the presence of continuous significant stresses’. This is the common sense view of resilience; but the concept involves more than just the ability to recover from accidents in dif ficult circumstances: it must be proactive rather than retroactive or reactive. Westrum (2006: 59), whilst granting that resilience is ‘the ability to recover from something bad once it has happened’, extends the idea beyond recovery to ‘The abil- ity to prevent something bad from happening’; ‘Or the ability to prevent something bad from becoming worse’ (italics added). Resilience requires vigilance in the detection of danger: continu- ous monitoring of system performance and ‘a constant state of unease’ (Hollnagel and Woods, 2006: 355–356). Safety is a central feature of...

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