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Articles and chapters

This paper analyses the effects of research assessment on the overall research practices of academics. Case study research was conducted in departments from two contrasting disciplines – the natural sciences and the humanities – in one research-intensive Danish university. The case studies examined academics’ and administrators’ experiences of a national bibliometric indicator (BFI) used for research assessment. PhD students and early career researchers initially reported that the greatest effects of the BFI were on their publishing practices. Prompted by further questions, many interviewees reflected on the relationship between research assessment and changes in their overall research practice about which they were previously unaware. We drew on Bourdieu’s theory of practice to theorise why there was so little reflexivity, also among senior researchers, about the relationship between actions to comply with research assessment and changes in research practice itself. We conclude by highlighting some potential implications, especially for senior reseachers’ mentorship of early career academics.


This special issue focuses on universities run by and for the benefit of students, academics and the public. Three contributions cover existing initiatives from ‘free’ universities and other long-established institutions that are fee-free and where students and faculty are central to their operations and governance. Other contributions focus on using tried and tested participatory organisational structures to create alternatives to the deteriorating state of universities: one sets out ways universities could be run by ‘beneficial owners’; the other reports on a project to design cooperative universities.


After analysing the organisational pathologies and societal ills created by the neoliberalisation of universities, the article engages in a critique of the pseudo-business model currently in use. It poses as a solution the re-creation of universities as trusts, with a model of beneficiary ownership, a matrix form of organisation and renewed relations with society. For inspiration it looks to beneficiary-run organisations on the model of the John Lewis Partnership or the Mondragón University. The article explains why such beneficial matrix organisations are superior to current universities and how they offer an opportunity to recreate universities for the public good.

I started my anthropological training in 1972 and Laura Nader, and especially her article in that book “Up the anthropologist – Perspectives gained from studying up” (Nader, L., 1972) has been my company throughout my academic career. This article highlights some of the themes in her “politics of silencing” paper that have been especially formative not just for me, but for the discipline over 45 years.

This chapter explores the consequences of universities’ enabling as well as critiquing the developments over the last half century that are now depicted as the Anthropocene or Capitalocene. One consequence is that in many countries, universities are organised as what Polanyi (2001 [1944]) calls a ‘formal economy’ focused on  competition in a purported context of scarcity and dislocated from social and cultural relations. Inspired by Tsing’s (2015) book on ‘the possibility of life in capitalist ruins’, the article explores how the university could instead be what Polanyi calls a ‘substantive economy’ or ‘ecology’. This would mean re-embedding universities in a wider range of interlaced social, political and economic relations and responsibilities. The situation of academics within this political economy behoves us to question, how can we educate ourselves and our students to be critically reflexive about the ‘scene’ universities are in? In universities that have been reformed in alignment with the processes generating the Anthro/Capitalocene, how can we use our critical skills to find space to act, so as to develop universities as responsible institutions producing knowledge and citizens with a sense of care for the future not just of humanity but of the globe itself?


This article studies issues of coloniality in so-called capacity-building projects between universities in Africa and Scandinavia. Even fifty years after independence, the African higher education landscape is a product of the colonial powers and subsequent uneven power relations, as argued by a number of researchers. The uneven geography and power of knowledge exist also between countries that were not in a direct colonial relationship, which the word coloniality implies. Based on interviews with stakeholders and on our own experiences of capacity-building projects, this article examines how such projects affect teaching, learning, curriculum, research methodology and issues of quality enhancement. We analyse the dilemmas and paradoxes involved in this type of international collaboration and conclude by offering ways to decolonise capacity-building projects.

Et mål i den danske læreruddannelse er, at de lærerstuderende skal forberedes til at give deres fremtidige undervisning et globalt perspektiv, således at deres elever kan opnå "interkulturel kompetence". Praktikophold i udlandet har været en af måderne at opnå dette mål. Med udgangspunkt i tre måneders etnografisk feltarbejde blandt danske lærerstuderende i praktik i Filippinerne undersøger vi i denne artikel, hvad der sker i mødet mellem danske lærerstuderende og deres praktikskoler, og dermed hvordan pædagogiske ideer rejser med sådanne praktikker. 

Universities around the world face a number of pressures. To cope with these pressures the language of entrepreneurship and innovation has arisen out of neoliberal ideologies. However, in some contexts, especially in Scandinavia, entrepreneurship has been re-defined to encompass a wider set of values than just the economic. Value today is most often thought of as economic value. But the role of the university could be to discuss what do we value. Learning focused around the things a society values involves a dynamic process of becoming for students and faculty. Students should be re-integrated into the core of knowledge production and creating new values. This is a process of transformation, of becoming for the students, where they act upon the world, take risks, and grapple with the new, transforming themselves through the process. It is an agentic process that benefits both the individual and the communities they work with.


There is a deep concern about how higher education worldwide has become more narrowly focused on the economy, on qualification and credentialing. Central to this concern is the notion of the “Entrepreneurial University.” Touted by policy makers, university administrators and politicians as the model for the future, entrepreneurial is seen as a synonym for the marketized and economized university, an institution where economic rationality determines research directions, curricular content, pedagogical theory, and services. Critics of the entrepreneurial university regard this market-oriented focus as destructive to the pursuit of knowledge, the well-being of citizens and society. These arguments have been developed in literature on the commodification of the university (Shumar 1997), the market mantra of neoliberalism on education (Blum & Ullman 2012), and the growth of the knowledge society (Hargreaves 2003). But one thing they share with the conservative advocates of the entrepreneurial university is an ideology of what meant by “entrepreneurial”. Drawing on these arguments we suggest that a broader definition of EE, as imagined in Scandinavia, could ironically bring higher education back to a more genuine foundation of the pursuit of knowledge that helps the individual grow and also builds a strong society.


Since Sarasvathy’s (2001) research on decision making logics of expert entrepreneurs effectuation has become a corner stone in entrepreneurship education. Effectuation is not only subjectified in EE but has also become conceptualized as a method in the learning process. This paper aims at exploring how students, who are novice entrepreneurs, react to working effectually and which barriers they face when applying effectual decision making logics in a university course.

The purpose of this paper is to ask: what effect does moving from individual to collective understandings of the entrepreneur in enterprising education have on the student’s learning? And given this shift in understanding, is there a need for a new paradigm in entrepreneurship learning?


The aim of this paper is to contribute to the discussion about the complexity and heterogeneity of entrepreneurship education. In order to achieve this objective, this paper combines educational psychology with perspectives from entrepreneurship education research to make explicit educators tacit assumptions in order to understand how these assumptions guide teaching.

This chapter demonstrates how Humanities students in a blended learning course become active learners, use an entrepreneurial approach and reflect on the achievement of an entrepreneurial mind-set. The ICT-based Educational Design students were challenged to create value for themselves and others in their professional life by experimenting with ways to combine the online with the offline with their own students/pupils.

In this chapter we explore a framework that allows educators to communicate their differences in enterprise education. The framework is elaborated through a large research project PACE (Promoting a Culture of Entrepreneurship). Course elements have gradually been developed, described and implemented in curricular course activities, where anthropologists have studied them. Based on the observations from the anthropologists course activities have been further systematically revised and condensed into a two week summer school, where the behaviour of students and teachers have been studied again by anthropologists.
These insights are organised into a matrix that positions essential enterprise education elements in relation to each other. Furthermore we suggest a process model describing the progression of the learning process. We do this by combining a differentiation of progression through the enterprise learning activities with a differentiation of the pedagogical approach. The chapter provides teachers and scholars within the large and growing community of enterprise education with a framework that enables them to communicate more clearly about the roles and relationships between different enterprise courses and modules.


At Danish universities, the governance structure is regulated by law. This structure was radically changed in 2003, abolishing the republican rule of the senate consisting of academics, students, and staff in favour of an authoritarian system assigning all executive power to the vice-chancellor, or as we say in Denmark, the rector. To introduce the current situation at Danish universities, in the first two sections of this article, I will compare them with more well-known counterparts in other countries. This situation is reflected in exemplary cases, and in the third section, I focus on the most dramatic controversy ever encountered at a Danish university, the Koldau case, which reached national newspaper headlines and broadcasting in two rounds in 2011 and 2012. In the fourth section, I will interpret the case as an educational controversy in light of two conflicting ideas of the modern university, which may be attributed to two leading Enlightenment figures, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Denis Diderot. The conclusion is that to some extent, the failure to resist the neo-liberal university reforms in Denmark and the UK, and the drama of the Koldau case, may be explained with reference to the conflicting ideologies of those involved in these controversies.


Promoting entrepreneurialism, enterprise and entrepreneurial behaviour is a goal shared by many governments. European policy rhetoric strongly supports the promotion of entrepreneurial, creative and innovation skills in all disciplines and the cultivation of entrepreneurial mindsets. The transformation of society from an industrial society into a knowledge economy has made the production of knowledge an important factor. In Denmark, the government has mandated the teaching of entrepreneurship at higher education institutions. In this paper, we examine how particular constructions of entrepreneurialism, enterprise and entrepreneurship conflict with at least some practices of entrepreneurship education. We focus the ethnographic lens on a group of entrepreneurial academics whose task it is to educate students in entrepreneurship. We argue that these academics use a particular vision of the entrepreneurial university coupled with the practice of entrepreneurship education as an opportunity to introduce radically new modes of knowing and learning that connotes to classical ideas of critique, self-organization, activism and emancipation. This discussion has relevance for what we as educators do and how we set our students up – as passive receivers of ‘knowledge’ on the one hand, or as active participants capable of shaping their own learning, on the other.


The introduction of entrepreneurship education into Higher Education discourses can be traced throughout the western world over the last two decades. Whether talking about starting businesses, often the focus for American universities, or encouraging enterprising behavior, the terms used in the UK and some parts of Europe, entrepreneurship education has, using models from cognitive psychology and social cognition theories from education gradually become established as a discipline in Higher Education. As educational anthropologists we are interested in exploring the parameters of this new discipline. We propose that the nature of this discipline lends itself to ethnography as a method for discussions about how enterprising behaviour is nurtured, supported and evolves into entrepreneurial practices through socially constructed communities. A close look at the practices of entrepreneurship educators in a Danish Higher Education institute stimulated an analysis of what these teachers do and say they are doing in the entrepreneurship classroom.




Online articles


The dissertation studies the Danish higher education policy on ’relevance’ and graduate employability through the metrics deployed to measure and evaluate the policy. Drawing on a close study of the metrics and a comprehensive ethnographic material, the metrics are analysed in terms of how they are constructed, how they reconfigure education and how they are enacted in educational and governance practices. The dissertation shows that each metric brings along a different concept of ‘relevance’ or graduate employability, and that underdeveloped metrics and concepts may hold potentials to improve the labour market entry of graduates in new ways.


This PhD dissertation is an inquiry into the darkness of being a university student. Through a series of evocative vignettes, aesthetic expressions and philosophical speculations, I explore the murky nooks and corners of students’ lives based on an ethnographic fieldwork at Aarhus University. Drawing on the philosophies of among others Heidegger, Levinas and Nietzsche, the investigation gives birth to a series of wondering that question the way in which we practice university education in contemporary western society.