Technical universities beyond marketization: Educating the virtuous engineer

Wessel Reijers

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In this paper, I argue that marketization trends affecting universities in general are strongly present in the management and education of technical universities. Partly, this is due to the historical background of the technical university as such, but marketization can nonetheless negatively affect the purpose of technical universities, which I argue should be to educate virtuous engineers. Marketization trends tend to promote technical and administrative reason and culminate in the idea of an engineer that is “tuned” to his future position. As an alternative to the tuned engineer, I discuss the idea of “bildung” of the virtuous engineer, whose education includes a strong reflexive component. This reflective component, I argue, should enable engineers to distance themselves from their disciplines and reflect on their discipline-specific goals by juxtaposing them with their perception of what it means to be a virtuous engineer (how one envisions ones role as engineer in society). Instead of exclusively focusing on sets of skills that are preferred due to societal and business constraints, universities should also encourage students to reflect on their discipline as a whole; not only from a technical, but also from a historical, ethical and political perspective
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-106
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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