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Self-Formation and the Common Good in Higher Education

Event type




June 17, 2024 (Mon)


Rayson Huang Theatre, HKU


4:30 PM - 6:00 PM


Professor Simon Marginson
Self-Formation and the Common Good in Higher Education

Self-Formation and the Common Good in Higher Education  


Professor Simon Marginson
Professor of Higher Education

Department of Education and Linacre College

University of Oxford


Date: June 17, 2024 (Monday)

Time: 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm 

Venue: Rayson Huang Theatre, HKU (Map)

Language: English


Registration: (Seats are available on a first come, first served basis.)


Higher education can be understood as a process of agentic self-formation, powered by conscious reflexivity, through immersion in knowledge and the social experiences of students inside higher education institutions. Higher education also contributes to the common good (some might say ‘public good’) of societies, including collective relations and social order. How are individual formation and social formation reconciled? Does enhancement of the reflexive agency freedom of the individual necessarily subtract from the contribution to the common good, as liberal individualism suggests? Does a focus on the collection dimension and social order necessarily subtract from the scope for individual agency, as has been the case from time to time in historical contexts across the world? After exploring ‘higher education as student self-formation’, and ‘higher education and the common good’, the lecture explores how the relation between the two is socially and culturally nested, varying on the basis of class and institutional stratification, and also varying between Western (especially Anglophone) society and societies in the Chinese civilisational zone. It will close by considering ways forward on the all-important question of the individual and social in higher education.           


About the Speaker
Simon Marginson is Professor of Higher Education at the University of Oxford and Joint Editor-in-Chief of Higher Education. He is also a Professorial Associate of the University of Melbourne, a Fellow of the British Academy, the Academies of Social Sciences in each of the UK and Australia, and the Society for Research into Higher Education. He is a member of Academia Europaea. In 2014 he was the Clark Kerr Lecturer on Higher Education at the University of California, Berkeley, and in 2015-2024 the director of the ESRC Centre for Global Higher Education in the UK. In 2017 he received an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences at Lingnan University in Hong Kong.  Simon’s research is focused primarily on global, international and comparative higher education, global science, higher education in East Asia, and the contributions of higher education to personal and social formation. His scholarship is widely published and cited (Google h-index 85). Recent books include Changing Higher Education in East Asia, edited with Xin Xu (2022), and Assessing the contributions of higher education, edited with Brendan Cantwell, Daria Platonova and Anna Smolentseva (2023). 


All are welcome!



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