UJ dialogue discusses 21st century values and the ethics of co-authorship

The Ali Mazrui Centre and the Department of Education and Curriculum Studies at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) hosted Distinguished Visiting Professors, Kerry Kennedy and Bruce MacFarlane, at a joint public lecture on Thursday, 22 February 2018, at Auckland Park Kingsway Campus.

Prof Kennedy – an advisor at The Education University of Hong Kong – presented on the “Populism, Fundamentalism and Contentious Politics: Are 21st Century Skills Enough to meet the challenges of our time?” while Prof MacFarlane – a Professor of Higher Education and Head of the School of Education at the University of Bristol, UK – presented his paper on “Exploring the Ethics of co-authorship”.

According to Kerry Kennedy, a Professor in Education and Chair in Curriculum Studies, UJ, “There has been considerable emphasis in this new century on the development of 21st century skills. Defined in different ways, these are essentially skills for an educated and talented workforce. In this sense they are not unimportant, but they are limited. The challenges facing the world today require more than a skilled workforce: what is needed is a skilled citizenry that values tolerance, social justice, open mindedness empathy and deep respect for others. What is needed are 21st century values.”

Prof Kennedy argued that the impact of fundamentalism and populism in creating alienating and toxic local and global environments should not be underestimated.

Prof Kennedy’s address highlighted the necessity to support young people in becoming more resilient, more active, more alert and more tolerant as worker-citizens of the future. Prof Kennedy also pointed out that schools, parents, peers and media have a responsibility for helping to provide an educational environment that will contribute to these outcomes. Developing 21st century values is the great challenge for education as this new century progresses.

Other speakers at the event included Prof MacFarlane, who explored the ethics of co-authorship.

Prof MacFarlane said “The allocation of authorship credit in academic publication raises complex ethical issues but is comparatively under-researched, particularly in the social sciences where it is now the norm. Few academics understand the requirements for legitimate authorship on the basis of international guidelines that originated in the biomedical sciences.

Prof MacFarlane explained that intellectual contribution is often overridden by considerations related to hierarchical power and performativity that effectively normalise a gift economy between academics. There is widespread belief in the legitimacy of ‘power ordering’ (ordering names according to academic hierarchy), and ‘gift ordering’ (ordering names in response to performative pressures).

His presentation drew on research conducted by the presenter: a survey of academics at universities in Hong Kong (Macfarlane 2017a) and a wider international sample (Macfarlane, et al, 2017b). The findings from these surveys indicates the need for universities to pay more regard to the development and dissemination of institutional policies on co (or multiple) authorship that protect early career academics, in particular.


Prof Bruce Macfarlane
Prof Bruce Macfarlane
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