Claudine Provencher is the Head of LSE LIFE, a centre for the academic, personal and professional development of students at the London School of Economics. She holds a BA in Economics and an MBA at McGill University. After 15 years in the private sector, she returned to university and obtained an MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology and, then, a PhD in social psychology, both at the London School of Economics. Her doctoral thesis used the theory of social representations developed by Serge Moscovici to examine the controversy that surrounded the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) vaccine in the UK at the end of the 1990s. She then joined the Department of Social Psychology at LSE (now the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science) as a teaching fellow and, during that time, developed a real interest for education, teaching and learning. This led her to work as an educational developer with specific responsibility for learning development and, a few years later, to take a lead role in the development of LSE LIFE.
Higher education, Social representations of education.
Every cloud has a silver lining? The dark clouds of higher education
The ever-increasing focus on metrics in higher education, on rankings, on commercialisation, the imposition of an increasingly complex regulatory environment, the external pressures put on research agendas and, more recently, the changes in delivery models brought by COVID-19 are compromising the role of universities as independent producers and communicators of knowledge and as developers of critical and engaged citizens. In addition, it can be argued that the different demands put on academics are compromising their capacity to challenge the status quo and to make real contributions to the human stock of knowledge. These trends represent a real threat for the functioning of our societies. This project, which builds on the work done by LSE LIFE, is proposing to explore and identify some possible elements of response to these issues. Using action research as the overall methodological approach, it will use different sets of data to draw lessons both in terms of what an initiative such as LSE LIFE tells us about the possibility for universities to continue to play a key role in the development of critical and engaged citizens and how it can refresh the mandate/mission of academics.