What I am working on now

The best place to see research projects I am currently involved in is my ResearchGate profile. I am trying to post some updates, drafts and completed articles there. Compared to last year, my interest are now more streamlined, with the biggest chunks devoted to my dissertation. In the coming months, I will:

  • attempt to create an institutional comparison of liberal arts education programs in Europe,
  • transform my first chapter of my dissertation into a denser article on the concept of liberal education in Europe – suggesting that there is little consensus among people using the concept, and advocating for research that bridged philosophical literature and higher education studies of the topic;
  • transcribe the interviews with the first leaders of European liberal education programs and write up a comparative empirical piece looking for common threads and idiosyncrasies (aren’t all comparative pieces like it?). I hope that this might be my most important contribution, but it might take a while before it is ready.

Meanwhile, I have finally published some articles on liberal education in English. I described the first one (Kontowski, D. (2016) „The Paradox of “Practical Liberal Arts”. Lessons from the Wagner College Case for Liberal (Arts) Education in Eastern Europe”, Voprosy obrazovaniya / Educational Studies (Moscow), (3), ss. 80–109.) in more details in the first post from New York. Now I see it a little bit more clearly that what I experience at Wagner might fall into the category of “pragmatic consensus” (Bruce A. Kimball) within contemporary liberal education in the US. If so, my task for this year seems to find what is gained and what is lost in such approach, and how small institution like Wagner College might find itself more struggling to deliver on this than perhaps better endowed colleges.

Just yesterday, another article has been finally published:

Kontowski, D. (2016) ‘On the verge of liberal arts education: the case of MISH in Poland‘, Working Papers in Higher Education Studies, 2(1), pp. 58–94.

This is a work on MISH college at the University of Warsaw in Poland, the institution I graduated from and I owe much both educationally and as a person. I wrote it for three reasons. First of all, there are some things that were not set right in almost all the previous articles that mention MISH: as the institutional arrangement might seem opaque from the outside, I wanted to set the record straight. Secondly, I believe that the philosophy of liberal education, if this is not too big a word, that MISH operates under is a very peculiar one, and far reaching. Finally, MISH had some success in inspiring limited change in Poland and the region, but it did not receive in my opinion adequate attention. Most articles published on liberal education in Europe cover the Netherlands and recently the UK. I therefore invite you to the land between Germans and Russians, one that has its many gems and I believe MISH is one of them. Importantly, I think that MISH is in some ways done reforming higher education: it got mainstream, regulated, less audacious, and the role of educational laboratory has switched to Kolegium Artes Liberales UW. This article described the “older brother” of this institution, and the idea of the major figure behind both, professor Jerzy Axer who has retired this year. While I do not pretend to present any authorized reading of what he might or might not hoped to achieve through liberal education in Europe, I certainly believe that there is some food for thought in the pieces that I direct my attention to in my article. Personally, I believe that a grassroots way of describing the idea of liberal education in Europe that I attempted in this article might be the most promising avenue for further research on the topic.

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