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September 27 2002

One world but many kinds of knowledge

Although the buzz words knowledge economy are all pervasive in the modern world – across corporations, governments and transnational organisations – they have a hollow ring for UniSA’s Professor Jane Kenway. 

Delivering her inaugural professorial address at UniSA on October 1 2002 5 pm – 7.30 pm), Prof Kenway will confront issues of globalisation, the evolution of tribal divisions in society, the rush and impact of consumerism, the development of hybrid and oppositional styles of knowledge, and just how theses issues will effect education today and in the future. 

Kenway argues that the new “knowledge economy” represents a thin and narrow understanding of knowledge. 

“One of the key aspects of globalisation across transnational organisations has been to transform education into a commodity and that process has diminished the modern understanding of knowledge. In a world now dominated by economic rationalism and the full scale promotion of consumerism, knowledge and education have lost much of their richness and power. Visual, emotional, ethical and interactive aspects of knowledge have all slipped away in this tide, leaving us with narrow, pragmatic concepts of knowledge.” 

Kenway says the new knowledge order is set against the backdrop of an increasingly fractured world society. 

“The world now includes four key global tribes – the new global elite, people who spend much of their lives travelling, removed from everyday life due to their wealth and power; the new poor, in their distressed millions; the anti-globalisation activists; and the myriad of consumer tribes all vying for fulfilment through products. It is this fractured but dynamic mix that may indeed force policy makers to open their minds to a deeper understanding of knowledge.” 

Kenway says the challenge for educators and more so for researchers in the field, is to determine what kinds of knowledge should be taught in schools and tertiary institutions. 

“Two years in to the 21st century and many years on from the first wave of people’s conscious engagement with globalisation we still have no idea of what it might mean to teach the young to become successful and contributing global citizens,” she says. 

“What is clear is that the knowledge economy is not the glittering prize it is made out to be and that in the drive to build global profits we are sacrificing a richer and ultimately more valuable understanding of knowledge and global relationships.” 

Professor Kenway’s lecture – Reshaping Education in Globalizing, Tribalizing and Hybridizing Times – presented by UniSA’s Hawke Institute with the Centre for Studies in Literacy, Policy and Learning Cultures, will be held at UniSA’s City West Campus, Yungondi Building, level 1, 70 North Terrace Adelaide.   


Media contact: Michèle Nardelli (08) 8302 0966 or 041 8823673









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