The ethos of a study program - a barrier or a springboard for change?

The ethos of a study program - a barrier or a springboard for change?

E. Stiwne (2009).  The ethos of a study program - a barrier or a springboard for change?. 11.

In Sweden, as in many other European countries, vice chancellors and study boards are trying to interpret and adjust to different programs, aiming at enhancing and developing the quality of education. The CDIO-initiative was launched at Linkoping University (LiU) in 1999, in Applied Physics and Electrotechnics (the Y-program), in collaboration with Chalmers and KTH in Sweden and MIT in USA. The initiative was possible due to a generous grant from the Knut and Alice Wallenberg foundation in Sweden ( In 2007 the implementation of the Bologna structure started at LiU, to some extent in line with the CDIOinitiative, but with a clear focus on learning outcomes at course - and curriculum level. In their national evaluations of Engineering programs in Sweden, The National Agency of Higher Education (HSV) based their quality criteria to a large extent on the CDIO-syllabus.

In this paper I will reflect on the meaning and impact of the “ethos” in a study program. I will review previous research and try to make a distinction between the two concepts, “culture” and “ethos”, which sometimes are used synonymously. With that background I will use results and experiences from the change process in the Y-program to reflect on the question of the relation between the “ethos” of a study program and the potential for curricular and pedagogical change. The questions underpinning the outline of the paper are: What is the meaning of the concept of “ethos” and how is that related to the concept of culture?

Are there previous research about the concept of “ethos” and its´ impact on student learning? What was the “ethos” of the Y-program and how was it enacted and sustained? Is the “ethos” of a program a springboard or a barrier for curricular and pedagogical change? Conclusions 

Authors (New): 
Elinor Edvardsson Stiwne
Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
curricular change
pedagogical change
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