What makes for an excellent higher education learning environment?

Dissertation Festival in Second Life

I am currently reading a study on academic micro-cultures from Lunds University that describes an excellent learning environment as including:

… a positive departmental climate, a good sense of a collegial “we”, continuous and deliberate discussions about educational issues, strong research achievements and active collaboration with other parts of the university and with the society.

This reminded me of a situated version of Peter Senge’s learning organisation composed through the interactions of attitudes and beliefs, awareness and sensibilities and skills and capabilities to support a deep learning cycle. An excellent learning environment must be based on attitudes and beliefs about higher education that treats research *and* teaching with parity of esteem, and has the maturity to engaging in difficult discussions about what it is doing and where it is going as educational issues. In other words, is an excellent learning environment predicated on attitudes and sensibilities aligned to an educational mission and an awareness of the needs, wants and aspirations of different stakeholders? The question is how to achieve such an excellent educational environment against a target driven, managerialist and marketised organisational context?

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