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Rikke Toft Nørgård

Wellbeing in higher education: From behavioural control to community building

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  • Søren Smedegaard Ernst Bengtsen
  • Hanne Leth Andersen, RUC
  • ,
  • Thomas Szulevicz
  • ,
  • Rikke Toft Nørgård
  • Margaret Bearman, Monash University, Australia
  • Rola Ajjawi, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, Australia
  • Lene Tanggaard Pedersen, Institut for Kommunikation, Allborg Universitet, Denmark
Universities around the world implement policies around student and academic wellbeing and create their own institutional strategies for how to better support and aid students and staff dealing with stress, anxiety or depression. We fully acknowledge student and academic pressures, and at the same time we challenge the pathological discourses that are clouding higher education. Research reports that wellbeing discourses and support programmes may feel stigmatizing and be connected to shame and a negative spiral of low self-esteem (Wulf-Andersen & Larsen, 2020). Further, wellbeing issues are being criticized for becoming part of surveillance mechanisms and performance indicators, where students and staff behaviour and emotional lives are being colonized and scrutinized by institutional management. Farrell and Mahon (2021) critically discuss the political need to ‘solve’ emotional, existential, and pedagogical uncertainty through a medicalized vocabulary of sickness, illness, and health. We argue that challenging learning trajectories, both physically and digitally, should not be too readily fixated into a medical vocabulary and strategies for governance, surveillance, and control (Bengtsen & Barnett, 2017). Focusing on building a sense of community, and the spaces that allow community to flourish, may avoid unhelpful categorisation and allow responsible and ethical experiences of "being well" (Macfarlane, 2012; Nørgård, 2021).
Original languageEnglish
Publication yearMay 2022
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - May 2022
EventICED 2022 - International Consortium for Educational Development - Aarhus, Denmark
Duration: 31 May 20223 Jun 2022


ConferenceICED 2022 - International Consortium for Educational Development

    Research areas

  • Higher education, wellbeing, student, governance, being, becoming, formation, learning

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