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Institutional Responses to the Bologna Process in Danish Engineering Education

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Studying Engineering Education Research & Institutions

Tagged Divisions

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society and Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.975.1 - 26.975.18



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Paper Authors


Atsushi Akera Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Atsushi Akera is Associate Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY). He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania. His current research is on the history of engineering education reform in the United States (1945-present). He also serves as the current Chair of the ASEE Liberal Education / Engineering and Society Division; a member of the Society for the History of Technology’s (SHOT) Executive Council; Associate Editor of the international journal, Engineering Studies; and Editorial Board member of the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. Publications include Calculating a Natural World: Scientists, Engineers and Computers during the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research (MIT Press, 2006).

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Xiaofeng Tang Penn State University Orcid 16x16

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Xiaofeng Tang is a postdoctoral fellow in engineering ethics at Penn State University. He received his Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Institutional Responses to the Bologna Process in Danish Engineering EducationDuring the opening keynote at the 2014 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, where PurdueUniversity president and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels spoke about the future of education, the question came up as to how U.S. institutions such as Purdue wereresponding to the Bologna Process and the current transformation of European higher education.Following the 1999 Bologna Declaration, many European education ministers embraced auniform two-cycle (typically “Diplom.” + “Candidate’s”) 3 + 2 year degree program structurefor their higher education institutions that promises to elevate the second degree into theequivalent of a U.S. Master’s degree. Moreover, as carried out under the neoliberal rhetoric ofcreating a European common market for higher education, the Bologna Process has offered manyEuropean institutions the opportunity to craft highly specialized technical degrees in support ofeconomic globalization and new national visions for an “innovation economy.”While the responses of the different European countries have varied, Denmark presents aninteresting case study in that as a small social democratic country with an unusually highcommitment to public higher education, Denmark was quick to embrace Bologna and to developa policy framework to support the corresponding transition. Thus unlike England, France, andGermany, where leading institutions have been more recalcitrant to undertake the deep curricularchanges associated with Bologna, the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and HigherEducation and the Danish Ministry of Business and Growth made a series of policy decisionsthat left Danish institutions with little choice but to accept large-scale change. Yet in beingdriven at the same time by strong principles of market competition, this policy framework leftDanish educational institutions with substantial room to craft their own responses, producingdifferent models for adapting their system of engineering education.This paper presents our preliminary findings based on a series of oral interviews carried out inlate 2012 at Aalborg University, Danish Technological University (DTU), Aarhus University,and two institutions formerly offering “medium cycle” (nominally 3.5 year) engineering degreeprograms. Broadly stated, the institutions’ responses varied from those of academicentrepreneurialism, to disciplinary retrenchment, to new visions for interdisciplinarycollaboration. Each set of institutional responses documents how the local responses to newpolicies took shape, and supported the vision to cultivate greater competition among Danishhigher education institutions. The paper will conclude with the implications of these changes forU.S. engineering education institutions, and the likely timeframe we have for adapting U.S.educational policies and institutional strategies in response to how the Bologna Process has beenunfolding in countries such as Denmark.

Akera, A., & Tang, X. (2015, June), Institutional Responses to the Bologna Process in Danish Engineering Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24312

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