Skip to main content


We’d like to understand how you use our websites in order to improve them. Register your interest.

University Lecturers’ Conceptions of Ethics and Citizenship Education in the European Higher Education Area: a Case Study

Concepciones del profesorado universitario sobre la formación ética y ciudadana en el Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior: un estudio de caso


Ethics and Citizenship education has become the focus of considerable debate since the launch of the European Higher Education Area. That this is the case is interesting, as it is a type of education that forms part of the educational mission of universities, as its history plainly demonstrates. Ethics and Citizenship education cannot be analysed solely in terms of its pedagogical requirements, the skills and competencies that it seeks to develop, or the type of students and professionals that the world needs today. Its success also requires that we explore what university lecturers understand by this type of education, the context it currently finds itself in, and how students perceive such an education. This paper presents a case study conducted on university lecturers in Education, Philosophy and Humanities at several European institutions.


La formación ética y para la ciudadanía está siendo objeto de debate desde la implantación del espacio europeo de educación superior. Resulta interesante que así sea, pues se trata de un tipo de formación que forma parte de la misión formativa de la universidad, tal y como su historia se ha encargado de demostrarnos. Este tipo de formación no puede ser analizada sólo desde la pedagogía que requiere, las competencias que se deben fomentar o el tipo de estudiantes y profesionales que la contemporaneidad necesita. Su buen desarrollo también necesita adentrarse en qué entiende el profesor universitario por dicha formación, en qué estado cree que se encuentra y cómo concibe a sus estudiantes al respecto. Este trabajo presenta el estudio del caso de profesores de diferentes universidades europeas de las áreas de educación, filosofía y humanidades.


  1. Beck, U. (1992). Risk Society. Towards a New Modernity: Theory, culture and society. London: Sage.

  2. Bentham, J. (1996). Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  3. Berube, M. (2007). What’s Liberal about the Liberal Arts? New York: W. W. Norton.

  4. Bok, D. (1986). Higher Learning. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  5. Bok, D. (2007). Our Underachieving Colleges. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

  6. Duke, C. (2008). University Engagement: Avoidable Confusion and Inescapable Contradiction, Higher Education Management and Policy, 20, 1–11.

  7. European Commission (1995). White paper on Education and Training. Teaching and Learning: Towards the Learning Society. COM (95) 590. Brussels: European Commission.

  8. European Commission (2006, 5 September). Implementing the Community Lisbon Programme. Proposal for a Recommendations of the European parliament and the Council on the establishment of the European Qualifications Framework for lifelong learning, COM, 479 final.

  9. European Council (1996). White Paper: Conclusions on the “Teaching and Learning: Towards the Learning Society”, 3 (96/C, 195/01, in OJEC 6.VII.1996).

  10. European Council (2007). On the new skills for new jobs. Official Journal of the European Union. 2007/C 290/01. Brussels: European Commission. Retrieved from

  11. European University Association (2005). Trends IV: European Universities Implementing Bologna, S. Reichter & C. Tauch. Brussels: EUA. Retrieved from

  12. European University Association, 2010. Trends VI: A decade of change in European Higher Education Area, A. Sursock & H. Smidt. Brussels: EUA. Retrieved from

  13. Forbrig, J. (Ed.) (2005). Revisiting youth political participation. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

  14. Giddens, A. (1991). Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. London: Polity.

  15. Giroux, H. (2007). Academic repression in the first person. The advocate, February, 1

  16. González, J., & Wagenaar, R. (Eds.) (2003). Tuning Educational Structures in Europe. Final Report. Phase One. Bilbao: Universidad de Deusto.

  17. Kerr, C. (2001). The uses of the University. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  18. Kohlberg, L. (1981). The Meaning and Measurement of Moral Development. Worcester, MA: Clark University Press.

  19. Kohlberg, L. (1984). Essays on Moral Development. The Psychology Moral Development. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

  20. Lapsley, D., & Clark, F. (2005). Character Psychology and Character Education. Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press.

  21. MacIntyre, A. (1984). Tras la virtud. Barcelona: Editorial Crítica.

  22. Moore, S. (2008). Practical approaches to ethics for Colleges and Universities. New Directions for Higher Education, 142.

  23. Newman, J. H. (1852). The idea of a university. New York: Longmans Green & Co, 1927.

  24. Nucci, L., & Narváez, D. (2008). Handbook of Moral and Character Education. New York: Routledge.

  25. OECD (1997). DeSeCo Project. Definition and Selection of Competencies: Theoretical and Conceptual Foundations. Paris: OECD.

  26. Ortega y Gasset, J. (1930). La misión de la universidad. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.

  27. Pelikan, J. (1992). The idea of the University: a Re-examination. New Haven: Yale University Press.

  28. Pérez-Díaz, V. (2010). Universidad, Ciudadanos y nómadas. Oviedo: Ediciones Nobel.

  29. Procario Foley, E., & Bean, D. (2002). Institutions of Higher Education: Cornerstones in Building Ethical Organizations, Teaching Business Ethics, 6, 101–116. doi

  30. Rüegg, W. (1992). A history of the University in Europe. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  31. Saha, J. L., Print, M., & Edwards, K. (Eds.) (2007). Youth and Political Participation. Rotterdam: Sense Publishers.

  32. Sandel, M. (2011). Justicia. ¿Hacemos lo que debemos? Barcelona: Random House Mondadori.

  33. Scott, J. (2006). The Mission of the University: Medieval to Postmodern transformations. The Journal of Higher Education, 77(1), Winter, 1–39. doi

  34. Stanley, F. (2008). Save the World on Your Own Time. New York: Oxford University Press.

  35. Steiner, G. (2004). The idea of Europe. Tilburg: Uitgeverij Nexus.

  36. Wyattt, J. (1990). Commitment to Higher Education. Seven West European Thinkers on the Essence of the University. Max Horkeimer, Karl Jaspers, F. R. Leavis, John Herny Newman, José Ortega y Gasset, Paul Tillich, Miguel de Unamuno. Buckingham: SHRE and Open University Press.

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Francisco Esteban Bara.

Rights and permissions

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits use, duplication, adaptation, distribution, and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Esteban Bara, F., Mellen Vinagre, T. & Buxarrais Estrada, M.R. University Lecturers’ Conceptions of Ethics and Citizenship Education in the European Higher Education Area: a Case Study. Int J Educ Technol High Educ 11, 22–31 (2014).

Download citation


  • European Higher Education Area
  • ethics
  • citizenship

Palabras clave

  • Espacio Europeo de Educación Superior
  • ética
  • ciudadanía