Reconfiguring Regulation: Towards an Empathic, Person-Centred Highly Compulsory Course of Study

Rick Mitcham


This paper offers a model for a highly compulsory course designed to be empathic and person-centred within the parameters of the regulatory environment. Highly compulsory courses are those which require undergraduate students to study general subjects, in addition to subjects in their chosen academic degrees, and to satisfy the requirements within the duration of a first-degree course programme. Students who fail to comply must either remain at university until all highly compulsory courses have been successfully completed or to leave university without a degree. A relatively recent phenomenon, the highly compulsory course blueprint is being reproduced in university settings across Asia. The empathic person-centred highly compulsory course model described in the paper emerged through the interplay of three elements: an understanding of the modern regulatory environment informed by the work of philosopher-historian, Michel Foucault; an approach to writing ordinary lives extrapolated from the work of cultural historian, Catherine Hall; and real life-like scenarios based on a knowledge and understanding of the ordinary lives of students conscripted to the course that accrued in an 18-month period between 2015 and 2016. The resulting course is predicated on four principles: challenge; openness and transparency; availability; and flexibility. The first is a response to the regulatory environment’s requirement that the highly compulsory courses within its purview be meaningful from a pedagogical perspective; the other three are designed to support student-conscripts through the challenge. If neither the detail of the course nor the principles on which it is predicated convince, the three elements introduced in the first part of the paper offer a possible approach for the development of highly compulsory courses that are sensitive to, and which mitigate against conflict with, learners’ lives outside the classroom.


Highly Compulsory Course, Regulation, Learner, Ordinary Lives, Michel Fou-cault, Catherine Hall

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