Budd Hall calls for knowledge democracy movement

Budd Hall calls for knowledge democracy movement

Published on 19 May 2013


Professor Budd Hall, Director of the Office of Community Based Research at the University of Victoria, in lamenting the trend towards the marketisation of the higher education sector – and of knowledge in general - has called for the reclamation of universities from corporate influence in his recent ACU Perspectives talk.

Pointing to the combination of on-going concerns about the state of the world, the global economy, and the confidence crisis in the ‘Western canon’ of knowledge’s ability to guide all of humanity through the next phase of its development, Professor Hall asserted that it was time the ‘social question’ was reopened and that challenges were made to the dominance of traditional knowledge and marketplace dynamics in universities.

‘The social has every bit as much a right in the university as the market… We want structures and policies that link knowledge with democratic participation, with more inclusion and with an obvious social justice aim,’ he said.

Speaking in depth about knowledge, Professor Hall shared several loosely-related stories ranging from the development of grass roots knowledge in rural north-west India to the revival of indigenous knowledge in south-east Uganda. Although these stories were linked by the central theme of knowledge, Professor Hall noted through these stories that knowledge is dynamic and inextricably linked to social, political and cultural change.

‘These knowledge innovators have all facilitated various means of creating, sharing and accessing knowledge that is not part of what is often called the Western canon. For a variety of justice, cultural, spiritual, environmental, and health reasons, the application of knowledge from the Western canon was seen as insufficient,’ he added, alluding to knowledge democracy’s core tenet - the existence of multiple sources of knowledge and multiple forms of representing it.

Concluding that knowledge is a fundamental tool for deepening democracy and struggling for a fairer world, he pointed out that current levels of inequality were ‘vicious’ leaving those from the more excluded parts of the world increasingly marginalised.  

In a talk that sought to raise as many questions as it answered, Professor Hall left his audience to muse over how higher education professionals could respond by creating new architectures of knowledge that would allow the co-construction of knowledge between intellectuals in academia and intellectuals located in community settings.

Listen to Professor Hall's speech in full on Soundcloud


The ACU Perspectives speaker series offers ACU members a chance to contribute to the debates and discussions on the future directions of higher education, to share their ideas and experiences, and to bring insights from their own region, institution or discipline.

The series theme is ‘Change and opportunity in higher education’ – a deliberately broad topic, allowing speakers to engage with the subject of their choice using local context and personal experience.

You can read a round-up of all four ACU Perspectives events to date in the forthcoming issue of The Bulletin.