The Flipped Curriculum: Dewey’s Pragmatic University


Recently Graham Badley (Stud High Educ 41(4):631–641, 2016) made the case that the "pragmatic university” represents a viable future for the post-modern institution. In his construction of the pragmatic university, Badley largely draws upon the vision laid out by Richard Rorty (Philosophy and social hope. Penguin Books, London, 1999). While Rorty’s neopragmatism offers an important perspective on the pragmatic institution, I believe that John Dewey’s classical pragmatism offers a richer and more capable vision of the university. The aim of this paper is to develop a view of the pragmatic university drawn from Dewey’s philosophy. His writings on the university offer a unique and viable path forward because he directly engages a reconstruction of the relationship between knowledge and experience in the context of post-secondary education.

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  1. 1.

    For a more robust articulation of the differences between Dewey and Rorty on this issue, see Garrison (1995) and Johnson (2014).

  2. 2.

    I am regrettably unable to offer full analysis of the debate. I would refer readers to Heldke (2005) and Johnston (2011) for excellent analyses of the contours of Dewey and Hutchins’ arguments.

  3. 3.

    There are interesting discussions arising around the notion of the distributed curriculum that have a particular resonance with this aspect of a Deweyan view of higher education. I would refer readers to Robert J. Starratt’s notion of community as curriculum (Starrat 2002) and Dave Cormier’s concept of rhizomatic education (Cormier 2008).


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Correspondence to Aaron Stoller.

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Aaron Stoller is the author of Knowing and Learning as Creative Action: A Reexamination of the Epistemological Foundations of Education (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014). He lives in Colorado Springs, CO, USA, where he teaches at Colorado College and directs the first year experience program.

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Stoller, A. The Flipped Curriculum: Dewey’s Pragmatic University. Stud Philos Educ 37, 451–465 (2018).

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  • John Dewey
  • Higher education
  • Pedagogy
  • Curriculum
  • Inquiry