The Ethical Assumptions in Higher Education

  • Rui Pedro Lopes
  • Cristina Mesquita
  • Amador Durán-Sánchez
  • Juan R. Coca
Part of the Studies on Entrepreneurship, Structural Change and Industrial Dynamics book series (ESID)


Higher Education Institutions (HEI) have been challenged to rethink their action and to adequate their mission to new contemporary realities. These challenges have been posed by the characteristics of democratic societies which led to the expansion of compulsory schooling, increased cultural, ethnical and gender diversity of students, and also the volatility, internationalization of labour market, and by the ephemerality of knowledge caused by accelerated scientific and technological development.

Considering this perspective, it is the responsibility of HEI to support the development of knowledge and skills that allows young people to make free and ethic choices, based on shared values, including respect and participation. Living in society, at the macro, meso or micro level, requires technical and scientific knowledge, enabling individuals to pursue a profession, contribute for their integration, independence and autonomy, and to contribute to the social and economic development. This requires complex competences that empowers them to take ethical decisions in their profession and in their lives, assume and share responsibilities, to respect diversity and differences of perspective, to negotiate, to build consensus and relations of reciprocity. HEIs should include these ethical assumptions in their actions and organizational practices, making visible the values of freedom, equality, equity and solidarity. The incorporation of these ethical principles becomes more challenging at micro level, in the context of the classroom.

This chapter describes the ethical challenges that teacher/researcher faces during the teaching-learning process and his interaction with all the actors and how they can be applied in a teaching-learning activity. A case study is also presented, with two teachers and 40 students of an Informatics Engineering and 35 students of Basic Education programme. It highlights the importance of supporting pedagogical innovation in higher education, based on strong ethical foundations and on the development of collective learning goals and a shared vision.


Ethics Teaching-learning Social commitment Higher education Student’s agency 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rui Pedro Lopes
    • 1
  • Cristina Mesquita
    • 2
  • Amador Durán-Sánchez
    • 3
  • Juan R. Coca
    • 4
  1. 1.Research Center on Digitalization and Intelligent RoboticsInstituto Politécnico de BragançaBragançaPortugal
  2. 2.Research Center on Basic EducationInstituto Politécnico de BragançaBragançaPortugal
  3. 3.Economy Department, Faculty of Economics and BusinessUniversity of ExtremaduraBadajozSpain
  4. 4.Faculty of Education of Soria, Department of Sociology and Social WorkUniversity of ValladolidSoriaSpain

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