Discursive Enactments of Knowledge Production in Engineering Education

Anders Buch*, Loren Mark Ramsay, Hanne Løje

*Corresponding author for this work

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Engineering education is under the sway of wide-ranging dynamics and drifts that have bearing on how education is enacted in relation to the research and innovation obligations of universities. Academic, applied, and third mission drifts seem to configure higher education in new ways. The article sets out to critically explore how knowledge production is discursively enacted in the teaching-research-practice-nexus in engineering universities of applied science (UAS) in Denmark. This paradigmatic case study maps discursive positionings and discusses how these positionings aspire to transform engineering education in the light of the wide-ranging drifts in higher education. Based on 17 qualitative in-depth interviews with researchers, teachers, and managers, the article maps the discursive positions taken and not-taken in relation to the enactment of the teaching-research-practice-nexus. The exploration is guided by a theory-method-package inspired by situational analysis and interviewing methods developed in practice-based approaches as interview-to-the-double. The analysis identifies four discursive positions in the teaching-research-practice-nexus that enact knowledge production in engineering UAS differently. Furthermore, three unavailable discursive positions are identified. Interpretive flexibility makes different discursive enactments of knowledge production possible. The study concludes that (1) that the primary mission of UAS in Denmark is teaching; research and engagement with practice are subordinate missions; (2) that the applied and third mission drift has been effective in instituting alternative discursive enactments; (3) some positions are seemingly discursively illegitimate. The undisputability of the educational mission – and the applied and third mission drifts – seems to effectively outweigh academic drift in the Danish UAS.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEngineering Studies
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)195-215
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Engineering education
  • Higher education
  • Research to practice
  • Discourse analysis
  • Education policy


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