Mark Olssen

Mark Olssen

Professor of Social Philosophy
School of Education

Professor Mark Olssen is a sociologist who specialises in social and political philosophy, neoliberalism (including globalisation) and ethics in relation to higher education policy.

He is interested in the development of market-driven criteria for traditionally non-market areas such as higher education and looks at the use of appraisals, audits and targets. “It’s a question of having a meaningful concept of the public good which can generate sensible and meaningful criteria of accountability rather than marketing criteria.”

As a senior lecturer at Otago University, Professor Olssen gained international attention in the 1980s when he challenged the marketization of universities; an outlook that impelled him to leave New Zealand as it embarked on deregulation and restructuring of state-owned institutions.

He moved to United Kingdom and taught at the University of Surrey and developed a special interest in the French philosopher Michel Foucault. “In relation to education Foucault offers a critical approach to understanding the world and the ubiquity of power.”

He has several major books including Toward a Global Thin Community: Nietzsche, Foucault and the Cosmopolitan Commitment (2008) and Education Policy: Globalisation, Citizenship and Democracy (2004), co-authored with John Codd and Anne-Marie O’Neill from Massey University. In 2010, he was made a Fellow of the British Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of his ‘eminent standing as a social scientist.’