The Future University

30 June 2011 - 2 July 2011

Law Faculty, Sidwick Site, University of Cambridge



Please click here for all the videos from this conference.

Conference convener


Professor Mary Jacobus (CRASSH, University of Cambridge)



The current year’s theme will culminate in a major Mellon-funded conference at the end of June 2011: ‘The Future University’ - not ‘the Future of the University’ (over which the new ‘austerity’ looms alarmingly), but its evolving character and changing concerns, especially in the digital age. The conference will address post-disciplinary developments along with policy implications, as well as the catalyst provided by the creative and performing arts on one hand, and the social sciences on the other, when it comes to rethinking the very basis of ‘the Future University’ as a place where education and research (including practice-based research) remain vitally inter-connected within the broad field we know as the Humanities.

Panels will consider musical performance and creative practice, the reorientation of old disciplines in new regions, the relation between universities as they are or might be, and between digitality and democracy, higher education policy and the humanities, the role of ‘the human’ in global literature, and a range of literacies that include both digital literacy and the literate eye in looking at and writing about art. Keynotes will address ‘Digital Technologies and the Conditional University’ (Bernard Stiegler, Pompidou Centre) and ‘The Impact of International History’ (Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy).

The programme will also feature a musical performance event called ‘Improvisation in the Round’, a panel discussion on ‘The Fate of the Humanities’, and a closing panel at the Fitzwilliam Museum on the role of the University Art Museum.

Please click on the link at the right hand side of the page to see the programme.





This conference is convened by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities as part of the Mellon-funded Consortium of Centres of Disciplinary Innovation (CDI) at CRASSH. CRASSH is grateful for the support of the Andrew W Mellon Foundation.






Accommodation for non-paper giving participants

Conference participants can find information about accommodation in Cambridge at the following URLs:
NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.



Administrative assistance: Helga Brandt (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)






Thursday 30 June Faculty of Law, Sidgwick Site

from 9.00

 Registration open (Atrium)

Lecture Room LG17

Graduate Research and the Future University
Groups of graduate students and faculty working together with a common interdisciplinary research interest.

9.15 - 10.45

Lecture Room LG17

Session 1: Redrawing the Boundaries: Graduate/ Faculty Research Groups

Chair: Judy Brown (Slavonic Studies, Cambridge)   

Welcome and Introduction: Zeynep Gürtin-Broadbent (Centre for Family Research, Cambridge)

Highlighting some of the areas in which the groups serve their members and the University more broadly, the panel will draw on the ways in which a range of the interdisciplinary graduate/faculty research groups supported by CRASSH have provided spaces for innovation, collaboration and transformation in their fields.

10.45 - 11.15

Tea and coffee (Atrium)

11.15 - 12.15

Lecture Room LG17

Session 2: Sustaining Graduate Innovation: A Conversation

Bradon Smith (English, Cambridge)
Dacia Viejo Rose (Archaeology, Cambridge)
The Graduate/Faculty research groups have potential to foster innovative work that reaches outside the university and to create legacies beyond their active lives. This session will explore the opportunities presented by these groups, and lead a discussion on what forms such legacies can take, how they can best be maintained, and what lessons this collaborative model may offer for the Future University

12.15 - 13.00


13.00 - 14.00

Lecture Room LG17 

Chair: Ian Patterson (English, Cambridge)

Catherine Porter (Modern Languages; President, MLA, 2009)
Translation: Theory and Practice in the Modern Language Department


14.15 - 14.30

Lecture Room LG17


The Future University

Welcome and introduction: The Humanities Now

Chair: Mary Jacobus (English, Director, CRASSH)

Simon Franklin (Slavonic Studies, Head of School, Arts & Humanities)   
William Brown (Economics, Head of School, Humanities & Social Sciences)

14.30 - 16.00

Lecture Room LG17

Musical Performance and Creative Practice

Chair: Jennifer Barnes (President, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge)

Nicholas Cook (Music, Cambridge)
Music as Creative Practice

Eric Clarke (Music, Oxford)
Thinking/Doing/Making Music

16.00 - 16.30

Tea and coffee (Atrium)

16.30 - 18.00

Lecture Room LG17


Chair: Martin Crowley (MML, Cambridge)

Bernard Stiegler (Philosophy, Centre Pompidou)
The Pharmacology of Mind: Digital Technologies and the Conditional University 

18.15 - 19.30

Faculty of English, Sidgwick Site

Reception and buffet supper (Atrium foyer)

19.45 - 21.30

West Road Concert Hall

Improvisation in the Round

Presented in association with the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice

Chair: John Rink (Music, University of Cambridge) in conversation and performance with:    

Paula Chateauneuf, lute (The Division Lobby and the University of Birmingham)

Stevie Wishart , violin and hurdy-gurdy

'Faint':  Franziska Schroeder, saxophone; Pedro Rebelo, piano; Steve Davis, drums (Queen's University Belfast)  


Friday 1 July Faculty of Law, Sidgwick Site

9.30 - 11.00

Lecture Room LG18

Reorienting the Disciplines

Chair: Sujit Sivasundaran (History, Cambridge)

Simon Schaffer (HPS, Cambridge)
Disciplines and Disorientation

Megan Vaughan (History, Centre for African Studies, Cambridge)
Disciplining Science in Africa

11.00 - 11.30

Tea and coffee (Atrium)

11.30 - 13.00

Lecture Room LG18

Universities, Democracy, and Digitality

Chair: James Chandler (English, Franke Center for the Humanities, Chicago) 

Nigel Thrift (Geography, Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick)
Universities as they Are and as they Might Be

Danielle Allen (Social Sciences,

Institute for Advanced Study)
Strong Ties: Why Democracies still need Universities in the Digital Age

13.00 - 14.00

Lunch (Atrium)

14.00 - 15.15

Lecture Room LG18


Chair: Duncan Bell (Politics and International Relations, POLIS)

Sir Adam Roberts (International Relations, President, British Academy)
The Impact of International History 

15.15 - 15.30

Tea and Coffee (Atrium)

15.30 - 17.00

Lecture Room LG18

Higher Education Policy and the Humanities

Chair: Stefan Collini (English, Cambridge)

Chris Newfield (English, UC Santa Barbara)
Refunding the Humanities: the Case for Succession

Michael Kenny (Politics, University of Sheffield)
Higher Education Policy in the UK: What can we Learn from the Longer View? 

: Philip Lewis (Mellon Foundation)

17.15 - 18.45

Lecture Room LG18

Panel Discussion: The Fate of the Humanities

ChairGeoffrey Crossick (Vice-Chancellor, University of London)

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz (Vice-Chancellor, University of Cambridge)
Mary Margaret McCabe (Philosophy, King's College London)
Nicola Miller (History, UCL)
Don Randel (President, Mellon Foundation)
Sir Adam Roberts (President, British Academy)   
Richard Sennett (NYU, LSE)



Saturday 2 July Faculty of Law, Sidgwick Site

9.15 - 10.45

Lecture Room LG18

Global Literature and the Human 

Chair: Shruti Kapila (History, Cambridge)

Debjani Ganguly (Post-Colonial Studies, Director, Humanities Research Centre, ANU)
What is the 'World' in World Literature?

Joseph Slaughter (English and Comparative Literature, Columbia)
Pathetic Fallacies: the Human, Human Rights, and the Humanities    

10.45 - 11.15

Tea and coffee (Atrium)

11.15 - 12.45

Lecture Room LG18

Digital Literacies

Chair: Anne Alexander (Politics, CRASSH)

Cathy Davidson (English, Digital Futures, Duke University)
Digital Literacies and the Future of the Humanities  

Alan Liu (English, UC Santa Barbara)
The State of the Digital Humanities: A Report and a Critique

12.45 - 13.45

Lunch  (Atrium)

13.45 - 15.15

Lecture Room LG18

Art Literacy

Chair: Alyce Mahon (Art History, Cambridge)

Marina Warner (

Literature and Creative Writing, Essex University)
Seeing Feelingly: the Literate Eye 

Joseph Koerner (Art History, Harvard)
Disastrous Looks: Teaching Hieronymus Bosch


16.00 - 17.45

Finale at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Trumpington Street
Panel Discussion: The University Art Museum - What Difference Does it Make?

Chair: Timothy Potts (Director, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)

Joseph Koerner (Art History, Harvard)
Deborah Swallow (Director, Courtauld Institute)
Mariët Westermann (Vice-President, Mellon Foundation)
Sir Nicholas Serota (Director, Tate Museums)


Reception at the Fitzwilliam Museum