The Idea of a University Reading Group

26 May 2015, 14:00 - 15:30

CLAS Meeting Room, 204, Second Floor, Alison Richard Building

What I would say about today is that we are living through a point in history of Western academia so momentous it’s hard for us to wrap our minds around it – namely the effectual end of universities as centres of human critique, the effectual end of an enormously rich and diverse and valuable tradition, which has always had to struggle to carve out a task for itself that is often at odds with the priorities of society.” (Terry Eagleton in Third Way, 39, (2015), 25)

Thinking well about Universities – their purpose, their forms, their values  – has once again become one of the important things to do. We hope that this reading group will offer some space in which to do that thinking. Specifically, to:

  • increase our knowledge and understanding of the current state of Universities (for example: a sense of loss is a recurring idea amongst younger academics. But a loss of what? What are the sources of this sometimes-desperate elegy?)
  • understand more about the history of Universities, particularly in the British context
  • interrogate some of our assumptions about what Universities are, what they are for, and the major pressures they face
  • understand how and why the current debates on the future of Universities matter to us – our responsibilities and capacity for influence and change.

Tea, coffee and biscuits provided; and readings available by clicking on the Readings Tab

The University in Ruins?

Dominik LaCapra “The University in Ruins?” Critical Inquiry 25.1 (Autumn 1998): 32-55

Bill Readings. The University in Ruins. Harvard University Press, 1996. Ch 2. ‘The Idea of Excellence’ (21-43)

Hefei Statement on “The Ten Characteristics of Contemporary Research Universities”. Announced by the League of European Research Universities (LERU), the Association of American Universities (AAU), the Consortium of China Research Universities (C9) and the Group of Eight Australia (Go8). Munich, October 2013. (6 pages)