22 Jun 2018 9:30am - 5:00pm GR06/07 Faculty of English, Sidgwick Site


Online registration for this event is now open. To book your place please click here or use the online registration link on this page. The fee is £20 standard and £10 for students or unwaged. This includes lunch and refreshments.

When describing our lives in the modern university we often use language of civic displacement, of nostalgia for a past if imperfectly known community. It is all too easy to give in to a sense of academic exile from an romanticised past into our troubled present. But the ideal of an academic polis is no nostalgic romance: from 1603 to 1950, for example, the University of Cambridge was its own constituency, with its own MP. A notion of citizenship, with rights and obligations of its own, underpinned the legal status of students and faculty, while an ideal of academic citizenship framed their relationships to each other, as the custodians of an institution second in age only to the Church of Rome.

How actual academic communities and the cultural ideal of academic citizenship developed and interacted since the Middle Ages depended on numerous factors, of course, but the persistence and recent recurrence of the language of academic civics speaks to our sense of continuity across centuries.

This symposium considers the extent to which academic citizenship is a valid concept for thinking about life and work in modern universities: specifically, the idea of a body politic; the rights and responsibilities of Universities to individuals within them; the rights and responsibilities of individuals to each other and to institutions; and the relationship of each to the societies that sustain them. Our first task will be descriptive, considering past and present typologies of the university in relation to its polis.

But the point of this meeting is to move beyond diagnosis to explore avenues of concrete action: to what extent could the idea carry in the context of global, plural, and often competing models of being an academic? What could academic citizenship look like NOW? Rather, academic *citizenships*?  And what mechanisms might be adequate for enabling conscientious voices to help shape the future of their institution? Together we will work towards a better understanding of the academic polis and its importance now.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers
Professor David Berry (Sussex)
Professor Rens Bod (Universiteit van Amsterdam)
Professor Christopher Newfield (UCSB)
Dr Jan-Melissa Schramm (CRASSH)
Dr Watu Wamae (Cambridge)
Professor John Wood CBE, FREng (ATTRACT; previously Association of Commonwealth Universities)

Dr Alison Wood (CRASSH, Cambridge)
Dr Richard Oosterhoff (CRASSH, Cambridge)
Dr Theodor W Dunkelgrün (CRASSH, Cambridge)


For administrative enquiries please contact Michelle Maciejewska.

This event is being funded by the Mellon Foundation.





Dr Alison Wood (University of Cambridge(


Academic Citizenship: Why?

Professor Rens Bod (Universiteit van Amsterdam)

Professor Christopher Newfield (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Chair: Dr Theodor Dunkelgrün (University of Cambridge)


Coffee break


Academic Citizenship: How?

Professor David Berry (University of Sussex)

Dr Alison Wood (University of Cambridge)

Chair: Dr Richard Oosterhoff (University of Cambridge)




Academic Citizenship: Now?

Dr Watu Wamae (University of Cambridge)

Dr Jan-Melissa Schramm (University of Cambridge)

Professor John Wood CBE, FREng (ATTRACT; previously Association of Commonwealth Universities)

Chair: Dr Alison Wood


Drinks reception


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk