Thinking and Rethinking the University : The selected works of Ronald Barnett book cover
1st Edition

Thinking and Rethinking the University
The selected works of Ronald Barnett

ISBN 9781138785083
Published January 30, 2017 by Routledge
292 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In the World Library of Educationalists series, international scholars compile career-long selections of what they judge to be among their finest pieces so the world has access to them in a single manageable volume. Readers are able to follow the themes and strands and see how their work contributes to the development of the field.

Over more than three decades, Professor Ronald Barnett has acquired a distinctive position as a leading philosopher of the university and higher education, and this volume brings together 15 of his key writings, particularly papers from leading journals. This volume also includes, as his introductory chapter, an intellectual autobiography, in which Professor Barnett recounts the history of his scholarship and writing, traces its development across five stages, and identifies the themes and sources of inspiration that lie within his corpus of work.

Ronald Barnett has described his corpus of work as a social philosophy of the university that is at once conceptual, critical, practical and imaginative. His concepts of criticality, critical interdisciplinarity, supercomplexity and the ecological university have been taken up in the literature across the world. Through telling examples, and with an incisive clarity of writing, Ronald Barnett’s scholarship has helped to illuminate in fresh ways and reorient practices in the university and in higher education. The chapters in this volume reveal all of these qualities so making this volume a compelling overview of a passionate and yet constructive critic of the university.

Table of Contents



Part 1: The University

  1. Supercomplexity and the University
  2. Situating the Learning University
  3. Recapturing the Universal in the University
  4. The Idea of the University in the Twenty-First Century: Where’s the Imagination?
  5. The Coming of the Ecological University

    Part 2: Higher Education

  7. Higher Education: legitimation crisis
  8. Does Higher Education have Aims?
  9. Convergence in Higher Education: The Strange Case of Entrepreneurialism
  10. The Purpose of Higher Education and the Changing Face of Academia
  11. Institutions of Higher Education: purposes and ‘performance indicators’

    Part 3: Students and learning

  13. Supercomplexity and the Curriculum
  14. Learning about Learning: a conundrum and a possible resolution
  15. Being and Becoming: a student trajectory
  16. Learning for an Unknown Future
  17. Configuring Learning Spaces: Noticing the Invisible




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Ronald Barnett is Emeritus Professor of Higher Education at the Institute of Education, London.


Ronald Barnett is a well known, and sometimes controversial, voice in the world of Higher Education and this important selection comes from his writing spanning 30 years.