Thinking and Rethinking the University: The selected works of Ronald Barnett, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Thinking and Rethinking the University

The selected works of Ronald Barnett, 1st Edition

By Ronald Barnett


278 pages | 4 B/W Illus.

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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




About the Author

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

About the Series

World Library of Educationalists

The World Library of Educationalists celebrates the important contributions to education made by leading experts in their individual fields of study. Each scholar has compiled a career-long collection of what they consider to be their finest pieces: extracts from books, journals, articles, major theoretical and practical contributions, and salient research findings.

For the first time ever the work of each contributor is presented in a single volume so readers can follow the themes and progress of their work and identify the contributions made to, and the development of, the fields themselves.

The distinguished careers of the selected experts span at least two decades and include Richard Aldrich, Stephen J. Ball, Elliot W. Eisner, John Elliott, Howard Gardner, John Gilbert, Ivor F. Goodson, David Hargreaves, David Labaree and E.C. Wragg.

Each book in the series features a specially written introduction by the contributor giving an overview of their career, contextualizing their selection within the development of the field, and showing how their own thinking developed over time.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Research