1st Edition

Towards the Virtuous University
The Moral Bases of Academic Practice

ISBN 9780415875141
Published July 9, 2009 by Routledge
180 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

A good university is invariably assumed to be one which is managerially effective in terms of its economic efficiency, and is judged in terms of entrepreneurialism, self-promotion and competitive innovation. This book argues that in the majority of institutions, these goals are being pursued to the exclusion of academic excellence and public service. It proposes that there is a marked lack of intellectual leadership at senior management level within HE institutions and that academic workers must assume responsibility for the moral purposefulness of their institutions. This will not be a retreat into the old values of an elitist 'ivory tower', but a rejection of the current deeply stratified university system which prematurely selects students for differentiated institutional streams.

Table of Contents

List of figures

Preface and acknowledgements

Chapter 1 Universities as civic spaces

  • The structure of the book
  • Troubled times
  • Civic spaces, civic leadership
  • Academic professionalism: a changing profession
  • Conclusion

Chapter 2 Universities as places of learning

  • Stratification, fractionalisation and atomisation
  • Management, money and marketing!
  • Change from the inside-out
  • Academic professionalism: a learning profession
  • Conclusion

Chapter 3 Universities as deliberative spaces

  • A failure of nerve
  • Reclaiming a sense of purpose
  • Whose freedom? Whose spaces?
  • Academic professionalism: a profession of values
  • Conclusion

Chapter 4 Truthfulness: accuracy and sincerity

  • The Socratic legacy
  • The virtues in practice
  • The notion of truthfulness
  • The integrity of practice: truthfulness
  • Conclusion

Chapter 5 Respect: attentiveness and honesty

  • The notion of respect
  • Respect as recognition
  • Attentiveness and honesty
  • The integrity of practice: respect
  • Conclusion

Chapter 6 Authenticity: courage and compassion

  • The notion of authenticity
  • Authenticity and the emotions
  • Courage and compassion
  • The integrity of practice: authenticity
  • Conclusion

Chapter 7 Magnanimity: autonomy and care

  • The notion of magnanimity
  • Towards a cosmopolitan magnanimity
  • Autonomy and care
  • The integrity of practice: magnanimity
  • Conclusion

Chapter 8 Relationships of virtue

  • The social content of hope
  • The notion of virtuous relationships
  • Inter-personal conditions for virtual relationships
  • Actualising relationships of virtue
  • Conclusion

Chapter 9 Virtuous institutions

  • Beyond decency
  • The cost of utopia
  • The conditions for institutional flourishing
  • Working towards a good society
  • Conclusion


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"Jon Nixon's Toward the Virtuous University is indispensable reading for anyone concerned about the future of higher education. The philosophical underpinnings that shape Nixon's arguments are a refreshing articulation of how important and connected universities, academic practice, and our evolving society are." -- Bryan Gopaul, Academic Matters, January 8, 2009