Being a University

By Ronald Barnett

© 2011 – Routledge

188 pages

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Paperback: 9780415592680
pub: 2010-10-01
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e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

There is no single idea of the university. Ever since its medieval origin, the concept of the university has continued to change. The metaphysical university gave way successively to the scientific university, and then to the corporate and the entrepreneurial university. But what, then, might lie ahead?

Being a University both charts this conceptual development and examines the future possibilities for the idea of the university. Ronald Barnett pursues this quest through an exploration of pairs of contending concepts that speak to the idea of the university – such as space and time; being and becoming; and culture and anarchy. On this foundation is developed an imaginative exposition of possible ideas of the university, including the liquid university and the authentic university.

In the course of this inquiry, it is argued that:

  • Any thought that the idea of the entrepreneurial university represents the end-point of the evolution of the idea of the university has to be abandoned. The entrepreneurial university is excessively parochial and ill-matched to the challenges facing the university
  • A responsibility of the university is precisely that of working out an imaginative conception of its future possibilities. The boldest and largest thinking is urgently required
  • The fullest expression of the university’s possibilities lies in a reclamation of the universal aspirations that lay in earlier ideas of the university. The ecological university represents just such a universal aspiration, suited to the unfolding demands of the future.

Being a University will be of wide interest, to institutional leaders and managers, higher education planners, academics in all disciplines and students of higher education, in educational policy and politics, and the philosophy, sociology and theory of education, and indeed, anyone who believes in the future of the university.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Being Possible Part 1: Stages of Being 1. The Metaphysical University 2. The Scientific University 3. The Entrepreneurial University 4. The Bureaucratic University Part 2: Contending Concepts 5. Being and Becoming 6. Space and Time 7. Culture and Anarchy 8. Authenticity and Responsibility Part 3: Becoming Possible 9. The Liquid University 10. The Therapeutic University 11. The Authentic University 12. The Ecological University Coda: The Spirit of the University

About the Author

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

About the Series

Foundations and Futures of Education

Peter Aggleton, UNSW, Australia
Sally Power, University of Cardiff, UK 
Michael Reiss, Institute of Education, University of London, UK

Foundations and Futures of Education focuses on key emerging issues in education as well as continuing debates within the field. The series is inter-disciplinary, and includes historical, philosophical, sociological, psychological and comparative perspectives on the purposes and nature of education; increasing interdisciplinarity within the field; and the theory-practice divide.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDU015000
EDUCATION / Higher
EDU034000
EDUCATION / Educational Policy & Reform / General