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Lecture will debate the future of universities

Lecture will debate the future of universities

Cambridge University’s Professor Stefan Collini, a world leader in intellectual history and English literature, is giving a public lecture on the future of universities at the University of Auckland Titled “What’s happening to universities? Historical and comparative perspectives” Professor Collini will debate universities in democratic societies.

“Democratic societies rightly expect universities to be in some sense 'accountable'. But how do we measure intellectual quality? How do we argue for the public value of education and research?” Professor Collini says.

“At present, the dominant pressure is to try to find quantitative indicators of contribution to economic growth and similar immediate goals. This lecture raises some questions about both the processes and the purposes of the current form of 'accountability', and tries to propose some different ways to characterise the value of universities to society.”

In recent years, universities across the world have been experiencing dramatic changes in their forms of funding, assessment, and governance, leaving many (both inside and outside these institutions) alarmed and disoriented.

In this lecture, Professor Collini will attempt to place these changes in a comparative and historical perspective, examining some of the forms taken by the complex dialectical relation between universities and their host societies over the past hundred years or more. He then goes on to consider the assumptions underlying current policy and to ask what kinds of university we can expect to see develop in the twenty-first century.

Professor Collini has become one of the most distinctive and respected voices in public debates about the nature of universities and their place in modern society, especially following the publication in 2012 of What Are Universities For?, while Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain (2006), is a major analysis of the role of the intellectual and its place in British culture. His other books include Public Moralists (1991), Matthew Arnold: a Critical Portrait (1994), English Pasts: Essays in History and Culture (1999), and Common Reading: Critics, Historians, Publics (2008). He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a frequent contributor to The Guardian, The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, and other publications, as well as an occasional broadcaster. He is Professor of English Literature and Intellectual History at Cambridge University.

Professor Collini’s lecture is on Tuesday 7 October, 6.30pm Engineering Building (Room 401-439) The University of Auckland.

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