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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

The Future of the University - Public Lecture series

We live in an age of uncertainty. Universities, in particular, live in an age of uncertainty. Descended perhaps from the Platonic Academy, universities used to be elite and autonomous institutions, both academically and socially. But universities rightly, even after the influential idealistic reforms of Wilhelm von Humboldt and Cardinal Newman, always also retained the valid mediaeval and Enlightenment tradition of professional training in instrumental modes of knowledge. In Britain, we have experienced waves of expansion, not only after the Robbins Report in 1964, but also under the Blair government’s knowledge economy widening of access, which aspired to admit 50% of each school-leaving generation to university. This has been accompanied by the dissolution of the binary system with the emergence of former Polytechnics as New Universities. In recent years universities, and not only in the UK, have in the context of new economic priorities been required to seek funding through greatly increased fees on an American model, to seek research funding through increased collaboration with third parties, and to face the challenges of both digitally-based modes of study and wholly private competitor institutions. More recently still, there is emerging a new global market, beyond Europe and North America, where distinguished emergent universities are already competing for student customers. And now Brexit looms.

In the face of this rapidly changing landscape, urging instant adaptive response, it is too easy to discount fundamental questions. What is the university now for? What is it, what can it be, what should it be? Are the visions of Humboldt and Newman still valid? If so, how? University College Durham and the Institute of Advanced Study are jointly mounting a series of lectures over 2017-2018 by leading world figures on the university and political stages, who will deliver a public lecture in the Great Hall of the Castle, and in many cases conduct seminars with Durham and other colleagues. The lectures will be published. Speakers include Professor Peter Coveney, and Lord David Willetts, and Professor N.Kate Halyes among others.

These lectures are free and open to all, and are on a first come, first served basis. The series will be held in the Great Hall at University College (Durham Castle). Doors will open at 7.45pm. For directions see this linked Map . University College (Castle) is denoted as building number: 23. For further information contact the IAS (enquiries.ias@durham.ac.uk).

Programme

13 December 2017, 8.00pm, Great Hall, University College
Professor Peter Coveney, Professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of the Centre for Computational Science (University College London)
The Future of Scientific Research in U.K. Universities

13 December 2017, 8.00pm, Great Hall, University College
Professor Peter Coveney, Professor of Physical Chemistry and Director of the Centre for Computational Science (University College London)
The Future of Scientific Research in U.K. Universities

8 February 2018, 8.00pm, Great Hall, University College
The Rt Hon. the Lord David Willetts
A University Education

30 May 2018, 8.00pm, Senate Suite, University College
Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice Chancellor (Durham University)
The Uses and Misuses of Universities

7 March 2018, 8.00pm, Great Hall, University College
Professor N. Katherine Hayles (Duke University)
Universities at the Crossroads: Directing Cultural Transformations