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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Evidence and Insight: In Search of the Distinctiveness of the University as a Site of Knowledge Production


There is a gamble taking place with the future of universities and tackling the issue of what makes these institutions distinctive as a site of knowledge production is core to their future prosperity. It is surprising, however, how little attention is given to this issue. The university is being forged in the name of particular interests and in the process frustrated ambitions often align to unrealisable expectations and, from there, the path to cynical resignation is open. Tackling this is not for the university alone. Those outside the confines of research communities and who are frequently marginalised from public consideration need to be more involved: not in the tokenism that often informs participation but in deliberations and decisions that mobilise knowledge. This is not easy given the power imbalances that exist, but it is also where imaginative possibilities can be produced. This article examines these changes over time and concludes with a call for ‘active intermediation’ in knowledge production, not as an exception but an institutionally embedded set of practices with implications not only for the university but for what constitutes a successful university career.


Vol 10 Article 14