Ontological Reflections on the Contemporary University

Being Real about the University

A recording of the inaugural seminar in the Ontological Reflections on the Contemporary University seminar series given by Professor Ronald Barnett (19 January 2023) is available online on the PaTHES (Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society) website.

Here is the abstract:

To speak of ontology in the context of the university is to posit a real that is beyond the university. But more, it is to suggest that this real affects the university: it has force and powers. However, this real is not easily apprehended for it operates at hidden levels. And there may be malevolent forces working in those layers that may be steering the university in problematic ways. Three issues arise: First, what is the character of this real? Where is it located? Is it mainly material – present say in the economy and the technological realms – or does it have a more metaphysical or even theological character? Second, might we conjure the idea of multiple ontologies of the university? Third, to what extent can the university find an autonomous space amid its ontological setting? Does it even have responsibilities in that regard? This is what I shall contend.

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Ronald Barnett

Ronald Barnett is Emeritus Professor of Higher Education, University College London. He is the inaugural President of the Philosophy and Theory in Higher Education Society. His recent books include The Philosophy of Higher Education: A Critical Introduction (Routledge, 2022)