Policy what policy considering the university in thetwenty first century
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Sub-brand to go here. Policy, what Policy? Considering the University in theTwenty-first Century. Ronald Barnett, Institute of Education, London Seminar, CHET, University of British Colombia 16 October , 2013. Centre for Higher Education Studies. Starting point.

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Policy what policy considering the university in thetwenty first century

Sub-brand to go here

Policy, what Policy? Considering the University in theTwenty-first Century

Ronald Barnett, Institute of Education, London

Seminar, CHET, University of British Colombia

16 October, 2013

Centre for Higher

Education Studies


Starting point

Starting point

  • Across the world, common agreement on what it is to be a university and the way ahead:

  • Entrepreneurialism (‘the entrepreneurial university’)

  • Global knowledge economy

  • Research - and its ‘impact’ + collaboration, esp trans-national collaboration

  • Internationalisation

  • ‘Excellence’ in teaching (backed by national audit agencies)

  • Learning understood as skills for global economy (and global positioning)

  • Challenge of students – their learning/ their ‘satisfaction’

  • Capitalising on new technology (MOOCs/ super-computing)

  • Academic staff – resources to be managed

  • Use of private sector

  • Personal benefits of higher education (lifetime earnings supplement)

  • Change and innovation (mega background theme)


Global consensus

Global consensus?

  • This framework – give or take – is to be seen across the world

  • From Beijing to Washington, from London to Santiago, from Bonn (?) to Ottawa (?) and from Johannesburg to Canberra

    • ie, in both developed and developing worlds

    • Mantras

    • Access

    • Diversity

    • Impact

    • ‘World-class’

    • World league tables


Inner tensions

Inner tensions

  • Bureaucratic management and entrepreneurialism (nos of managers, administrators, technicians …)

  • Particularities and universalities (‘university’)

  • From internalist conception to externalist conception of University – but tension as beween the economic and the social

  • Public and private (in its various manifestations)

  • Uniformity (of ‘world-classness’) and diversity

  • Institutional autonomy and state steering


So how understand the apparent consensus

So how understand the apparent consensus?

Despite its incoherence:

  • A kind of global ‘discursive regime’

  • (as implied) institutional leaders, politicians, planners, think-tank researchers can speak to each other;

  • They speak the same language

  • Is this a global policy framework?

  • Or is it perhaps a taken-for-granted set of axioms and assumptions

  • A reflection of a global digital capitalism …?


Considerations the passing of the university

Considerations – the passing of ‘the University’

  • A falling away

  • The passing of the liberal university

  • Privatisation; corporatisation (neoliberalism, NPM, surveillance, measurement …)

  • Postmodernism; philosophy of incoherence; no stable place; just alternative ‘lines of flight’ and ‘re-territorialisation’

  • A double undermining – sociologically and philosophically (and these have run into each other – in a social theory of spaces)


Policy framework or policy vacuum

Policy framework – or policy vacuum?

  • The grand picture

  • Dissolving idea of university

  • Emerging of global university as an institution

  • (Corporate university/ entrepreneurial university/ digital university)

  • Global forces – generative deep structures (Bhaskar)

  • So ‘policy’ has become a tinkering within this global university envelope

  • A bit more marketisation, a bit more institutional liberty, a bit more onus on student-as-customer, a bit more of digitalisation, a larger private sector …


What of diversity

What of ‘diversity’?

  • No government in the world has used its leverage seriously to stimulate diversity

  • UK

  • Universities are not required to come forward with imaginative alternatives

  • This is not accidental

  • Universities are to the contrary expected and steered to fall in line as global universities


The possibility of possibilities

The possibility of possibilities

  • The university now has possibilities before it

  • The possibility of possibilities

  • The idea of the idea gives rise to the possibility of possibilities

  • Possibilities – projections; imaginative creations

  • Now the university can become itself for the first time

  • - and realize its utopian potential.


The big ditch

The big ditch

  • Not (here) idea and institution as such

  • But between empirical institution and its possibilities

  • Here enters the imagination – in identifying possibilities


An inevitable remainder

An inevitable remainder

  • The university is always less than it can be

  • Always short of its possibilities

  • The concept – now imagined – opens a gap

  • Always a beyond

  • A double remainder

  • - between ‘reality’ and idea

  • - between ‘reality’ and possibilities in the future


Universities as in spaces

Universities as/ in spaces

  • UCL– hopes/ projects of a/the university

    • ‘wisdom’ as a universal theme

    • ‘Non-representation’

    • ‘Space of reason’ (Bakhurst/ Sellars)

    • Closing/ opening

    • Where is the university? It slips away, elusive

    • The university as (a) squid (abandon the metaphor of ‘rhyzome’!)

    • ‘Thinking spaces’ (Thrift) – in ‘new time-space arrangements’ – ‘spaces of inspiration incorporating many possible worlds’

    • But still within a set of universal categories – is it possible?


Textures of the university

Textures of the university

  • The perniciousness – and the limits – of measurement

  • Will the university surrender its possibilities – of poetry, beauty, graciousness, hope, spirit …?

  • ‘The lightness/ heaviness of being …’

  • ‘parallax’ – ‘where the two elements never meet precisely because they are one and the same element in two different spaces’ (like two sides of a Mobius strip) – SZ, 159


Appearance or reality or appearance as reality

Appearance or reality OR appearance as reality?

  • The event is the thing

  • (When I teach, how is a teaching session to be understood?)

  • (But) the event is unlimited

  • It contains within itself both the seeds of its destruction and the seeds of its epiphany; of its transfiguration

    • ‘an event is nothing but a part of a given situation, nothing but a fragment of being’. (Badiou in Zizek)

    • ‘what if the emergence of thought is the ultimate Event?’


Schizophrenic university

Schizophrenic university

  • 1st position: The university lives in the space between its facticity and its possibilities (reality and idea)

  • 2nd position: its facticity and its possibilities are not separate realms but are part of the totality of the university (its members live their (academic) lives partly through their ideas and hopes of the university)

  • 3rd position: The university is both pernicious and ideal at once. The critical university gains its force by being pitted against its opposite (‘the entrepreneurial university’; ‘the corporate university’; ‘the bureaucratic university’ …).

    • position of inherent schizophrenia

      • Not the case that sunny uplands await, if only …


On living with negativity in the university in the company of zizek and hegel

On living with negativity in the university in (the company of Zizek (and Hegel))

  • Zizek’s idea of ‘an insurmountable parallax gap’ – two closely linked perspectives between which no common ground is possible’

  • ‘a fundamental antimony which can never be dialectically “mediated/ sublated” into a higher synthesis’ (TPV, 4)

  • ‘noncoincidence of a thing in itself’ (30)

  • ‘Universality is not the neutral container of particular formations, their common measure … but this battle itself, the struggle leading from one particular formation to another’ (30).

  • ‘… the Universal names the site of a Problem-Deadlock, of a burning Question, and the Particulars are the attempted but failed Answers to this Problem.’ (38)

  • ‘For Hegel, external circumstances are not an impediment to realizing inner potentials, but on the contrary the very arena in which the true nature of these inner potentials is to be tested’. (TwtN, 142)


The antagonistic university

The antagonistic university

  • And so the university is an inherently antagonistic institution

  • But what kind of antagonism is this?

  • Is it an external antagonism – the university battling against external forces imposed upon it?

  • Or is it an internal battle, the university battling against itself?

  • For the former, the standard reading, the battle could be resolved one way or the other;

  • But for the latter, the more radical reading, (to which I want to hold), the battle is essential; it is part of the university’s being

  • No internal battle; no university!

  • So the problem becomes one of living with this inherent antagonism


Realizing the university s possibilities

Realizing the university’s possibilities

  • Assembling the resources for answering the question: ‘how do we understand the gap between the ‘real’ university and its possibilities?

  • A shortfall – deficiencies

  • The university is less than its possibilities, less than the sum of its parts (negative energies)

  • (University leadership – a means of energizing the university)


But which possibilities return to universality universalities

But which possibilities? Return to universality/ universalities

  • Competing universalities

  • Reason/ equity/ public/ wisdom/ ecology/ growth/ liberty

  • But these universals are suspect – the voices of Western democracy/ of stillness and calm

  • What of exhilaration/ anxiety/ excitement/ boundary-breaking/ rule-bending/ scariness/ hope?

  • And what of those siren voices – those other universals – of power/ competition/ of impact/

  • Task becomes that of the adjudication of (such) competing universalities


Conclusions

Conclusions

  • ‘Policy’ is a masque – closes off debate

  • Takes for granted ‘the global university’

  • And pretends to a unity that does not and should not characterise the university

  • Let us give up the term ‘policy’

  • And instead attempt to stimulate universities’ thinking about themselves

  • And release their imaginative powers about themselves.

Institute of Education

University of London

20 Bedford Way

London WC1H 0AL

Tel +44 (0)20 7612 6000

Fax +44 (0)20 7612 6126

Email [email protected]

Web www.ioe.ac.uk


Short bibliography

Short bibliography

  • Bakhurst, D (2011) The Formation of Reason. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.

  • Bhaskar,, R (2002) From Science to Emancipation: Journeys towards meta-Reality. New Delhi: Sage.

  • Butler, J, Laclau, E and Zizek, S (2000) Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. London: Verso.

  • Deleuze, G and Guattari, F (2007/1988) A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Continuum: London.

  • Habermas, J (2001) The Liberating Power of Symbols. Cambridge: Polity.

  • Irigaray, L (1999/ 1983) The Forgetting of Air in Martin Heidegger. Austin, TX: University of Texas.

  • Irwin, A and Michael, M (2003) Science, Social Theory and Public Knowledge. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

  • Laclau, E (2007/1996) Emancipation(s). London and New York: Verso.

  • List & Pettit (2011) Group Agency: The Possibility, Design, and Status of Corporate Agents. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Murphy, P, Peters, M A, Marginson, S (2010) Imagination: Three Models of Imagination in the Age of the Knowledge Economy. New York: Peter Lang.

  • Nietzsche, F (2008/1872) The Birth of Tragedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Peters, M A (2011) The Last Book of Postmodernism. New York: Peter Lang.

  • Thrift, N (2008) Non-Representational Theory: Space, Poltics, Affect. Abingdon: Routledge.

  • Zerilli, L (2004) ‘This univeralism which is not one’, in S Critchley and O Marchant, Laclau: A Critical Reader. (p99)

  • Zizek, S (1993) Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel and the Critique of Ideology. Durham: Duke University.

  • Zizek, S (2009) The Parallax View. Cambridge, Mass: MIT


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