22 SES 13 A, The University in the Age of Critique (Part 1)
Symposium to be continued in 22 SES 14 A
In the first part we sketch two important spaces in which universities have to position themselves (the European Research Area and the European Higher Education Area). We will indicate how this positioning and orientation includes a particular framing of the role of the university in dealing with the challenges of society which in a way appropriates (privatizes) and mobilizes the university for a war on excellence and talent, transforming the university in a war-like machinery to produce knowledge and learning outcomes driven by a constant acceleration or ‘speeding up’: doing more with less. Being confronted with the casualties of academic performance, is a moment that forces us to think again about what we call ‘university’. In our second part, we propose to reclaim the university (to de-privatize her) as a specific public pedagogic form: that is as a particular care-taking association or gathering for collective public study. In times of acceleration we suggest the possibility to become enlightened by another way of looking at the university, by going back to the ‘dark’ Middle Ages. Back then, the university was not just a sophisticated version of the cathedral school, nor an updated version of the ancient academy. The universitas studii had a distinctive form. University does not refer to ‘universal’, but to an universitas, that is, a kind of gathering where, in the case of the universitas studii, knowledge – previously considered sacred - was somehow made public, and became subject to study. It was the notion of study/studium that was used to indicate the ‘pedagogical life’ that developed within the space of these associations. The universities were a form of public collective study not initiated by people of wisdom who wanted to share their knowledge, but by those who wanted to become students. In this line, we want to approach the university as a gathering which articulates a movement of public thought through unique pedagogic forms that have the power to make things public and gather a public in such a way that it becomes a thinking public. Hence, the ‘public’ role of the university does not refer to its functions, but to the characteristics of the gathering, and the operations of its pedagogic forms. We will explore the notions of ‘collective and public study’ in relation to the notion of ‘collective experiment’ and relying on experiences with ‘collective experiments’ carried out at the Laboratory for Education and Society.
De Ridder-Symoens, H. (ed.) (1992). A History of the University in Europe vol. I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Latour, B. (2004). Politics of Nature: How to Bring the Sciences into Democracy. London: Harvard University Press. Lyotard, J-F. (1979). La condition postmoderne. Paris : Les Editions de Minuit. Stengers, I. (2013). Une autre science est possible. Manifeste pour un ralentissement des sciences. Paris: La Découverte. Virilio, P. (1977/1968). Speed and Politics: An Essay on Dromology. New York: Semiotext(e). Virilio, P. (2010). The university of disaster. Polity: Cambridge.
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