chapter  7
11 Pages

Monks, managers, and celebrities: refiguring the European university

ByIsabel Capeloa Gil

The times they are a-changing, as the Dylan song goes. And they are changing rapidly in one of the most resilient western-based institutions – the university. Against a background of rapid and often unexpected social and political transitions, an apparent end, or deep crisis, of long-established political and economic systems, and the recurrence in all these of the same classes of victims and victors, seem to indicate that while a lot is changing, much remains the same. As an institution that has survived 800 years of social and political upheaval, but has nevertheless succeeded in maintaining its key role in the education of elites, the university is threatened at the dawn of the twenty-first century by managerial pressure and economic crisis, by a perception of social irrelevance, elitism, and self-centeredness. For all its flaws, the university has nevertheless proven its commitment to the advancement of knowledge and the betterment of life, and through thick and thin has been the haven for responsible critical thought. This suggests that the university does indeed matter – but in what ways, and for whom? What are its models of action, their weaknesses and opportunities?