Knowledge and the University: Reclaiming Life

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What role does knowledge play in universities today? In a post-truth era, and an age of alternative facts, what legitimacy does the university have today as the institution that creates and safeguards knowledge on the highest level?

Knowledge has long been heralded as the central concept for the university and the university’s place in the world. However, that presupposition has taken a battering recently from many directions. With the incorporation of the university more fully into the world, knowledge is no longer seen as valuable in-itself but now is viewed only instrumentally, and has to have ‘impact’. The idea of knowledge as offering a robust understanding of the world has been undermined from within the academy, through movements such as relativism, constructivism, deconstructionism and postmodernism. Now, there can only be differing narratives of the world without any means of arbitrating among them.

In ‘Re-claiming Knowledge’, Ronald Barnett and Søren Bengtsen confront this bleak situation and advance a positive account that accords a central position to knowledge in understanding the university in the twenty-first century. Universities’ intimate connection with life, through their interest in knowledge, has been extinguished, and this book re-claims that link. Here, life is not limited to the biological domain of living organisms, but to a more general vibrancy, vitality, and energy in individuals, groups, organisations, and societies. It includes intellectual, professional, political, ethical, social, and cultural domains and activities. Through their interconnectedness with knowledge, universities have life in their very being: in research, writing, learning, teaching, civic outreach, and society more broadly. Knowledge is shown to be the flow of life between universities and its surrounding cultural domains and societal arenas. Knowledge binds universities and such societally arenas, spaces, and activities together. Knowledge brings life.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherRoutledge
StateIn preparation - Apr 2018

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