The Nation-State, Globalisation and the Modern Institution of the University

in Theoria

Thinking about the ‘identity crisis’ of the modern institution of the university, I was wondering about the following most general questions: does the current passage to late modernity and to the information age, the decline of the role of the nation-state and the increasing power of processes of globalisation mean the inevitability of the radical reformulation of the social mission and tasks of the institution of the university? Does the university (in North America and Central Europe alike) come through the transitory crisis of public trust and of its founding values or through the dramatic crisis of its own identity in a radically new global order? Is it so that in the face of globalisation and its social practices the process of the ‘corporatization’ of the university and the account of its activities in terms of business rather than education are irresistible? Is the response to the decreasing public trust in and decreasing financial support of higher education generally on the part of the state to be found in new ideas (by reformulating once again the philosophical foundations of the modern university) or in its new organisation (by following the explicit recommendations provided by such supranational organisations as the OECD, the World Bank, or UNESCO)? Surprisingly enough, these questions are of equal significance to North America and to a Central and Eastern Europe experiencing vast social and economic transformation. In both parts of the world the most common reflection upon the future functioning of higher education is the following: ‘things will never be the same’.

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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