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The Uncomfortable View from the Ivory Tower

Durey, Matthew, J. (2024) The Uncomfortable View from the Ivory Tower. In: The Uncomfortable Ideas Group Launch Event, 13 Jun 2024, University of Sunderland. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)


The history of universities is a complicated story of challenges and crises through which their nature and character has often been called into question. As we proceed through the early decades of the 21st century, universities are perhaps once again in a precarious state. Have they lost their way? Considering arguments on higher education by the Prussian polymath Wilhelm von Humboldt and the British philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, I argue that a central aspect of the character of universities is that they are home to uncomfortable ideas. In this regard universities – perhaps even more now than they were before – are a very particular kind of institution, and very particular places, in which uncomfortable, critical, and conflicting ideas, as well as the academic attitude with which such issues can be approached and appreciated, must be enshrined and protected. This, I suggest, is not just a matter of how universities operate. Rather, it is fundamental to the significance of universities as social institutions that not only produce knowledge and educate, and which are important centres of innovation, interdisciplinarity, and at times unorthodox ways of thinking, but which are also crucial symbols of the values of open and knowledge-driven societies.

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Depositing User: Matthew Durey


Item ID: 17822

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Matthew, J. Durey: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2024 12:16
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2024 12:30


Author: Matthew, J. Durey ORCID iD
Respondent: Tom Rodgers

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society
Faculty of Education and Society > School of Social Sciences


Education > Higher Education
Culture > History and Politics
Culture > Religion and Philosophy
Social Sciences > Sociology

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