The Idea of the University: Crisis or Adaptation?
The Idea of the University: Crisis or Adaptation?

We’ve just experienced
the summer from hell. And it’s forced
a very many people to reconsider their priorities. To
ask what are they doing in their lives, what really matters and where should
they devote their energies? I know a lot of academics are thinking
about those questions and asking about how they can best use their abilities
and resources in a way that is going to make a difference in the world. And I
know our students, in Canberra and around Australia, are re-thinking those questions
themselves. And I certainly know that prospective students to universities
around Australia are asking those questions: Why bother? Why go to a
university when there are other things that you could do with your time? What
kind of value is that sort of education? And what other choices might be open to
people? I think we’ve assembled a really world-class panel to talk about the
nature of the university and its prospects in the 21st century and it
should matter, not just to people involved in in higher education, but to
everybody in Australia because universities are key change-management
agents in a time we really need that kind of force. We have (Professor) Brian Schmidt,
Vice-Chancellor of the ANU and a Nobel Laureate on the panel, myself, two really
Australia’s greatest public intellectuals – George Megalogenis and
(Dr) Rebecca Huntley – both of whom have thought a lot about education and public
intellectualism in Australia, and (Associate Professor) Tamson Pietsch, who directs the (Australian) Centre in Public History at UTS. So a really impressive panel that I think will be exciting
and engaging and provocative.

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