Keystone Conference: European Universities – Critical Futures

Keystone Conference

Date: December 13 - 15, 2021

Venue: The Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, H.C. Andersens Boulevard 35, 1553 Copenhagen, Denmark
             (with possibilities for minimal participation online)

Fee: There is no conference fee. Conference costs have been kept low.
         There is a small number of bursaries for unfunded PhD candidates to assists with costs. Link Arrow Read more 

Registration deadline: December 9, 2021


For the last three years a network of European scholars has been holding combined workshops and PhD courses and engaging in working groups to address different aspects of the question, What are the future roles of universities in creating social and regional integration in Europe, in a shifting global context? This conference brings that work together with the aim of sharing existing knowledge, developing agendas for further critical research and opening up a dialogue with university leaders and policy makers on the implications of this research for the future contribution of higher education institutions in a context of political, social and geopolitical upheaval. The conference will conclude with a plan not just for developing further critical research but also for an extended dialogue with decision makers in the project’s final year.

If reforms in recent decades have aimed to make universities into coherent organisations responsive to political aims and industry’s needs, their mandate is now widening to help address current challenges of divisive inequalities on a European and global scale, massive population movements, climate change, pandemic and threats to democracy. At the same time, universities have become an institution that is critical for European social and political integration, and for providing an institutional framework through which Europe acts in the world. Yet the global context for which the ‘Europe of Knowledge’ was designed is rapidly shifting, with doubts about the much-heralded global knowledge economy, the rise of China, new developments in India and uncertainties about the future of the USA and UK as university powers. What is needed for universities to broaden their mandate to engage in a wider societal engagement and critical public purpose?

The programme will feature the work of the following working groups:

  • Alternative Internationalisms
  • Refugee Access to Higher Education
  • Gender and Precarity in Academia
  • Alternative Conditions for Knowledge Creation
  • Changing Dynamics between Leaders, Administrators and Academics in European Universities
  • Trust Beyond Metrics. Alternative trust-building practices of European Universities
  • and The results of a ten-country comparative study of the short-term and long-term impacts of the pandemic on European higher education.

This conference is open to both senior and early-stage researchers. Previous events have been organised as combined workshops/PhD courses with the aim of involving PhD candidates as equal participants in sharing knowledge and developing research agendas.

The conference is also open to leaders of higher education institutions and national and European stakeholders and policy makers. The network is motivated to turn its studies into action. Each session is designed to start a dialogue between researchers and university leaders and policy makers and one session will also be devoted to exploring new ways of establishing such dialogue.

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