Webinar: Universities under siege

Universities Under Siege While We Wait

Date: March 7, 2022, 16.00 (CET)

Venue: Online

Fee: Free and open to all

Registration deadline: March 4, 2022

Registration: Send an email with your name, title, affiliation and email-address to Link Arrow phec2020@humsam.uu.se 

Due to the Covid-19 situation, the 4th annual Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Conference that was planned to take place in Uppsala on October 19th–20th, 2020, was postponed. The new date is set for June 8th–9th, 2022. In the interim, the organizers have offered a series of webinars. You are cordially invited to the next webinar on March 7th, 2022.

The webinar offers two presentations that touch on the Link Arrow main theme of the conference.
The event is organized by The Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society (PaTHES) and Uppsala University’s Center for Higher Education and Research as Objects of Study (HERO).

Presentation by Lars Engwall: The Governance of Universities

All organizations, universities included, are influenced by signals from regulators, markets actors and scrutinizers. The role and impact of these governors will wary over time and space. This in turn will have implications for the internal governance and structure of organizations.

Against this background the presentation will demonstrate how changes in regulation, market orientation and various kinds of evaluations have influenced the organizational structures by increasingly adding administrative units and expertise. In addition, the adoption of managerial ideas has had an effect on the recruitment of university leaders with the expectation that they should be a chief executive officer rather than a primus inter pares. This has led to a widely spread belief that university leaders should act strategically and lead their institutions through a chain of command. At the same time, they are increasingly expected to handle the environment of their institutions and therefore be more of Secretary of State than President.

Presentation by Mats Hyvonen: Social Media and the Blurring Boundaries of Academia

The rise of social media just over a decade ago has in many ways, for better or worse, upended how everyone, including students, teachers and researchers, communicates. Any occurrence on campus today can become a subject for heated discussion and debate far beyond the walls of the university. The almost instantaneous dissemination of information together with the universal reach of social media make possible the influence of people outside the academic community on judgments about and interventions in what happens inside the university.

In other words, the broad utilization of social media can both directly and indirectly effect what happens in the classroom and the lab, and shape the decisions made by university managers and administrators. This situation reanimates an issue that has accompanied the university since its inception: the relationship between “town and gown”, that is, between the academy and the society of which it is a part.

Based on case studies from Sweden, this talk poses the question: How well prepared are today’s marketized and micromanaged universities to handle potential and actual pressures from economic and political actors that come with the increasingly blurred boundaries?

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