CHEF book launch: Enacting the University: Danish University Reform in an Ethnographic Perspective

: May 18, 2021, 14.00-15.30

Venue: Online. Participants will recieve a Zoom-Link closer to the event.

Fee: Free

Registration deadline: May 16, 2021


                        Enacting The University


This webinar is to discuss the book Link Arrow Enacting the University (Springer 2020) and its longitudinal and multi-sited ethnography of Danish university reform. After two decades of debate in national and international forums, a University Law in 2003 started a further two decades of reforms to Danish universities. The book juxtaposes two meanings of ‘enactment’: a top-down view based on laws and institutional power and a bottom-up view of multiple actors, such as students, academics and managers, who shape the university in day-to day life.

The book’s challenge is to analyse the university as multiple ‘congeries of small acts’ whilst also seeing the emergence of new shapes in the formation of the university and its staging in the world. It does this by tracing ‘telling moments’ when contestations between different ideas about the purpose and organisation of the university come to a head and new ways of acting are instituted, around which subsequent events turn.

By tracing the ways that the meaning and practice of ‘freedom’, ‘openness’, ‘self-ownership’, ‘co-ownership’ and ‘participation in decision making’ have been transformed and the ways ‘strategic leaders’, ‘academic subjects’ and ‘student figures’ have been negotiated and enacted, the book avoids a totalising picture of the reform process. Instead, by seeing universities as contested spaces, continually re-enacted by a range of agents, the book ends by advocating university members adopt a politically reflexive stance to seek out ways to actively contest and shape the university into the future.


Brief presentation by the authors

14.00 Susan Wright, Gritt B. Nielsen and John B. Krejsler (DPU, Aarhus University), Stephen Carney (RUC) and Jakob Williams Ørberg, (Innovation Centre Denmark, New Delhi)

Reviews of the book

 14.15 Sharon Rider, Distinguished Professor, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University and co-editor of World Class Universities. A Contested Concept (Springer 2020).
 14.30 Paul Stubbs, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Economics Zagreb and former Co-President of the Association for the Anthropology of Policy, American Anthropological Association. Co-author of 'Making Policy Move' (Policy Press 2015)
 14.45 Alan Irwin, Professor in the Department of Organization, Copenhagen Business School and co-author of 'Hvad vil vi med universiteterne?' (Informations Forlag, 2018).


15.00 Open to participants


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