DUN Webinar: Realising the Ecological University

Ronald Barnett

     Ronald Barnett

     Emeritus Professor of Higher Education at University College
     London Institute of Education (where he was both Dean of
     Professional Development and (subsequently) Pro-Director for
     Longer Term Strategy)


Date: February 24, 2021, 15.00-16.00

Venue: Online in Zoom

Fee: Free

Registration deadline: February 21, 2021


The university is not just encircled by but is entangled with several major ecosystems of the world and, whether recognized or not, the university is influenced by them and negotiates its way through them.  Eight ecosystems stand out in particular, those of the economy, knowledge, social institutions, learning, persons, culture and the natural environment.

The ecological university is a university that takes this ecological setting seriously, and does what it can not just to be sensitive to those eight ecosystems but plays its part in improving each of them - for, being ecosystems, they each fall short of their potential. 

It is a matter of judgement for any university as to where and how it might do this, in its teaching, its research and in its engagements with the wider world.  The university as an institution has its part to play alongside its individual programmes of study.  And its programmes of study will vary in their possibilities, across the disciplines and their connections with the wider society. 

At present, attention is given primarily to economy as an ecosystem. Some wish to play it up still further (being strong advocates of ‘skills’ for the economy); others - critics of neoliberalism and cognitive capitalism – wish to diminish its significance, for they believe that there is a neglect of the other (seven) ecosystems.  As a result, there has emerged - over the last half century or so - a general downplaying of the potential that the university now possesses in assisting the world in the twenty-first century. 

In my talk, I shall address this situation and share some tentative - and very broad-brush - thoughts as to how steps might be made in realizing the ecological university, especially in teaching, learning and the student experience.

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