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Daily Archives: September 3rd, 2011

Higher Education Crisis


 BSA Regional Postgraduate Day School Event 2011

Higher Education in the Liquid Modern Era: Swirling Down the Drain?

The Bauman Institute, University of Leeds, Friday 9 September, 2011

Last remaining places! Book now:

The metaphor of liquidity is used in Zygmunt Bauman’s work to represent the loss of security felt as more the ‘solid’ institutions and ‘traditional’ patterns of social relations of modernity break down/dissolve in the contemporary world. A striking example of this can be found to exist in the situation facing contemporary participants – students, teachers and researchers – in higher education (HE), especially those working in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.

The ‘traditional’ pursuits of academia are being increasingly undermined by changes which are aimed at subordinating free enquiry to the shifting demands of the marketplace. The proposed changes to HE funding outlined by the current UK coalition government seem likely to further exacerbate the tendency towards instrumentalism in HE, while simultaneously destabilizing employment in both the knowledge and the culture industries in the UK for many years to come.

In light of these recent proposals, and the likely assault on non-STEM subjects that will ensue, we feel that it would be productive to consider as postgraduate students the likely landscape which we are about to enter. We aim to do this by drawing on Bauman, who has written and recently lectured on the role of sociologists and higher education in contemporary society (‘Education in Liquid Modernity’, 2005; Sociology – Whence and Whither?: Speech from the Bauman Institute Launch Conference, 2010), as well as others, in order to produce a written statement in defence of social science.

Whilst this will be a collaborative effort, with input predominantly from sociology postgraduates, we envisage inviting a small number of postgraduates and academics from other disciplines to contribute their ideas and efforts. Through this, we suggest that a more comprehensive understanding of the common problems facing those across the social sciences, at different stages in their academic lives, can help us to produce a justification of sociology’s continuing value and importance beyond narrow, mechanistic definitions of ‘impact’.

The aim of the event is to provide a space for postgraduate social scientists to engage in critical reflection on the proposed changes to higher education funding in the UK and their implications for our so-called ‘knowledge’ society, particularly through drawing on the insights provided in the work of Zygmunt Bauman on the insecurities and uncertainties of life in liquid modern times.

The event will consist of a mix of papers from postgraduate students, three keynote speakers, panel discussion, and collaborative workshop sessions. Postgraduate students will receive first preference for places.

Registration fees: BSA Members: Free Non-members: £25

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

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