Leadership and Cooperation in Academia

Leadership and Cooperation in Academia

Reflecting on the Roles and Responsibilities of University Faculty and Management

Edited by Roger Sugden, Marcela Valania and James R. Wilson

Across the world academic institutions are being questioned by their stakeholders and pressured to change. Answering these questions requires that academics and professional managers in universities think about their work, its value and organisation. The book highlights the need for space and stimulus to reflect on the responsibilities, roles and expectations that they identify for themselves, and that others place upon them – then, they might be better able to understand and to act. Similarly, policymakers and higher education commentators need the space and stimulus to reflect on the role of universities. This book will provide this space and an invaluable contribution to the stimulus.

Chapter 4: Space in an inferno? The organization of modern universities and the role of academics

Roger Sugden

Subjects: business and management, management and universities, education, management and universities, politics and public policy, leadership

Extract

We begin with a perhaps bleak view of people and of the sort of societies and economies that we, as people, have created, but also with rays of hope and thus questions for those of us with an interest in the organization of universities and the role of academics. For Italo Calvino, in the concluding paragraph of Invisible Cities (1972: 165): The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of the inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space. Could a university provide such space? Could it enable people to think about and understand who and what are not inferno? If so, what would that require for the organization of the university, and for the role of academics?

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