The Thinking University

A Philosophical Examination of Thought and Higher Education

  • Søren S.E. Bengtsen
  • Ronald Barnett

Part of the Debating Higher Education: Philosophical Perspectives book series (DHEP, volume 1)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Ronald Barnett, Søren S. E. Bengtsen
    Pages 1-12
  3. The Thinking University – Contending With the World

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 13-13
    2. Yusef Waghid, Nuraan Davids
      Pages 61-73
  4. Educating Thought

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 75-75
    2. James Arvanitakis, David J. Hornsby
      Pages 87-101
    3. Thomas Karlsohn
      Pages 103-118
  5. The Thinking University: Making Connections

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 135-135
    2. David Beckett, Paul Hager
      Pages 137-153
    3. Rikke Toft Nørgård, Søren S. E. Bengtsen
      Pages 167-183
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 199-200

About this book


This book reinvigorates the philosophical treatment of the nature, purpose, and meaning of thought in today’s universities. The wider discussion about higher education has moved from a philosophical discourse to a discourse on social welfare and service, economics, and political agendas. This book reconnects philosophy with the central academic concepts of thought, reason, and critique and their associated academic practices of thinking and reasoning. 

Thought in this context should not be considered as a merely mental or cognitive construction, still less a cloistered college, but a fully developed individual and social engagement of critical reflection and discussion with the current pressing disciplinary, political, and philosophical issues. The editors hold that the element of thought, and the ability to think in a deep and groundbreaking way is, still, the essence of the university. But what does it mean to think in the university today? And in what ways is thought related not only to the epistemological and ontological issues of philosophical debate, but also to the social and political dimensions of our globalised age? In many countries, the state is imposing limitations on universities, dismissing or threatening academics who speak out critically.  With this volume, the editors ask questions such as: What is the value of thought? What is the university’s proper relationship to thought?

To give the notion of thought a thorough philosophical treatment, the book is divided into in three parts. The focus moves from an epistemological perspective in Part I, to a focus on existence and values in higher education in Part II, and then to a societal-oriented focus on the university in Part III. All three parts, in their own ways, debate the notion of thought in higher education and the university as a thinking form of being.


University thinking Philosophy of the university Idea of the university Academic virtues Citizen scholar Future of higher education University futures Academic citizenship Ontology of the university Higher education ontology Higher education ethics Thought and the university The thinking university The university and society

Editors and affiliations

  • Søren S.E. Bengtsen
    • 1
  • Ronald Barnett
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre for Teaching Development and Digital MediaAarhus UniversityAarhusDenmark
  2. 2.Institute of EducationUniversity College LondonLondonUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Education Education (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-77666-8
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-77667-5
  • Series Print ISSN 2366-2573
  • Series Online ISSN 2366-2581
  • Buy this book on publisher's site