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The Good University

The Good University

Raewyn Connell



The higher education industry might seem like it’s booming, with over 200 million students in universities and colleges worldwide and funds flowing in like never before. But the truth is that these institutions have never been unhappier places to work. Corporate-style management, cost-cutting governments, mobilisations by angry students and strikes by a disgruntled workforce have taken their toll — in almost every country around the world. It’s no wonder that there is talk of ‘universities in crisis.’

But what should a ‘good university’ look like? In this inspiring new work, Raewyn Connell asks us to consider just that, challenging us to rethink the fundamentals of what universities do. Drawing on the examples offered by pioneering universities and educational reformers around the world, Connell outlines a practical vision for how our universities can become both more engaging and more productive places, driven by social good rather than profit, helping to build fairer societies.

Raewyn Connell is Professor Emerita at the University of Sydney. She is a highly-cited researcher in social science and an experienced teacher who has worked in universities around the world. She remains an active trade unionist and advocate for workers’ rights, student autonomy and educational reform. Her books include Masculinities (2005), Southern Theory (2007) and Gender: In World Perspective (2015).

‘A uniquely revealing global account of the actual work done by university workers, and a searing critique of the false promises made by current ideologies. A must read for those interested in progressive university reform.’
D.W. Livingstone, author of The Education-Jobs Gap

‘One victim of Western modernity and corporate ambition is the university. Raewyn Connell convincingly demonstrates what many are sensing and others are ignoring: that knowledge for peace and joy is being overruled by competing knowledges of war and death.’
Walter Mignolo, Duke University

‘Raewyn Connell’s case for the good university will resonate with the people who do the work to make good education and research happen, who care about the students and their colleagues and know their responsibility to the public who rightly expect so much of our universities. Her good university values the labour of all staff with decent, secure jobs.’
Jeannie Rea, National Tertiary Education Union

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front Cover Front Cover
About the Author ii
Title Page iii
Copyright iv
Contents v
Introduction 1
1: Making the knowledge: research 11
Being a researcher 12
The work of research 17
The knowledge formation 24
Research and truth 30
2: Learning and teaching 37
The work of learning 39
The course being run 43
The work of teaching 48
3: The collective intellectual: university workers 54
Intellectuals 54
Operations workers 56
Academic workers 63
Sustainability crisis 68
4: The global economy of knowledge 73
Imperial science 74
Making a world university system 79
Making a worldwide workforce 85
Multiple knowledge formations and Southern theory 91
5: Privilege machines 95
The dark side of the university 95
Making advantage happen 101
Breaching the walls 105
Machine limits 109
6: The university business 115
The maelstrom 115
What enterprise universities sell 119
The managers 124
Telling lies about universities 130
Maelstrom reconsidered 135
7: Universities of hope 140
Histories of invention 141
Contemporaries 150
Struggle and joy: lessons of experience 163
8: The good university 168
The choice of futures 168
Criteria for a good university … 171
… and a good university system 175
Manifestos and visions 177
Taking action 186
Notes 193
References 204
Acknowledgements 227
Index 228