Manchester uncovers higher education’s captivating past
25 Sep 2015
A new website to share research and reflections on the rich history of universities has been launched
The website - University Histories - will explore the changing roles and purposes of universities and also provide a platform for historians to comment on contemporary issues and debates in higher education from a historical perspective.
The website is the work of researchers from around the University who are interested in the history of universities including Dr James Hopkins, Manchester’s University Historian and Heritage Manager.
He said: “The concept of the university has been evolving since medieval Europe and the process of change continues today.
“We want to focus on how, when and where universities have been remodeled or repurposed and how their past informs their present.”
The site features posts on the development of the built university, as well as the people and disciplines that have shaped these institutions. It also looks at how student life impacts upon, and is impacted by, the university environment, and the relationship between universities and the wider communities in which they are based.
Professor of intellectual history, Stuart Jones, said: “We have launched this blog to give an online focus to work on the history of universities, and to bring that historical work to bear on current debates about the public role of universities.
“Modern universities have a range of diverse functions – generating new kinds of knowledge and understanding, forming elites, training an educated workforce, and engaging with their communities to shape an informed citizenry – and their histories have a lot to tell us about broader histories of forms of knowledge, of social mobility, of economic development, and of civic life.”
James Hopkins said: “We hope that the website will help create a network of researchers in Britain and beyond to help historicise and elucidate larger questions about universities and their purposes.”