CFP: [International] Critical Thoughts: the purpose of higher education

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Tim McKenzie
contact email:

Critical Thoughts: Recovering Higher Education

What is the vocation of the university in the twenty-first century? In an
era of departmental closures, performance based research funding and
strategic management, the primary purpose of universities and the core
values sustaining that purpose are often far from obvious. At this
juncture, Newman’s vision of the University as a School of Universal
Learning seems a distant memory rather than a future target.

Critical Thoughts is a major conference that seeks to address these
issues. Hosted by the Combined Chaplaincies at Victoria University of
Wellington, New Zealand, the conference aims to stimulate thinking on the
university’s role in the development of students, society and culture.
Under the pressure of market forces, how can teaching occur and knowledge
be pursued in ways that promote wisdom and understanding?

Confirmed keynote speakers for the conference include Professor Alison
Phipps, Director of Glasgow University’s Centre for Faith, Culture and
Education, and Dr Wilf Malcolm, former Vice Chancellor of Waikato
University, and co-author with Nicholas Tarling, Emeritus Professor of
Auckland University, of the recently book, Crisis of Identity?, The
Mission and Management of Universities in New Zealand.

Critical Thoughts will take place at Victoria University of Wellington,
New Zealand on 20-21 November 2008. While there will inevitably be a New
Zealand aspect to the conference, the issues at stake are of universal
application, and we welcome international contributors.

We are seeking papers on any area relevant to the role and calling of the
contemporary university, including:

• Higher learning or learning for hire?
• The nature of truth and knowledge.
• The university’s role in providing liberal education.
• The university as critic and conscience of society: who’s
• The impact of the Performance Based Research Fund on the pursuit
of wisdom.
• The role of formation within university teaching.
• Academic excellence and funding constraints.
• Styles of governance and management appropriate to the
university’s character as a collegial learning community.

Abstracts and other inquiries should be submitted to Dr Tim McKenzie,, (04) 463 5499, or c/- VUW Chaplaincy, PO Box 600,
Wellington. Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be submitted by 1
August 2008.

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Received on Mon Apr 14 2008 - 23:52:00 EDT

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