Counter to advance? Observations on the traditions, trajectories & openings of the re-emerging field of 'critical university studies' (Invited keynote)

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Against a backdrop of increasing strife, dis-ease and uncertainty expressed by students and academics within higher education in many places across the globe, Critical University Studies (or Critical Higher Education Studies) has seen a re-emergence. This talk presents a number of reflections in an attempt to productively question our engagement with this ‘field’ within the academy – clues of which are embedded within the discord suggested in the title. ‘Advance’ is a sense of the agency of those of us within, to shape the field and be shaped by it, and the currents and imaginaries to which such movement relates. ‘Counter’ relates to resistance, to a concern with whom and what is counted as important in and for this area of enquiry, and whom or what can effectively counter the dominant and the oppressive within and about higher education. It relates to the geo/politics of this field, and its internal processes of de/ legitimation as it becomes disciplined into a discipline. Against this to-and-fro discord of countering to advance, are ‘observations’ to situate this talk within the speakers’ particular perspective, concerns and positionality about possible traditions, trajectories and openings of this area of enquiry and its possible ways of operating.
Period18 Mar 2020
Held atLiverpool Hope University, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • critical university studies
  • higher education