Founding a New University
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of its re-foundation in 1919, the University of Cologne will offer an opportunity to reflect on the politics, relevance and impacts of the establishment of new universities in Europe during the 20th and early 21st centuries. The international conference “Founding a New University. European Experiences from the 20th and 21st Century“ will compare conditions and aims, forms and effects of new universities within changing political environments. While the historical European university model relies heavily on a tradition dating back to its medieval origins, it also proved to be flexible, innovative and open to the future.
Establishing a new university is a key historical event from several perspectives: New universities create research resources and academic positions, they establish new disciplines and study programmes, they stimulate the development of a city or region, they can be an instrument of state dominance and ideological control with respect to science and higher education, but they also can provide new scope for innovation, organizational experiments, civic engagement, and pressure group politics.
Usually based on well-established models, by founding a university alternative structures could be tested and new goals pursued. This is especially true in times of political upheaval or accelerated social change: in the years of crisis and state building in Central and Eastern Europe after 1918, during the decades of the European post-war boom after WWII, in the turmoil of “68”, after the collapse of communism in Europe, and under the impact of the reorganization of education and science based on market principles at the end of the 20th century.
Thus, we invite contributions that focus on case studies or develop broader perspectives. In particular, periods of expansion, post-war developments, the reform era of the 1960s and 1970s, the period of transition after the end of communism in Europe, and the most recent tendencies towards private universities are of interest.
The conference – which is funded by the University of Cologne – shall offer an opportunity for thorough discussion in a workshop-style atmosphere. We do expect presentations of 20 minutes each. Abstracts will be circulated among conference participants in advance. Presentations are to be given in English; the discussion will be in English or German.