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Keynote, Prof John Holmwood (Creating Publics Project)

Thursday, 28 June 2012, 14:00 - 16:00

The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Location: Library Seminar Rooms 1 & 2

For the 3rd Creating Publics keynote lecture we are delighted to welcome Prof John Holmwood (University of Nottingham).

The Creating Publics project was launched in March 2012 with the aim of innovating new ways of engaging publics in the on-going processes of social science research and public life.

John Holmwood is Professor of Sociology at the University of Nottingham. Holmwood is the Chair of the Council of UK Heads and Professors of Sociology, a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, and has recently been elected President of the British Sociological Association. He is also the founder of the Campaign for the Public University, a group promoting an 'alternative white paper' for British higher education, particularly in response to funding cuts. He is editor of A Manifesto for the Public University (Bloomsbury 2011) and blogs regularly on higher education issues for the Campaign for the Public University, Research Blogs, Open Democracy, Sociology and the Cuts, and Universities in Crisis. John Holmwood's current research addresses issues of pragmatism and public sociology. This research has included a set of recent articles in which he has been working through issues of globalisation and social inquiry and on the promise of pragmatism in social inquiry.

His keynote adressed the following: Markets, Expertise and the Public University: A crisis in knowledge for democracy?


Mass higher education is a product of democracy and, largely, a product of the public university. Yet the expansion of higher education has also extended beyond the boundaries of national political communities to create opportunities for profit and prestige. Multinational knowledge corporations vie for market share with fee-greedy elite universities selling education as a positional good, with public higher education increasingly starved of funding. Prior to the emergence of mass higher education, there was widely regarded to be a crisis of democracy deriving from the complexity of public issues and the necessity of experts to advise governments. This was the context for John Dewey’s articulation of the idea of the ‘public’ and the role of the university in education for democracy. With the return of an aggressive neo-liberal agenda that seeks to replace politics with markets, and universities also subject to neo-liberal reforms that place consumer sovereignty at the heart of education and measure knowledge in terms of its ‘impact’, this lecture poses the question of whether we face a new crisis of democracy.


Time Session
14:00 Welcome and introduction
Jef Huysmans and Nick Mahony (CCIG)
14:10 Keynote
Prof John Holmwood (University of Nottingham)
15:00 Response
John Clarke and Vron Ware (CCIG)
15:30 Q & A and collective discussion

In the spirit of public experimentation that this project promotes, the event was webcasted live and is available for replay.


PDF icon J.Holmwood_Flyer.pdf516.62 KB