Stefan Collini

What are Universities For?
  • What are Universities For?

  • Across the world, universities are more numerous than they have ever been, yet at the same time there is unprecedented confusion about their purpose and scepticism about their value. What Are Universities For? offers a spirited and compelling argument for completely rethinking the way we see our universities, and why we need them.

    Stefan Collini challenges the common claim that universities need to show that they help to make money in order to justify getting more money. Instead, he argues that we must reflect on the different types of institution and the distinctive roles they play. In particular we must recognize that attempting to extend human understanding, which is at the heart of disciplined intellectual enquiry, can never be wholly harnessed to immediate social purposes - particularly in the case of the humanities, which both attract and puzzle many people and are therefore the most difficult subjects to justify.

    At a time when the future of higher education lies in the balance, What Are Universities For? offers all of us a better, deeper and more enlightened understanding of why universities matter, to everyone.

In recent years, Stefan Collini has become one of the most distinctive and respected voices in public debates about the nature of universities and their place in modern society.He is a frequent contributor to The Guardian, The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, and other publications, as well as an occasional broadcaster.Among his books, Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain (2006), a major analysis of the role of the intellectual and its place in British culture, has received particularly widespread attention in both the academic world and the general media, while reviewers of his most recent collection of essays, Common Reading: Critics, Historians, Publics (2008), have described him as 'one of Britain's finest essaysists and writers' - 'he is astute, analytical, and often killingly funny'.His other books include Public Moralists (1991), Matthew Arnold: a Critical Portrait (1994), and English Pasts: Essays in History and Culture (1999); he is also the editor of a widely praised edition of C.P. Snow's The Two Cultures (1993).He is Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University, and a Fellow of the British Academy.