The University has lost its way. The world needs the university more than ever but for new reasons. If we are to clarify its new role in the world, we need to find a new vocabulary and a new sense of purpose. The university is faced with "supercomplexity", in which our very frames of understanding, action and self-identity are all continually challenged. In such a world, the university has explicity to take on a dual role: firstly, of compounding supercomplexity, so making the world ever more challenging; and secondly, of enabling us to live effectively in this chaotic world. Internally, too, the university has to become a new kind of organization, adept at fulfilling this dual role. The university has to live by the uncertainty principle: it has to generate uncertainty, to help us live with uncertinty and event to revel in our uncertainty. Ronald Barnett offers nothing less than a fundamental reworking of the way in which we understand the modern university. "Realizing the University" is useful reading for all those concerned about the future of higher education.
Ronald Barnett is Professor of Higher Education and Dean of Professional Development at the Institute of Education, University of London. His earlier books include The Idea of Higher Education, The Limits of Competence, and Higher Education: A Critical Business.