Higher Education: A Critical Business

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McGraw-Hill Education (UK), Jun 16, 1997 - Education - 191 pages
Higher Education: A Critical Business is a bold statement about higher education in the modern age. It continues Ronald Barnett's thinking of his earlier books but offers a completely new set of ideas in a challenging but engaging argument.

A defining concept of the Western university is that of critical thinking, but that idea is completely inadequate for the changing and unknowable world facing graduates. Instead, we have to displace the idea of critical thinking with the much broader idea of critical being. In this idea, students reflect critically on knowledge but they also develop their powers of critical self-reflection and critical action. This critique is transformatory. An education for critical being calls for a new approach to the process of higher education. It also has implications for the organization and management of universities, and for the relationship of universities to the wider worlds of work, professionalism and intellectual life.

"Barnett reviews what the academy customarily means when it talks about critical thought, explains why that talk is so often shallow and pessimistic, and holds up for contemplation a positive conception of a 'very wide self' formed through education.... He breathes completely new life into the dead notion of academic as intellectual"
- Professor Sheldon Rothblatt, University of California, Berkeley and Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden

Anyone interested in understanding how we might develop universities and higher education for the modern world should read this important book.



Rethinking Critical Thinking
Towards Critical Being
Critique in Society
A Critical Space
The Society for Research into Higher Education
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About the author (1997)

Ronald Barnett is Professor of Higher Education and Dean of Professional Development at the Institute of Education, University of London. His earlier books include (both prize winners) The Idea of Higher Education and The Limits of Competence: Knowledge, Higher Education and Society.

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