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Speaker Will Make a Different Case for the Purpose of Universities and the Humanities

The author of the recent book, “What Are Universities For?,” will share his argument for completely rethinking the way we talk about higher education, and why society needs universities.

Stefan Collini, professor of intellectual history and English literature at the University of Cambridge, will give talks at the University of Virginia on March 19 and 20, hosted by the College of Arts & SciencesInstitute of the Humanities and Global Cultures.

On March 19 at 4 p.m., he will lecture on “Making the Case: Universities and their Publics” in Minor Hall Auditorium. The next day, he will lead a workshop on “The Humanities: High Notes and Health Warnings” at 2:30 p.m. in the Cocke Hall Gibson Room.

Collini has become one of the most respected voices in public debates about universities and their place in modern society. Against the backdrop of funding cuts and policy changes to British universities over the past two decades, in “What Are Universities For?,” Collini says the purpose of universities is not to be an economic engine. Disciplined intellectual scholarship and research can never be harnessed completely to immediate social purposes, he says – particularly in the case of the humanities, which both attract and puzzle many people and are therefore the most difficult subjects to justify.

Both talks are free and open to the public.

Collini is a visiting fellow at the National Humanities Center in Triangle Park, N.C. this year. His other books include “Public Moralists,” “English Pasts” and “Absent Minds: Intellectuals in Britain.” He is a frequent contributor to the London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, Guardian and Nation, as well as an occasional broadcaster.

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