Roundhouse Student Journal

Rethinking the University

In the UK, Universities sit cautiously on the boundary between the private and the public sphere. Today, more than ever, this boundary has been blurred. This session will look at how we might address the need to restore a rational communicative approach in higher education and where, in the twenty first century, the contemporary university should be situated. Should a critical education strive to address the urgent moral-political concerns of our times? How do we use our understanding of a critical pedagogy to close the space between theory and practice? Is it possible for the university to re-establish its role as a social agent?


Dr Ricardo Blaug, senior lecturer in political philosophy at the University of Leeds. He also leads the third-year module ‘Critical Theory’, from which the Roundhouse Group emerged, and is actively involved in the Student Led Discussion Network (SLED) in the POLIS department. His research uses democratic theory and cognitive social psychology to examine the ways institutions shape our everyday thinking. This includes questions of organisational design, participatory initiatives in public policy, and the social epistemology of knowledge transfer.

Dr Naomi Head is currently an ESRC postdoctoral fellow in the Department of International Politics at Aberystwyth University and previously lectured in the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds. Her research interests include critical international theory, communicative ethics, Habermas and critical theory, humanitarian intervention and conflict transformation.

Dr Stuart Hodkinson is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research fellow and co-founded lecturers on the MA Activism and Social Change in the School of Geography, University of Leeds. His main research focus is on new urban enclosures and commons, specifically examining the motivations and impacts of urban regeneration in Britain, and asking who benefits from the restructuring of power from public to private sectors and the transformation of the city.

Laura McFarlane- Shopes is in her final year of a BA in International Development at the University of Leeds. She has campaigned to promote student participation in social change and has worked to provide an open space for deliberation and development of open ideas supporting alternative ways of living. As Communications and Internal Affairs Officer for the Union Executive, she experienced the university from the perspective of management while helping to implement alternative decision making processes. Since returning to her studies Laura has been developing an understanding of radical democracy that uses discursive design as a basis for social change.

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