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University history seminars and symposiums

The Research Group on University History organises regular seminars and symposiums. Our events consider the history of universities in their broadest sense and we have welcomed speakers from across the UK and Europe.

Historical image

Universities: space, place and community

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

More than most institutions, universities have historically been defined in crucial ways by their relationship to spaces and places. They are typically named after and identified with the town or city in which they are located. They have also been important architectural patrons, and the buildings they have created tell us a great deal about their conception of their functions. And in their use of their own space they have consciously or unconsciously manufactured academic communities and impacted on the communities beyond their walls.

Most importantly today, the tension between their global mission and their particular special location has come under scrutiny as governments see overseas students as a source of longer-term net migration.

Heritage image

This one-day symposium seeks to consider the long and broad history of the spaces, places and communities of universities. The symposium hopes to consider questions including:

  • The importance of geographical locations for the development of universities, such as their proximity to capital cities and other institutions or their siting in out of town locations;
  • The spaces created for learning and research including libraries, laboratories and museums;
  • The communities that universities have built and how they have interacted with the communities that surround them;
  • The architectural symbolism of university architecture for the institutions and their vicinity;
  • How history can help us understand the dilemmas facing universities as they seek to develop into global institutions rooted in specific locations.

The symposium will be opened with a keynote address from Sir Peter Scott, Emeritus Professor of Higher Education Studies at the UCL Institute of Education.

All of our research events, including our regular seminars, are listed on our tours and events page.