Conference: ‘The University Reimagined: Past and Present’

This symposium on the changing role of universities through history takes place at The University of Manchester on Wednesday, 16 September.

University of Manchester degree day, 1950s


The idea of the university has been evolving since medieval Europe and the process of change continues today through innovation and reimagining of purpose.

This symposium will focus on how, when and where universities have been remodelled or repurposed and how their history informs their present. It will consider, for example: why new forms of the university were introduced; how new institutions challenged the university’s established functions, or their relationship with church and state; the process through which these institutions became a primary mechanism for knowledge production and dissemination; and how they came to serve a greater proportion of citizens.

It will also consider the context, motivations and expression of these changes across time and space and how they continue to inform and shape the universities of today.

The symposium will be opened with a keynote address by Professor William Whyte of St Johns College, Oxford, who recently published Redbrick: A Social and Architectural History of Britain’s Civic Universities.

Prof. Michael Polyani (centre), Professor of Physical Chemistry at the University of Manchester from 1933 to 1948, with Dr A.G. Evans (right), also of the Chemistry Department, observing an experiment on the formation of plastics. Ref: UPC/1/145(2).


Call for papers

Proposals are invited for 20-minute papers on topics that consider developments in the form and function of universities or which offer comparative analysis between types of universities or universities in different global settings.

Abstracts of a maximum of 200 words should be submitted to The deadline for abstracts is Friday, 17 July 2015.


There is no charge for the event and lunch will be provided.

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