University Dynamics and European Integration is a collaborative effort aiming to explore the visions underlying the attempts to reform the European University. Editors Peter Maassen, professor in higher education studies at the University of Oslo, and Johan P Olsen, professor in political sciences at ARENA - Centre for European Studies, also at the University of Oslo, are joined by a team of researchers to explore the proposed changes. The book is organized under the four following visions for the university, set out in an earlier paper by Olsen, a well-known and prolific author in the area of institutionalism.
A rule-governed community of scholars.
An instrument for national political agendas.
An internal representative democracy.
A service enterprise embedded in competitive markets.
Each of the visions conforms to a chapter in the book, and the corresponding elaborations of them represent the bulk of the work. These chapters are followed by a discussion on the European Reform Processes, as outlined in the Bologna Declaration and the Lisbon Summit. The book ends with an in-depth analysis on the processes, determinants, and consequences of change within the university.
This work is a thought-provoking discussion that takes on not only the proposed changes and reforms that will affect Europe's universities, but questions the very nature of the inquiry made by policy makers. Under the umbrella of "modernization," reforms are being preached to universities without much reflection on what is being asked. Guided by the current of practices from the New Public Management discourse, the reformers are championing a university that functions as a modern enterprise. These reforms are aimed at altering the historic ethos of the university. Maassen and Olsen chastise the European Commission on the lack of substantial research about today's university in Europe. The Commission's conclusions are based on `thin' data. "Strong convictions based on weak evidence," claim the authors. Much of the research that guides policy makers, claim Maassen and Olsen, is based on American universities; if so, the reforms called for amount to an actual Americanization more than a contextualized transformation of the European university. What needs to be discussed here is a consideration of "what kind of university for what kind of society?" This book invites reformers to reflect on their intents. According to Maassen and Olsen, the call for entrepreneurship questions the Humboldtian ideal of a community of autonomous professors and doubts that self-governing scholars will produce the best results for society at large. Maassen and Olsen are sounding the alarm about the proposed changes. Entrepreneurial expectations in the form of steering research toward pragmatic results within the market place threaten academic freedom. These reformers seem unaware that they are questioning and seeking to change the very ethos of the university, the authors argue.
Calls for more entrepreneurial institutions are indeed a challenge to the ethos of the European university, which by tradition has a monastic ethos;' the monks merely reflected on knowledge and shunned profit-making endeavors. Can the university of Europe be modeled more after the Puritan entrepreneurial model that founded Harvard? European policy makers really hope it can happen, and they have outlined this intent in proposed reforms and legislation. Policy makers have picked on a topic where academics have heartfelt things to say, and this work promises to be an invitation to a significant and interesting discussion.