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Manifestos for an International University

An Online Symposium March–June 2021

University Workers of the world unite! The time has come to ask ourselves what type of university do we really want?

Human and inhuman monsters are stalking the earth, despots and demagogues, deadly viruses known and unknown, all threatening the idea of the university and our freedom to think without justification, sanction or surveillance, to traverse national boundaries and intellectual disciplines.

How should the university respond? Does it have a duty to intervene? Is the world as such really its “business”?

With COVID-19 lockdown established on a global scale now is the time for intellectual revolt: a wake up call to university students and professors alike to draw up Manifestos for an International University and to declare its mission. Perhaps it’s a university that could only exist in our collective imagination(s), an association to serve the interests of its intellectual community and it alone. A university first and in the last instance. A university without compromise.

At a time when the idea of the university is in doubt, when its rationale is imperilled by a deadly concoction of austerity and enterprise culture, we call on all university workerswhether student or professorto submit manifestos, of no more than 3000 words and maximum 45 minutes in duration, that address the universal rights and freedoms of thinking in and for itself.

Note the Academy (Ακαδημία) on which the modern liberal university is modelled was named after the olive grove in Athens where it was built, in c. 387 BC, having been inherited by Plato, and that unlike today’s global academies the word originally had no academic signification whatsoever. As for Socrates, Plato’s master and model thinker, he was sentenced to death by the state for the corruption of youth and for impiety.

University Workers of the World Unite! We have nothing to lose but our academic illusions!