The University of Learning

The University of Learning

The University of Learning

The University of Learning


Beginning with a consideration of the idea of the university, Marton and Bowden look at the theory and practice of learning, and how universities can improve their quality and competence. Topics include research as learning, and the ethics of learning.


If this book has captured your attention enough for you to turn the cover, you might have reflected on the main title-The University of Learning-and it might have struck you as slightly odd. Of course, what else? Universities are about learning, aren't they? Well we would argue that this is not as self-evident as it may sound. If you ask people what a university is, most of them (at least most of those within a university) would say something like: 'It is a place for teaching and research' (or, perhaps, for 'teaching, research and community service'). We offer in this book an alternative, an apparently innocent, answer to that question: the university is a place for learning. This does not imply that the university is only a place for learning or that the university is the only place for learning (obviously we cannot argue that).

It is difficult to object to the statement above; that is why we refer to it as 'innocent'. In consequence it may appear to be a weak statement, but we do not think it is. We believe that, taken seriously, this statement has dramatic potential. We want to take this statement as our point of departure and ask questions such as: A place for what kind of learning? What kind of place for learning? What is learning, by the way? What should it be like? How is it brought about? Why should we learn?

Even if the statement we take as our point of departure is itself very much self-evident, taking it as a point of departure in dealing with the university is far from being so. The point we are making is this: the university does not have three aims, it has one. Teaching, research and service are all supposed to yield learning: for the individuals (through knowledge being formed which is new to a particular person), for humanity (through knowledge being formed which is new in an absolute sense) and for communities (through knowledge being formed for specific purposes). Hence the title The University of Learning.

When reading this book you will encounter discussions about bodies in uniform motion, computer languages, clinical decision making, the theory of evolution, planetary motion around the Sun, DNA, supply and demand, solving equations, Anne Frank's diary, acoustic design, and force and acceleration. This may seem curious. Isn't the book about learning and about the

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