Dougald Hine

The University Project

In early 2011, I made an announcement: "I want to start a university."

Go around talking like this and you quickly discover how much hunger there is for something which people have looked for and found too rarely within the university as we know it.

You also get asked what, exactly, you mean. It seems to me now that one reason for making such a wild statement is to find that out: to discover what it means, through the conversations it opens up.

The initial rush of 'The University Project' — the name given to it by my friend and co-conspirator Ben Vickers — came out of an invitation to help shape the Hub Westminster collaboration space in central London. But it soon became clear that this was one element within a longer and slower process.

This begins as an enquiry into what constitutes the promise at the heart of the university, the social good for which it stands; combined with an exploration of the possibilities for finding or creating spaces that are more hospitable to the spirit of the university than many of the institutions we have known.

The results of this take various forms, including events, collaborations, talks, academic papers, online conversations and temporary spaces.

Meanwhile, it remains my long-term ambition to create a physical home for a certain kind of learning: led by curiosity, grounded in friendship, engaged with the world, but resisting its pressures, open to surprise, and never simply a means to an end.

Of all the projects I've had the good luck to be part of, this is the one that I see being at the centre of my work in ten or thirty years' time.

>>    'The Higher Education Revolution', TEDxLondon (Sept 2011)
>>    Night Waves discussion with Stefan Collini & others (Feb 2012)
>>    'The University Project: Five Reasons' (Sept 2011)
>>    'After the Business-like University', Hub Westminster (Oct 2011)
>>    Videos from 'Universities: Past & Future' (Oct 2011)
>>    'Education for Uncertain Futures', RSA (June 2011)
>>    'The University in Transition', Winchester University, (Feb 2011)