The excellent institution

volume 10, number 1
February, 2010
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We often understand institutions as some kind of durable structure that transcends human lives and their intentions. The walls of the institution protect its inhabitants from the dangers of the outside world, but at the price of immobility of body and mind. Institutionalization is not merely a wall that separates the inside from the outside; it also guides the way we think and act. The university is perhaps the modern institution par excellence, and its walls are crumbling fast. ‘Excellence’, the main qualifier of academic activity today, has little to do with old academic ideals of reason or Bildung. It is a self-referential system that has posited its own success as its primary goal. The protecting walls surrounding universities are now seen as barriers to developing forms of useful expertise that fit the demands of the knowledge economy. This open issue continues ephemera's engagement with the crucial theme of the changining nature of the university. It specificially explores new forms of academic institutionalization as well as attempts to escape from them.