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Document Type

Engaging a New Conversation

Abstract

At Danish universities, the governance structure is regulated by law. This structure was radically changed in 2003, abolishing the republican rule of the senate consisting of academics, students, and staff in favour of an authoritarian system assigning all executive power to the vice-chancellor, or as we say in Denmark, the rector. To introduce the current situation at Danish universities, in the first two sections of this article I will compare them with more well-known counterparts in other countries. This situation is reflected in exemplary cases, and in the third section I focus on the most dramatic controversy ever encountered at a Danish university, the Koldau case, which reached national newspaper headlines and broadcasting in two rounds in 2011 and 2012. In the fourth section, I will interpret the case as an educational controversy in light of two conflicting ideas of the modern university, which may be attributed to two leading Enlightenment figures, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Denis Diderot. The conclusion is that to some extent, the failure to resist the neo-liberal university reforms in Denmark and the UK, and the drama of the Koldau case, may be explained with reference to the conflicting ideologies of those involved in these controversies.

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