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Open Access Publications from the University of California

On the Challenge of Writing a University History: The University of Oslo

  • Author(s): Benum, Edgeir
  • et al.

This paper discusses the task of writing university history. While recognizing universities as institutions with universal features, the author stresses that important insights may be gained by assessing carefully the significance of the local and national circumstances within which universities have developed. He further argues for an integrative approach - the need to illuminate the dynamics of change through studying the interplay between various spheres of activity in universities, as well as the interplay between the university and its broader social context. Finally, he makes a case for analyzing the universities as suppliers of knowledge for society not only in terms of instrumental usefulness - as today seems fashionable - but also in terms of knowledge that has served to create cultural identities and "world views".

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