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The future of the university: some ethico‐epistemological explorations

John Hinchcliff (Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 1 April 2006




This article aims to encourage universities to go beyond the significant obsession with the technical advances of the knowledge society and carefully assess both the epistemological and ethical principles that govern their existence. Ultimately, these principles will shape the future well being of both universities and civilization itself.


Provides a useful discussion on the future of universities.


The advance of modern technology is assessed within a context of philosophical assumptions such as promethean successism, platonic order, Cartesian rationalism, Newtonian certainty and modern materialism which are challenged by the uncertainties, complexities, and subjectivity promoted by existentialism, quantum physics, and chaos theory. The quest for wisdom takes us beyond the confines of the knowledge society to a values‐based, open, humble, caring and sharing community experience.

Practical implications

People, institutions and communities need to carefully assess their future development in terms of a carefully considered code of ethics and a clear understanding of the limits of their capacity for knowledge.


The thesis is not uncommon. The important difference is in the wide contextual and conceptual perspective together with a focus on urgency as we enter a very different future shaped by nanotechnology, biotechnology, computer science and robotology.



Hinchcliff, J. (2006), "The future of the university: some ethico‐epistemological explorations", On the Horizon, Vol. 14 No. 2, pp. 77-83.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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