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CAUT Bulletin Archives

April 2012

Multiversities, Ideas, and Democracy

George Fallis. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2011; 475 pp; ISBN: 978-1-44261-267-9, paper $37.95 CAD.

Multiversities are sprawling conglomerates that provide liberal undergraduate, graduate and professional education. As well-springs of innovation and ideas, these universities represent the core of society’s research enterprise. Multiversities, Ideas, and Democracy argues that, in the contemporary world, multiversities need to be conceptualized in a new way, that is, not just as places of teaching and research, but also as fundamental institutions of democracy. Building upon the history of universities, George Fallis discusses how the multiversity is a distinctive product of the later 20th century and has become an institution of centrality and power. He examines five characteristics of our age — the constrained welfare state, the information technology revolution, postmodern thought, commercialization and globalization — and in each case explains how the dynamic of multiversity research alters societal circumstances, leading to the alteration of the institution itself and creating challenges to its own survi­val. The character of our age demands reap­praisal of the multiversity, Fallis argues, in order to safeguard them from so-called ‘mission drift.’ Writing from a multinational perspective, this study establishes how similar ideas are shaping multiversities across the Anglo-American world. Ultimately, Fallis seeks to uncover the ethos of the multiversity and to hold such institutions accountable for their contribution to democratic life.

Text provided by publisher.