Characterised by creativity and attuned to the needs of their age, the first European universities have important lessons for higher education today, says Miri Rubin
As a historian of the Middle Ages, I am frequently asked about the links between universities then and now. Given the momentous changes that are affecting modern-day institutions of higher education and that touch the lives of so many people - students, parents, teachers, employers - such questions have become more frequent and more urgent, too.
All historians (especially those of us who focus on more ancient times) delight in pointing out parallels between "our" period and the present. An assessment of the role of medieval universities reveals some telling affinities between higher education then and now - and may hold lessons for today's turbulent times.
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