A university in troubled times

Queen's, Belfast, 1945–2000

Leslie A. Clarkson

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ISBN: 1-85182-862-1
June 2004. 272pp.

Queen's, Belfast, grew out of the Queen's University in Ireland founded in 1845. It became independent in 1908-9 and until 1965 it was the only university in Northern Ireland. Queen's occupies a special place in Ulster society; being looked upon by many people as much a bulwark of Ulster as Stormont, the Presbyterian Church, and the shipyard. This special place is a strength but it has also created problems, especially during the decades of the 'Troubles'. For more than thirty years, Queen's operated in a community torn by civil conflict, trying simultaneously to maintain its academic commitments to the international world of scholarship and at the same time endeavouring to adjust to a society undergoing profound economic, social and political changes.

This book traces the growth of Queen's during the second half of the 20th century, from a small university of 2000 students to one approaching 20,000. It examines its academic strengths and weaknesses and how it has been affected by changes in policy in Stormont and Westminster towards universities. A unifying theme is how Queen's has responded to the changes in Northern Ireland as a whole.

Leslie A. Clarkson is emeritus-professor of social history, Queen's University Belfast. His most recent publication (with E.M. Crawford) is Feast and famine: a history of food and nutrition in Ireland, 1500–1920 (2002).

A university in troubled times