Johan Ernst Gunnerus as a University Reformer of the Enlightenment

  • John Peter Collett


In 1771 J.E. Gunnerus outlined a reform of the University of Copenhagen. The reform plan was commissioned by J.F. Struensee who at the time was the ruler of Denmark and Norway and was part of a wide reform movement aiming at a thorough modernization of the Danish states. The article summarizes parts of the university reform project and discusses them in the context of Enlightenment philosophical thinking on the nature of scientific knowledge. One byproduct of the university reform proposal was a projected university in Norway. The reform proposals came to a standstill when Struensee was overthrown in 1772.


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