‘Sustainable development’ and higher education may signify very different things, while the latter seems trapped in a place of perpetual problems and crises. Neoliberal, unequal ‘development’ is clearly in a place of deep crises, entirely contradicting any claim to ‘sustainability’. Crises are difficult, but their difficulty presents us with opportunities ‘to analyse and comprehend what is at stake for higher education’ (Khoo, Taylor and Andreotti 2016, 86). Crises are the ‘instances when normativity is laid bare: the principles, suppositions, premises, criteria and logical or causal relations’ (Roitman, 2013, 3). The crises of higher education and neoliberal ‘development’ represent valuable opportunities to surface questions of higher education’s normative purposes and relational ethics.