This paper investigates the possibilities of the use of dialogue, and the dangers of the use of monologue, in higher education in the early twenty-first century, in a period facing a number of smaller- and larger-scale crises – each interpreted as an 'abyss' of some kind. How does higher education contribute, positively or negatively, to personal relationships and the risk of isolation and paranoia, institutional approaches to their own permanence, and broad economic-environmental problems? Each of these abysses is analysed in terms of dialogue, and a dialogic approach in higher education is put forward as a way to help us step away from each abyss. Crises and conflicts throughout the twentieth century might have led to a decline in confidence in dialogic approaches in and beyond educational institutions. However, the opposite was the case, and Martin Buber analysed dialogue in the midst of conflict, rather than simply when conflict was concluded. His mid-twentieth century analyses are used, here, to theorise contemporary dialogic higher education.