16 April 2010

The Great American University

This is a Must Read Review of a Must Read Book. The Great American University by Jonathan Cole. Cole was the Provost and Dean of Faculty of Columbia University and a former colleague in the Sociology department there of such luminaries as Robert K. Merton and Paul Lazarsfeld.

Let me just emphasize some of his findings. Cole lists some core values, which are, the reviewer notes, "a kind of educational 12 commandments" and which "should be touchstones for the sector".

1. promote universalism so that merit prevails and only impersonal criteria are used in establishing scientific facts;
2. favour organised scepticism and question anything that resembles dogma;
3. create new knowledge through the provision of a decent infrastructure including laboratories and research libraries;
4. guarantee free and open communication of ideas and allow for criticism through open and public exchange;
5. advocate genuine disinterestedness so that individuals do not profit financially from their research;
6. promote free inquiry and academic freedom so that orthodoxies are constantly questioned;
7. base research on international communities that communicate openly with each other;
8. use peer-review systems so that arguments are tested by the best in the field;
9. work for the common good so that a more enlightened public can emerge;
10. ensure that governance involves the "company of equals", making sure that academics have a significant voice in running the institution they are part of;
11. promote intellectual progeny so that the next academic generation can emerge;
12. maintain the intellectual vitality of the community by attracting the best minds.
Plenty of food for thought here. Note that the restructuring of Universities undertaken in the last ten years in the UK, by the Labour Government, in the light of the Lambert Review, explictly violates 9.


Anonymous said...

And the policies of many UK universities explicitly violate 5.