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Knowledge Matters

Knowledge Matters: The Public Mission of the Research University

Diana Rhoten
Craig Calhoun
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 560
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  • Book Info
    Knowledge Matters
    Book Description:

    Higher education can be a vital public good, providing opportunities for students, informed citizens for democracy, and knowledge to improve the human condition. Yet public investment in universities is widely being cut, often because public purposes are neglected while private benefits dominate. In this collection, international scholars confront the realities of higher education and the future of its public and private agenda. Their perspectives illuminate the trajectory of education in the twenty-first century and the continuing importance of the university's public mission.

    Reporting from Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America, and North America, these scholars look at the different ways universities struggle to serve public and private agendas. Contributors examine the implications of changes in funding sources as well as amounts, different administrative and policy decisions, and the significance of various approaches to assessment and evaluation. They ask whether wider student access has in fact resulted in social mobility, whether more scientific research can be treated as an open-access resource, how changes in academic publishing change access to knowledge, and whether universities get full value from research sold to private corporations. At the same time, these chapters capture the confusion in the university sector over explaining academic work to a broader public and prioritizing its multiple purposes. Authors examine these practical challenges and the implications of different approaches in different contexts.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52183-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Education

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xviii)
    Diana Rhoten and Craig Calhoun
  6. ONE The Public Mission of the Research University
    (pp. 1-33)

    The university is a venerable and wonderful institution. Although it has ancient roots and played a crucial role in the Middle Ages, it has been distinctively important to the modern era. The production of knowledge and the education of a growing number of professionals are basic to both capitalist and socialist economies, to technologies that expand human capabilities, to the growth of the state and of citizen participation, and to the flourishing of civil society. The university is central to this and also to the personal development of many students and the intellectual freedom and accomplishment of many professors.


  7. TWO Great Expectations, Past Promises, and Golden Ages: Rethinking the “Crisis” of Public Research Universities
    (pp. 34-66)

    The public research university (PRU) is an institution that for a great deal of its long history was perceived in almost universally positive terms.¹ Today, however, a broad set of conditions seem to be reshaping public universities, resulting in a global view of PRUs in transformation, if not turmoil and even “crisis.” Despite cross-national increases in total government funding for higher education and research, diversifications in student enrollments in higher education, and upsurges in research investments and community engagements, conversations and publications the world over claim that the PRU as an archetype has lost its way and, as a result,...

  8. THREE “El central volumen de la fuerza”: Global Hegemony in Higher Education and Research
    (pp. 67-129)

    A small number of nations produce more than one hundred films each year: France, Italy, Iran, China, Japan, India, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Although the United States is not the largest producer of films, American films are watched everywhere, and the United States exports more film and television than it imports. In most cases, the balance of trade is overwhelmingly in favor of the United States. All other nations, both rich and poor, are net importers of film and television content, and most of what they import is from the United States. For example, Mexico,...

  9. FOUR The State, the University, and Society in Soviet and Russian Higher Education: The Search for a New Public Mission
    (pp. 130-158)

    Any analysis of the evolving relations between the state, the university, and society in contemporary Russia must situate that analysis in a historical understanding of how those relations have evolved since the late nineteenth century, especially how these relations have changed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. One aspect of those relations has been a consistent pattern of institutional differentiation in Russian higher education, a pattern that began well before 1917 and became apparent with the emergence of the Stalinist higher education “system” in 1928. This differentiation entailed often stark separations between Soviet universities and an array...

  10. FIVE Public Research Universities in Latin America and Their Relation to Economic Development
    (pp. 159-194)

    In 1990, the average incidence of poverty and extreme poverty¹ in Latin America was 48.3 percent and 22.5 percent, respectively. The slow economic expansion experienced since then plus the reorientation of public spending on social needs managed to only partially alleviate this situation but was far from sufficient. Indeed, in 2005, 38.5 percent of Latin America’s total population of 556 million was still poor.² This percentage is similar to the one recorded in 1980, thus implying that the absolute number of poor people in this region is much higher today than it was twenty-five years ago. This impoverishment has been...

  11. SIX When Neoliberalism Colonizes Higher Education in Asia: Bringing the “Public” Back to the Contemporary University
    (pp. 195-230)

    Despite the debates on whether the impacts of globalization on social, economic, political, and cultural developments of the contemporary world are true, we cannot deny that neoliberalism and marketization have significantly transformed our daily lives, no matter where we live in the East or West. The ideas and practices of neoliberalism dominate the economic and also the social, cultural, and political spheres (Giroux 2002; Mok and Welch 2003; Painter and Wong 2005). Critical analysts have repeatedly argued that neoliberalism is the most dangerous ideology of the moment. Henry Giroux, for example, believes that “civic discourse has given way to the...

  12. SEVEN Challenges for Higher Education in Africa, Ubuntu, and Democratic Justice
    (pp. 231-250)

    This chapter explores the public mission of universities in Africa in relation to the challenges faced by higher education on the continent. As N’Dri Assié-Lumumba pointed out, from the late 1970s to the 1990s, higher education, especially universities in Africa, was characterized by great instability, as indicated by numerous confrontations between students, faculties, administrations, and governments.¹ This instability was further compounded by economic failures, stagnation, and regression, which slowed the advancement of higher education on the continent.² Some of the reasons that African universities were unprepared to satisfy societal needs are their alienation from the broader society and the business...

  13. EIGHT The Idea of the Public University and the National Project in Africa: Toward a Full Circle, from the 1960s to the Present
    (pp. 251-289)

    The African public university is at a historic juncture in the mid-twentieth century while moving from formal colonial rule to political independence and cannot be fully understood if it is analyzed as merely a technical industrial unit geared toward processing and producing graduates.¹ This observation applies to all the political transitions in African countries that acquired their independence from a few in the late 1950s and then a majority in the 1960s and still more between the 1970s and 1990s. Irrespective of the means by which independence was acquired, because it was driven by a strong nationalist sentiment, it was...

  14. NINE Rethinking What Is Made Public in the University’s Public Mission
    (pp. 290-314)

    Higher education recently has been trading on a long-standing image of itself as dedicated to a new-economy vision of itself as “a knowledge factory capable of spawning cutting-edge ideas, high-tech corridors, spin-off companies, and jobs,” according to Jennifer Washburn’s warning in University Inc.¹ Although this sort of commercialization is driven in part by reduced public funding and support for universities, it is leading to a spiral of public disengagement.² Each step down this knowledge-factory road leads to a further loss of the university’s position in the community as a protected center of learning, operating at a remove from the larger,...

  15. TEN Public Research Universities: From Land Grant to Federal Grant to Patent Grant Institutions
    (pp. 315-341)

    According to the historian Thomas Bender, “No institution in the West, save the Roman Catholic church, has persisted longer. From small medieval beginnings [the university] has become diffused throughout the world, assuming everywhere principal responsibility for advanced teaching and, more often than not, research.”¹ Despite the university’s persistence as an institution, however, he argues that “the terms of the university’s connection to society . . . have of course changed.”

    The American public research university is no exception to Bender’s rule. Public universities emerged in the United States in the nineteenth century as a core social organization designed to deliver...

  16. ELEVEN German Universities in the New Knowledge Ecology: Current Changes in Research Conditions and University-Industry Relations
    (pp. 342-376)

    Compared with many other countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Germany is a latecomer to adapting its university system to the changing knowledge economy. The internationalization, massification, and commodification of teaching and research, as well as the blurring of boundaries between the academic world inside the university and the outside world of industry, clients, NGOs, and the state as the central stakeholders, demand a new quality of organizational actorhood from German universities. In many aspects, this actorhood would break with the governance traditions and organizational features for which German universities were well known in the...

  17. TWELVE The Micropolitics of Knowledge in England and Europe: The Cambridge University IPRs Controversy and Its Macropolitical Lessons
    (pp. 377-396)

    Redefining university-based knowledge as intellectual property—particularly since the U.S. Congress’s passage of the Bayh-Dole Patent and Trademarks Act in 1980 and the increasing commercialization of higher education over the past ten to fifteen years—has led to criticism from intellectuals both inside and outside U.S. universities and beyond. The vigor of the academics’ neoliberal onslaught on the university’s public mission, if not always in deeds then at least in words, has tended to mask the universities’ success in helping their governments’ and policymakers’ economic development around the world. Indeed, both the People’s Republic of China and European countries have...

  18. THIRTEEN Playing the Quality Game: Whose Quality and Whose Higher Education?
    (pp. 397-422)

    Increasingly demanding regulatory systems are a common feature of the changing face of higher education worldwide, despite marked differences of context and history. External quality assurance arrangements are an integral part of such regulatory mechanisms for higher education governance in both the developed and the developing world.¹ These arrangements are reshaping the public orientation of higher education, making the public accountability of higher education more exacting and bringing about far-reaching changes to traditional higher education cultures. They also are reconfiguring key relationships and power balances, for example, between government and the higher education sector, between higher education and its diverse...

  19. FOURTEEN The Academic Workplace: What We Already Know, What We Still Do Not Know, and What We Would Like to Know
    (pp. 423-456)

    In this chapter, my aim is not to analyze the academic workplace and its transformation but to review the existing literature and suggest new research perspectives. Because of the many publications on the academic profession, I have chosen a representative, but not extensive, review of the field and have organized the literature according to two main perspectives. The first consists of the research on the structure, composition, description, and analysis of the academic profession and/or academic labor markets in different countries. Most of the works I studied concern the academic profession in the Europe and North America. The second perspective...

  20. FIFTEEN Cultural Formations of the Public University: Globalization, Diversity, and the State at the University of Michigan
    (pp. 457-500)

    Most of universities’ transformations do not challenge the centrality of excellence to university work, but their public mission may be at risk with the globalization of knowledge cultures, the multiplying frames of diversity and justice informing their mission, and the relative decline in the state’s capacity to support university excellence. This risk is magnified when relatively anachronistic conceptions of the public inform the mission and practice of university work.

    By considering the relationship among proximate publics, the value of diversity, and the significance of global reference in university work, I clarify in this chapter the cultural formations (those incipient sensibilities...

  21. List of Contributors
    (pp. 501-506)
  22. Index
    (pp. 507-540)