The Future of the European University: Liberal Democracy or Authoritarian Capitalism?
Sharon Rider: Uppsala University Science and Technology Studies Center, Uppsala University, Sweden
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Theme: What’s the Use of Cultural Research?
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This paper examines the prevalent notion that that the production of knowledge, academic research and teaching can and ought to be audited and assessed in the same manner as the production of other goods and services. The emphasis on similarities between industry and the academy leads to a neglect of fundamental differences in their aims and, as a consequence, a tendency to evaluate scientific research in terms of patents and product development and colleges and universities in terms of the labour market. The article examines the idea of the free academy, on the one hand, and compares and contrasts it to the idea of free enterprise, on the other. It is argued that the view of the university as a supplier of specific solutions for pre-determined, non-scientific needs (a workforce with skills currently in demand, innovations for commercial partners, justifications for political decisions, etc) undermines the public legitimacy of university science and weakens the fabric of scientific training and practice. The article proposes that the university’s main purpose must be to provide a recognized neutral, autonomous agency of rigorous, disinterested investigation and scientific education, which constitutes a necessary condition for an enlightened liberal democracy: an informed, capable and critical citizenry.

Keywords: Academic freedom; basic research; higher education; innovation; Humboldt; research policy; science studies

Volume 1, Theme: Theme: What’s the Use of Cultural Research?, Article 7, 2009

Sharon Rider
The Future of the European University: Liberal Democracy or Authoritarian Capitalism?
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  • Volume 1, Theme:: Theme: What’s the Use of Cultural Research?, Article 7, 2009

    Sharon Rider
    The Future of the European University: Liberal Democracy or Authoritarian Capitalism?
    Note: the following are taken directly from CrossRef
  • Norma-Jo Baker (2011). Post-Soviet universities as development in practice: local experience and global lessons. Development in Practice, 21(8): 1050. DOI: 10.1080/09614524.2011.590881

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