See also Research ethics, Peer review.
Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber, The Slow Professor, 2016. University of Toronto Press.
I was put off by the writing style – Berg and Seeber do not seem able to express an idea without instead quoting someone else’s expression of the idea, so every sentence features “Coleman and Kamboureli comment that” and “Collini describes” and “Readings writes” – but the message is good. Berg and Seeber argue for a slower, less rushed academia, where faculty have time to think deeply about projects instead of scheduling their days in 15-minute increments, where teaching can be given the attention it deserves, where research can be about developing understanding and not just building a CV, and where faculty can interact and communicate instead of spending faculty meetings writing emails.
Stefan Collini, What Are Universities For?, 2012. Penguin.
One cannot complain about a book which features these sentences:
Consider, for example, the now familiar phrases about how universities must ‘assure’ the ‘delivery’ of the syllabus, and so on. There is no need to dwell on the more obvious discrepancies between an education and a pizza to recognize here the dangers of encouraging the users of such language to treat a syllabus, and students’ engagement with it, as something inert, something that is simply handed over on the doorstep of their minds. (p. 107)
Collini firmly believes that universities have an inherent benefit beyond training students for jobs – that seeking understanding for understanding’s sake is an end of its own, not a means to improve the economy or benefit businesses. It is valuable to have independent institutions, not motivated by profit, to pursue inquiry wherever it may lead.
Stefan Collini, Speaking of Universities, 2017. Verso.
A follow-up to What Are Universities For?, addressing many recent changes in the UK’s funding and structure of universities (such as the move from government subsidy of tuition to merely providing students loans). Many of these changes were to make the system more “market-based”, despite students clearly not being in a position to make informed decisions about their education and the example of the United States, which shows that market competition usually takes the form of expanded student centers and more luxurious dormitories.
The main theme is as before: While economic benefit is so widely accepted as a value that it hardly needs explanation these days, a couple hundred years ago the same could be said about “building character”, or training gentlemen, or providing the next generation of clergy, and so on, all of which were stated purposes of universities at one point or another. Why must education be focused on economic growth and not some other value? Surely universities have usually been founded on the idea that they stand outside mainstream society, providing a place to study important ideas without profit motives, purely for their intrinsic worth. But now the markets have consumed everything, and we have no notion of values outside economic value. Educational policy based purely on economic value will only harm universities.
F. M. Cornford, Microcosmographia Academica, 1908. [PDF]
The finest academic cynicism ever written.
I shall take it that you are in the first flush of ambition, and just beginning to make yourself disagreeable. You think (do you not?) that you have only to state a reasonable case, and people must listen to reason and act upon at once. It is just this conviction that makes you so unpleasant.
Includes detailed instruction for the navigation of academic politics and for the obstruction of progress.