Friday, March 14, 2008

The Perils, Rewards and Delusions of Campus Capitalism

From a review of:
Science for Sale: The Perils, Rewards and Delusions of Campus Capitalism
by Daniel S. Greenberg
University of Chicago Press

reviewed by: Michael M. Crow
“Daniel Greenberg is widely considered the premier journalist of science policy, having written extensively on the subject over the course of its 60-year evolution in the United States. Science for Sale is his latest offering. It provides an intriguing, if idealistic, review of the issues surrounding the funding of science in the twenty-first century. Greenberg posits that science was once, and should be again, driven by the pure curiosity of scientists and not by motives influenced by the stress of external funding and the negative forces of capitalism. Unfortunately, science past did not really exist in the way he spends so much time describing in the book.
Greenberg’s idyllic views — in particular that the academic scientist and the university are best motivated by curiosity alone — are interesting. But they run counter to history, to how organizations operate and, perhaps most importantly, to the understanding that ‘the university’ itself is an idea, not an ideal or an ideology.” (...)

Comment to the review in:
NATURE, Vol 452, 13 March 2008
How academic corporatism can lead to dictatorship

SIR — Michael Crow’s Book Review of Daniel Greenberg’s Science for Sale (Nature 449, 405; 2007) calls for a response because it reflects a worsening philosophical divide in US academia between those who regard universities as analogous to corporations and think they should be run that way (mostly career administrators) and those who see universities as primarily intellectual enterprises governed by academic core values (mostly line faculty). Asserting that the university is an idea — not an ideal or an ideology — Crow, who is president of Arizona State University, plays down or ignores most of the dangerous consequences of campus capitalism.

Faculty members would generally hold that universities represent ideals as well as ideas. These are manifest in a value system that is among the first casualties of academic corporatism. Derived from political corporatism, academic corporatism is an administrative strategy that is antithetical to the spirit that academics hold dear — including openness, transparency, collegiality, meritocracy, rule-governed procedures, balanced curriculum, a level playing field for probationary faculty and participation by faculty in governance. Like its political counterpart, academic corporatism often results in dictatorships, with ideas originating only from the top and nothing going the other way. Academic assemblies, unions and senates are eviscerated, neutralized or eliminated altogether. Faculty members are disenfranchised. There is a chilling effect on free speech and the notion of an open marketplace for ideas. This can wreak havoc with a university’s curriculum, jeopardize its intellectual and educational missions and compromise its future. As former Harvard president Derek Bok said: “The end to which this process could lead is not a pleasant prospect to behold.”
G. A. Clark
Department of Anthropology, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona 85287-2402, USA

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