Sunday, November 1, 2015

Thinking Outside the (University) Box

Throughout history communities of scholars and students have organized themselves in many ways to facilitate the discovery, preservation, and sharing of knowledge.  The specific organization that we are most familiar with, the university, is a relatively recent invention and it is by no means the only way to do it. Johann N. Neem made this point in a recent column, when he argued that
The academy is not the university; the university has simply been a home for academics. University education in our country is increasingly not academic: it is vocational; it is commercial; it is becoming anti-intellectual; and, more and more, it is offering standardized products that seek to train and certify rather than to educate people. In turn, an increasing proportion of academics, especially in the humanities, have become adjuncts, marginalized by the university’s growing emphasis on producing technical workers.
Neem does not expect the academy to part ways with the university any time soon, but certain well known trends are undermining academic life within the university.  For those who care about academic life, it is important to consider "ways to nurture academic life beyond the university."  In "Taking It to the Streets: Preparing for an Academy in Exile," Neem considers four options for an academy outside the university.

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