The Myths of Academia: Open Inquiry and Funded Research

Abstract
Both professors and institutions of higher education benefit from a vision of academic life that is grounded more firmly in myth than in history. According to the myth created by that traditional vision, scholars pursue research wherever their drive to knowledge takes them, and colleges and universities transmit the fruits of that research to contemporary and future generations as the accumulated wisdom of the ages. Yet the economic and social forces operating on colleges and universities as institutions, as well as on the interests of faculty members within them, are making the myth embodied in the traditional ideal of the academy more and more difficult to sustain. Questions about what an institution of higher education ought to be, about what professors ought to do, and about what relations professors ought to have to the institutions which employ them are being raised and pushed to the fore. These are not theoretical questions, but practical questions of immediate import that must be answered relatively quickly -- and wisely -- if institutions of higher education and professors are not to find themselves inextricably in the grip of forces they cannot change. The myth of disinterested academic research-however beautiful -- and however beneficial -- is under siege.
Keywords funded research  academic freedom  university economics
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