In line with some of my recent posts around academic practice, ideas of the pro-social and notions of collective I am posting a statement that I drafted some time ago. In the light of recent instrumental assessments of academic work, the privatisation of the funding to universities and the backdrop of a neoliberal consensus in politics I thought this might be of interest to some readers. It seems to me that who ‘we’ are as academics in a context in which our students present and have been molded as (highly indebted) consumers presents challenges for our identity and the relationship between universities, public, corporate and political life. All of this is in a kind of deep flux but perhaps that sense of change and uncertainty is precisely the time we should be active in helping to form and retain important aspects of academic practice that, if anything, are needed now as ever they were.
A statement of academic practice
- Academics seek to work in an environment that offers space for new ideas, thinking and discoveries that address problems outside the space of the university itself.
- We understand that the academic environment exists to help us to create, discover, share and apply knowledge through both our teaching and research.
- As academics and colleagues we seek to measure our qualities and value by reference to our provision of research and ideas to communities outside the university and through teaching which generates graduates who will also take their ideas, skills and knowledge to those communities.
- This statement acknowledges the origins of universities as publicly funded, regulated and accountable institutions, some of which were also created by local subscription.
- We recognise the potential for higher education to transform people’s lives and welcome a diverse range of students and staff to the University’s own community.
- Academics remain keen and able to communicate the excitement and value of their research to people in their city, the region and the wider world.
- Academic work is underpinned by a number of core values that are essential to scholarly pursuit and the communication of knowledge. These include collegiality, curiosity, independence of mind, innovation, internationalism of outlook and connection, openness, reflectiveness and understanding.
- As academics we believe in a higher education culture built on a positive interaction between learning, teaching and research, for their students and for communities more widely. We take collective responsibility, with colleagues who have professional, teaching and research expertise, for ensuring that this culture fosters the distinctive development of graduates that are knowledgeable and skilled, and who are responsible, independent, critical and creative thinkers with a similar commitment to the social good.*
* Adapted from the Sheffield Academic statement