An academic and proud of it?

A real challenge to think back to why we are in the academic space, the values that we need to hold onto!

There was never a golden age in which academic values such as universalism and disinterestedness were not at risk, argues Bruce Macfarlane. But in an age of sponsorism and insecurity, all scholars must hold fast to the precepts that make our intellectual endeavours worthwhile

Which values define what it means to be an academic today? We live in an age in which universities take full advantage of their intellectual property. The divide between public and private institutions has blurred. Students have become customers and lecturers are treated as service providers and knowledge entrepreneurs. This brave new world threatens the values that are core to academic identity.

In an article published in the Journal of Legal and Political Sociology in 1942, the US sociologist Robert Merton identified what he regarded as the four norms of science: communism, universalism, disinterestedness and organised scepticism – or Cudos for short. Merton’s use of the word “science” included the social as well as hard sciences. The norms he identified might be thought of as academic values more broadly. The aphorism Cudos has since become widely used. It represents one of the most important and enduring expressions of academic values.

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By admin

Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst  (Lion Hudson, 2014; second edition in process) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.

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