Towards Post-Modern Universities
MetadataShow full item record
At the same time that the modern, well-managed research university is coming into its own, it is being undermined by internal and external pressures and ongoing changes. One such change is the increasing importance of strategic research: “Strategic research [is] basic research carried out with the expectation that it will produce a broad base of knowledge likely to form the background to the solution of recognized current or future practical problems.” (Irvine and Martin 1984) Linked to this is the emergence of a new regime of ‘Strategic Science’, replacing the ‘Science, The Endless Frontier’ regime which stabilized after the Second World War. The traditional research university flourished under this earlier regime, where science was supported without questions being asked. The growth of universities (in size and numbers), pressures to be accountable, and competition, led to a strengthening of central management and attempts at research policy (addressing excellence as well as relevance), visible everywhere since the 1990s. The traditional research university was replaced by the modern (research) university (at least, in the perspective of the top of the university). Concurrently, a new research entity emerged: Centres of Excellence (and Relevance), with core funding from government programs (this started in the US, UK and Australia in the 1980s), universities or consortia (as with the Technological Top Institutes in the Netherlands from the late 1990s onwards). Such Centres can thrive because there is, by now, a ‘market’ for strategic research, as well as direct support of excellence by funding agencies and independent sponsors. When such Centres, as is often the case, are part of a university, they are somewhat independent in terms of resource mobilization, and they can throw their weight around because they are important for the profile and competitive position of the university. In Rip (2002), I have used my own university and its MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology as a case study. Subsequent developments show the mutual dependency of the university and this Centre for Excellence and Relevance. To put it bluntly: the university is bursting at its seams because it houses such Centres. It has to reinvent itself – or give up being a research university.