Thursday, February 20, 2014

Summary: Nowotny, Gibbons, and Scott (2001) The Role of University in Knowledge Production

In this chapter, authors investigate the changing role of university in Mode 2 condition. As elaborated in Gibbon and Nowotny’s work (1994), in Mode 1 condition, “problems are set and solved in a context governed by the, largely academic, interests of a specific community”, where as Mode 2 is governed by heterogeneous groups, and more socially accountable and reflexive. (Gibbons, Limoges, Nowotny, Schwartzman, Scott, and Trow, 1994) In this chapter, authors are making normative claims how future of University should be. Main points are as follow.

1.     Have we ever been in pure Mode 1?
“Under the regime of Mode-1 science the universities exercised scientific hegemony through their production of ‘pure’ research.” (p.80) However, author question that the university’s dominant role is a recent phenomenon. Rather than holding the prime role as a frontier of research, university have taken charge of seemingly conflicting two roles, 1) reproduction of a cultivated elite (in other words, role as an educational institution), and 2) development as a scientific institution. In sum, according to authors, “it would be misleading to imagine that the tensions between the social and scientific roles of the university are new.”

2.     We have been in Mode 2, and this trend has been accelerated
Consequently, authors argue that we are in the age of Mode-2 regime. If we accept the Mode-2 knowledge production is taking place, the distinction between social system and the knowledge system is not valid anymore. Indeed, scientific and social role of the university is not, and should not be, a zero-sum game, but a compatible. Furthermore, these two roles could be mutually sustainable in Mode-2. The implications of Mode-2 are that 1) knowledge production is transcending the disciplinary boundaries, 2) more actors are participating in knowledge production, and 3) Knowledge Society is emerging. As a result, the boundary of role of teaching and research in university is breaking down, because knowledgeable people educated in university are actors of knowledge production in Mode-2 regime.

3.     What should university in Mode-2 be?
In a word, authors claim that “the future university will need to be more of a synergetic institution”, in two senses which are 1) in terms of role of both teaching and research, and 2) in terms of boundary between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the institution (de-institutionalization). Authors expect that the distinction or boundary between teaching/research and inside/outside of university will not vital anymore. As a conclusion, authors suggest that Mode-2 university will have to be both adaptable and resilient, so that “elite university cannot abandon the wider social responsibilities it has acquired, and mass institutions cannot be discounted as research-producing institutions.”

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