Abstract - The Information Society 28(4)

The Evolution of Knowledge in the University

Nikhil Bhattacharya

This essay analyses how the university arrived at its present crisis regarding research and teaching, especially in the sciences. The medieval university began as a teaching institution for training in three professions: law, medicine, and theology, along with a preparatory arts program. In the nineteenth-century, universities in absolutist German states added research in natural and social sciences. However, the cultures of research institutions and teaching schools proved difficult to integrate outside of Germany. Moreover, our present market economy and democratic polity differ dramatically from the cultural contexts that gave rise to earlier models. We therefore need to rethink the future of teaching and research in contemporary universities to determine how the enterprise might be sustainable in any recognizable form. The goal of this historical and critical inquiry is to better understand how contemporary university teaching and research might be supported, given today’s very different political and economic circumstances.

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