Leaving Academia to Become Part of the Knowledge Industry: The Unintended Consequence of Diminishing Creativity

By Fernando F. Padró and James Horn.

Published by Journal of the World Universities Forum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

It is argued that higher education institutions are part of a knowledge industry feeding a knowledge economy. One of the positive consequences of making education the key to future economic prosperity is a pronounced interest in access, affordability, learning, and benefits to individuals and society at large. However, there is the negative consequence of national interest potentially overriding individual preferences as exemplified by government efforts to steer students toward science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in order to generate the intellectual capital needed to fuel national economies. Such efforts place higher value on the aforementioned academic disciplines while de facto de-emphasizing others that are not seen as direct contributors to the national well-being based on extra- and intra-institutional allocational directives generated to meet these expectations. What happens to disinterested research? Creativity, an intended consequence linked to economic gain, however, is a subjective act based on individual interaction with the surrounding environment. To be creative, individuals must enjoy what they are doing, not worry about failure, or be self-conscious among other things (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996). Limiting preferences revisits Snow’s (1959) concern about the dissonance between disciplines, restraining the impact that interdisciplinary has on intellectual capital. This paper explores how a university’s transition to an element of the knowledge industry threatens student freedom to learn (Lernfreiheit) by indirectly limiting disciplinary choice and creativity as defined by discovery or through innovation and refinement.

Keywords: Academic Capitalism and Corporatization, Autopoiesis, Creativity and Flow, Intellectual Capital and Knowledge Industry, Lehrfreiheit and Lernfreiheit, Policy Steering

Journal of the World Universities Forum, Volume 1, Issue 4, pp.113-120. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 546.398KB).

Dr. Fernando F. Padró

Associate Professor, Education Leadership and Special Education Department, Monmouth University, Tinton Falls, New Jersey, USA

Fernando Padró specializes in quality assurance, higher education systems, and faculty governance. His research interests include institutional quality assurance at universities, the role of accreditation, and organizational psychology of universities. He is a former Baldrige National Quality Award Examiner and is a Project AQIP reviewer for The Higher Learning Commission.

Dr. James Horn

Visiting Associate Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, School of Education, Cambridge College, Cambridge, MA, USA

Dr. Horn is Visiting Associate Professor in the doctoral program in Educational Leadership, School of Education at Cambridge College located in Cambridge, Massachussets. His interests include the application of complexity and systems theories in educational foundations.

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