Weber, Tolstoj and the Usefulness of Universities

Worth checking out

Work in Progress

Max_Weber_1894

by Doris Ruth Eikhof

In the past two years UK universities have frantically prepared their submissions to the sector-wide assessment of their research prowess and output, the Research Excellence Framework, or REF. They have evaluated research outputs, written about their research environment and strategy and poached star researchers from other in institutions to make themselves look good on paper. The REF submissions are being evaluated as I type and the next two years are likely to be spent dealing with the fall-out once results are announced. In the current pause between those two bouts of frantic REF-related activity, I stumbled across a voice from the past that, as so infuriatingly often, succinctly and authoritatively dealt with a key issue this round of REF posed for the first time: that of the relationship between academia and its non-academic context – let’s call it society.

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