Friday, May 18, 2012

academia suppresses creativity...,

TheScientist | Creativity enhances life. It enables the great thinkers, artists, and leaders of our world to continually push forward new concepts, new forms of expression and new ways to improve every facet of our existence. The creative impulse is of particular importance to scientific research. Without it, the same obstacles, ailments, and solutions would occur repeatedly because no one stepped back and reflected to gain a new perspective.

Unfortunately, in the academic world—where much of today’s scientific innovation takes place—researchers are encouraged to maintain the status quo and not “rock the boat.” This mentality is pervasive, affecting all aspects of scientific research from idea generation to funding to the training of the next generation of scientists.

Academic leadership
Many who succeed in advancing to leadership positions in academia have been cautious, making few enemies and stirring little controversy. But such a strategy fails to generate the insights that drive scientific fields of research forward. The history of science is filled with mavericks who refused to accept the prevailing theories and challenged the status quo. In the field of infectious diseases, those scientific mavericks included Louis Pasteur, whose germ theory was ridiculed; Joseph Lister, who promoted the concept of sterilization; and Ignaz Semmelweis, who determined the cause of puerperal fever and emphasized the importance of hand washing as a preventative measure. In recent years, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren challenged the dogma that peptic ulcer disease was the result of stress when they proposed and proved that this disease was actually caused primarily by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori.

In today’s environment, out-of-the-box thinking is ever more important, as change is now the rule. The internet combined with the availability of powerful personal computers and smart phones has greatly enhanced the worldwide sharing of ideas, and as a consequence, the rate of change is progressively accelerating. All institutions including our academic centers need to adapt and reevaluate policies concerning how progress and success are defined.

Effective responses to environmental challenges require adaptive leaders. These leaders can convince others to change their viewpoints, challenging prevailing scientific dogma as well as more logistical issues such as the methodologies used in the lab. This type of influence is critical to easing the sense of loss and anxiety that comes with change. Common responses to these emotions include procrastination, denial, and discontentment, which can perpetuate an environment that resists change—and progress. Ironically, the tenure system designed to allow academic professors to speak freely without risk of losing their position also allows them to resist change and discredit leaders who encourage it.


umbrarchist said...

Are we at the end of the World War II chain reaction and don't know which way to go.

WWII gave us jet planes, rockets, computers and the atomic bomb and began the Cold War.  That gave us the space race which required electronics.  So we got satellites and and really small computers.

So here we are and our satellites are deteriorating and falling out of the sky and our schools produce kids with computers who can't read.

Lots of EDUCATED people who really are not very intelligent need to keep other people ignorant in order to pretend to be intelligent.  But do we need them anymore if we use these computers properly?

Is academia technologically obsolete.

I have decided this is the quintessential science fiction story and found an author who agrees.

Omnilingual (1957) by H. Beam Piper

CNu said...

Is academia technologically obsolete.

Arguably this 19th century talking-head listening class was obsolete at the moment of its inception.