Emory's New President and the Idea of
Thomas G. Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching
Rebecca Stone-Miller, Associate Professor of Art History and Faculty
and the Art of Education
Geoffrey Broocker, Walthour Delaperriere Professor of Ophthalmology
versus Research: Does It Have to Be That Way?
Lucas Carpenter, Charles Howard Candler Professor of English, Oxford
a Top-Tier Research University
Lawrence W. Barsalou, Winship Distinguished Research Professor of
Psychology, and Elaine Walker, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of
Psychology and Neuroscience
Diversity, and Teaching
David B. Gowler, Pierce Professor of Religion, Oxford
Corey L.M. Keyes, Associate Professor of
from the Lighter Side
Vicki Powers, Asssociate Professor of Mathematics and
For the last two years, I've been co-chair of
the Commission on Research at Emory, charged by President Bill Chace
to take stock of Emory as a research university and to formulate
guidelines for its future. My work on this commission has opened
my eyes to the broad spectrum of research and scholarship across
the university, from the humanities and the social and natural sciences
to the health sciences, the professional schools, and the performing
Of the many issues and problems that have emerged, two seem to me
especially worthy of attention. They are perennial problems, but
they need to be addressed with a fresh perspective by
our new president.
Emory is a research university, not a research
institute or a collection
of research institutes. To me this means that its
is intimately connected to its teaching mission.
been criticized for favoring research at the expense of teaching,
for forcing scholars to publish or perish and thus to
The response of university leaders, including Emory's, is to promise
a better balance between teaching and research, giving more weight
to teaching in the evaluation of professors for tenure and promotion,
instructing graduate students in pedagogy, and so forth.
But these responses seem to concede the point that teaching
and research are at best parallel and unrelated, at
and incompatible activities. This point needs to be challenged.
University leaders who know what the university is really about
need to communicate to the public a very different conception of
the relation between teaching and research.
For one thing, good teaching depends
on research. Academic disciplines are not fixed bodies of knowledge
to be transmitted to students in the most accessible or entertaining
way. They are complex and changing programs of inquiry, more questions
than answers, more problems than solutions. This is as true of ancient
history and philosophy as it is of physics and neuroscience. Students
learn what these subjects are really about from people who are actively
engaged in advancing inquiry and who are excited about their subjects--not
as observers but as participants.
But research also depends on teaching. Research and scholarship
need to be shared and communicated. Publications and professional
meetings serve this function at one level, but most
that teaching has a special role in research.
Many professors will affirm that they never really
discipline until they began to teach it. Advanced
ask the most sophisticated questions, and here the professor is
preparing the next generation of researchers, ensuring
of the discipline and influencing its future direction. Teaching
an introductory course to freshmen, by contrast, forces
to rethink the fundamentals of his or her discipline.
questions of the uninitiated can be the most difficult to answer.
Many professors may want to teach fewer courses and
have more time
for research. But few of us would wish to give up
we know its importance for our research.
The university and society.
Whatever happened to the ivory tower? Universities used to be criticized
for being remote from the real needs of society, but this reproach
is rare today. The reason is that, especially in some fields, universities
have become a service industry, filling stations for government
and business. Universities measure their research by the millions
of dollars in grants and contracts that flow into their coffers
from outside. Legions of researchers live on "soft money"
and spend large amounts of their time applying for grants. As a
result, topics of research are determined by what government and
industry are willing to pay for. Subjects are ignored for which
there is no immediate cash demand.
University leaders must recognize and articulate what is at stake
here. The independence of research and inquiry, indeed academic
freedom itself, is getting lost. Ideas, the need and desire to know,
not the availability of funds, should be the primary drivers of
research activity. The scholar's responsibility is not merely to
do research but to determine what inquiries are worthy of pursuit.
Means must be found for regaining the independence of the academy.
Does this mean retreating to the ivory tower? Not at
all. The university
should not ignore the outside world, but part of its
is to distinguish between what society wants and what it needs.
The university may best serve society by maintaining its critical
distance and its independence.