Sunday, 14 February 2010

Thesis is now in TWO parts, not three

I am unbelievably excited that the High Court said no to UWA's request to appeal against Gray again, mostly because now it is definitely over in time to go into my thesis.

I have changed the structure: the last 3-part version was too long and contained things I had not really researched. I've now made it two-parts and 6 chapters and my only remaining worry is whether chapter 1 and chapter 4 are too repetitive. Below is the summary, hwre is the full version

The thesis: The competence to determine knowledge shifted from academic to the market – so academic freedom becomes market freedom.

The structure: is in two parts, focusing on the way knowledge since the second world war has been promoted as being ‘for the nation’ and ‘for the economy’ and the consequences, for knowledge, of each. The two parts are internally chronological.

Part A: Knowledge and the Nation
Shows the pathway from when the nation realised it had a strategic need for university knowledge to when it started to control it.

1. Knowledge and Civilisation: 1939-1966
Knowledge, identified as important to the nation during the war, was doubly so after it, attached as it was to a now shaky idea of civilisation. This importance led to a funding structure that made knowledge purchasable, with government its potential buyer.

2. Knowledge and Revolution 1967-1973
Student movements established that academic freedom can prevent canonical knowledge and allow innovation but they also undermined the authority of the university and accidentally created the conditions that would position the student as consumer.

3. Knowledge and National Priorities 1980-1989
Government in the 1980s used funding structures to try to control knowledge

Part B: Knowledge and The Economy
Shows that considering university knowledge to be for the economy commodified knowledge and undermined any valid purpose for the university

4. Knowledge and Progress 1945-1973
After the Second World War, civilisation and progress came to mean technological progress and economic growth, positioning universities as central to the economy

5. Knowledge-based Economy 1973-1989
In the 1980s, knowledge was so important to the economy that government felt it could not afford to leave it in the hands of academics and their gift economy

6. Economy of Knowledge 1986-1996
Universities attempted to control the knowledge trade through intellectual property, reconfiguring their business as a trade in knowledge, undermining their purpose


Epilogue: UWA v Gray
Universities are now often commercially motivated and so are many academics. The union has traditionally claimed to protect academic freedom, but in commercial terms it may not always be in the best interests of their members to do so. Government has encroached on university territory substantially: who will now protect academic freedom and ensure university quality?

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