Leadership and Cooperation in Academia
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Leadership and Cooperation in Academia

Reflecting on the Roles and Responsibilities of University Faculty and Management

Edited by Roger Sugden, Marcela Valania and James R. Wilson

Across the world academic institutions are being questioned by their stakeholders and pressured to change. Answering these questions requires that academics and professional managers in universities think about their work, its value and organisation. The book highlights the need for space and stimulus to reflect on the responsibilities, roles and expectations that they identify for themselves, and that others place upon them – then, they might be better able to understand and to act. Similarly, policymakers and higher education commentators need the space and stimulus to reflect on the role of universities. This book will provide this space and an invaluable contribution to the stimulus.
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Chapter 3: Balancing the core activities of universities: for a university that teaches

Reflecting on the Roles and Responsibilities of University Faculty and Management

Gert Biesta


The question as to how to balance the core activities of the university can be taken as a simple technical question. In that case – and on the assumption that there are three core activities: teaching, research and service – balancing would mean something like doing one-third of each. One may perhaps wish to argue that everything a modern university does should be research-led, research-based or research-driven, in which case the balancing would be a matter of putting research first and making sure that the other activities follow proportionally. Or one might want to make the case that the university should first and foremost provide service – service to the community, service to society, or service to the economy, for example – in which case considerations of service should drive teaching and research. Yet this already shows that the question of balancing is actually never simply an arithmetical issue but leads us straight to the question of what the university is for. This is the question I will pursue in this chapter in order to develop a line of thinking that may help in engaging with the question of balancing in a more imaginative way.

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