Fostering Innovation and Development
Edited by Christopher Arup and William van Caenegem
Chapter 11: Commercialization of University Research and Free Diffusion – What does Experience Show Works Best in and for Australia?
Ann L. Monotti I. INTRODUCTION Universities have evolved in a haphazard and organic way. As Eric Ashby wrote in 1967, ‘A university is a mechanism for the inheritance of the Western style of civilization. It preserves, transmits, and enriches learning, and it undergoes evolution as animals and plants do. Like animals and plants, universities are products of heredity and environment’ (Ashby 1967, p. 417). Heredity accounts for the core themes in the business of Australian universities, namely teaching, research and involvement with the community. However, as Ashby notes, the environment modifies the ways in which we teach and research and engage with the community. While the fundamental principles remain, they evolve to meet the challenges of the environment in which universities choose to operate or find themselves compelled to operate in order to survive and grow. For instance, solitude and freedom in research were the essential features of the new idea that Wilhelm von Humbolt contributed to the foundation of Berlin University in 1810. While Australian universities have inherited these features, they translate in a very different manner in 2008 from the understanding of solitude and freedom in 1810 (Ashby 1967, p. 419). By way of example, in many areas of multidisciplinary research that require collaboration, it is not possible nor desirable for solitude in research, whereas solitary inquiry remains common in areas of the humanities and law. The same is true for other essential features of a university. The concept of ‘academic freedom’, which extols the virtues of the...
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