CDBU cordially invites...

February 21, 2013

Sir Adrian Smith, vice-chancellor of the University of London, chastises colleagues in the Council for the Defence of British Universities who take “a rather naive view that beauty, truth and goodness is so self-evident that people will queue up to give you money” (“If we care, what shall we do about it?”, Research, 31 January). This is part of his defence of the “impact agenda” - an agenda that requires that researchers state not only the results of their work but also its utility even before it is done. In short, impact requires us to take the naive view that Smith rightly criticises.

My CDBU colleagues are much more likely to argue that the point of undertaking research in the first place is precisely because we do not know what constitutes the good, the true, the beautiful: that is what the research is trying to find. Further, these truths are ever changing; and that is why we must continue not only to research, but also to remain sceptical about the fictions of predicted “impact”.

Smith thinks that we in the CDBU are “aloof”. Well, here is an open invitation: let us meet in a public forum, before an audience of academics, government officials and colleagues from business, to debate impact and any of the CDBU’s stated aims (available on our website) at Smith’s discretion. Will he accept?

Thomas Docherty
Professor of English and comparative literature
University of Warwick

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Felipe Fernández-Armesto takes issue with a claim that the EU has been playing the sovereignty card in Brexit negotiations

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

John McEnroe arguing with umpire. Tennis

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman explain how to negotiate your annual performance and development review

Man throwing axes

UCU attacks plans to cut 171 posts, but university denies Brexit 'the reason'

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald