The Core University

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The education of young adults is a task of a democratic society.  Here I will propose the notion of a core university, which is an economic institution that I think is resilient and that nurtures a resilient full education. The core university is a university engaged in the narrow business of education in which it offers accomplished researchers long-term employment contracts and sells shorter-term research-informed education to students. Cutting edge research is associated with uncertainty and researchers are willing to forgo high salaries for the certainty of tenure in a stable work environment.  Students, are attracted by the prospect of being a member of a high quality research-informed community.

The core university faces similar risks as those faced by a bank that is exclusively engaged in making long-term risky loans and borrowing short-term via deposits. Long term contracts for scholars are risky and a main priority of the core university is to guarantee a full education for the students who pass through its intellectual community. The core university has its own particular features.
  1. There is no room for fancy entrepreneurialism at a core university. The core university does not involve itself in real estate speculation nor does it accumulate patents and trademarks. The core university is not the consultancy arm of industry and its business does not include directed research. Its activities have simply to do with the education of its students and providing an environment of academic freedom for its researchers.
  2. There is no room for managerialism at a core university. That type of leadership is not needed because the university’s business is very simple. Deans, presidents, chancellors, are offices to which university academics volunteer. The positions are not filled by the most talented managers or the most astute entrepreneurs.That wastes the university’s resources; the university encourages its  members to research and teach in areas in which they are particularly talented, and if those happen to be management and entrepreneurialism, then perhaps these members can teach into the economics program.
  3. The core university is an intellectual village where education is a  dialogue between all of its members, students and researchers. The university has a physical geographic location where students and teachers are members of a community in the full sense.  The core universities want students and researchers who spend their days on campus, it places great value on proximate  learning.  This is because in a core university every member of the intellectual village, including students, is involved in and contributes to teaching.
  4. A core university is open to the public. It is the intellectual home of a broad community. Its libraries, museums and facilities are accessible to the general public. The core university does not do secret research or research whose results are hidden in expensive journals or hidden in confidential reports to government and industry. Its research is a public good and the outcomes of its research are freely accessible. In a core university all lectures and tutorials are open to the public. It is a welcoming intellectual home for all of society’s intellectuals.
A core university is a resilient economic institution but it is not necessarily a great university. In addition to being an intellectual community, the great university’s key priority is to offer an education that nurtures intellectual freedom and not simply a desiccated education associated exclusively with professional or accredited training. Students enter university from an intellectual wilderness and are likely to leave it to an intellectual wasteland.* So for many students the university years are their only opportunity to engage in an intellectually liberated community and the hope of a great university is that in those few years young adults mature in a vibrant free intellectual community that gives them a liberated resilience to the recursively bubbling authoritarian and at best incoherent ideas in society.  Undoubtably, in regard to the greatness of a University I am convinced by Theodore Adorno’s (*) theory of education.
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