Tapping the Riches of Science: Universities and the Promise of Economic Growth

“Ernest Rutherford, perhaps the greatest experimentalist of the past century, was adamant that universities should concentrate solely on fundamental science. In October 1927, he thundered to an audience at the University of Bristol: ‘I should view as an unmitigated disaster the utilisation of our university laboratories mainly for research bearing on industry.’ Industrialists, he believed, should be kept at arm’s length, unless there was no-strings cash in their pockets. How quaint Rutherford’s views now seem. For most universities today, it is a fact of life that they have to co-operate closely with industry and be ‘economically relevant’. In Tapping the Riches of Science, Roger Geiger and Creso Sa (of the universities of Pennsylvania State and Toronto, respectively) give a thorough review of the impact of the recent move towards more economic relevance in universities in the US. Their analysis, measured and meticulous, has much to inform university policymakers in other countries too, especially the UK …” (more)

[Graham Farmelo, Times Higher Education, 12 March]

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