All entries for Monday 28 September 2009

September 28, 2009

Draft David Mitchell for Board Membership in a UK Research Council

Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/sep/27/david-mitchell-pointless-studies-survey

Yes, that David Mitchell – the one from the ‘Peep Show’, ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look’ and numerous comedy quiz shows on British radio and television. He’s also a Cambridge history grad and one of the most articulate and insightful commentators on the state of higher education today – professional academics and certainly government officials included.

Beneath the title of this blogpost, I have provided a link to an article that appeared in the Observer this past Sunday (where he has a regular column), which takes comic aim at the proposed standard of ‘practical relevance’ put forward by the Research Excellence Framework, which is the successor to the UK’s Research Assessment Exercise.

What’s most interesting about this piece is that Mitchell only has to tweak the straight version of the story a little to produce massive comic effect. Yes, it is pretty st-o-o-o-pid for the public sector to fund mainly research that demonstrates short-term economic and social utility when that would be precisely the sort of research that would most naturally attract private funding. State funding is supposed to make up for – not contribute to – market failure.

Of course, Mitchell overlooks the possibility that, as in the case of the banks, the state is trying to bail out the charities and other private funders, whose coffers have been depleted by the global credit crunch. It’s a stretch, I know. But given the absurdity of the official policy, why shouldn’t its justification be at least as absurd, if not more so?

Mitchell is also spot-on in associating so-called pointless research with a society that thinks beyond sheer animal survival. Indeed, if we can think only in terms of research for the sake of survival, then we should cut out the research middleman altogether and simply focus state funds on implementing solutions that facilitate survival. Surely, if our straits are so dire, we don’t have time for any research whatsoever!

To end on a constructive note, I would like to invite David Mitchell to put himself forward for membership in one of the UK’s publicly funded research councils, probably Arts and Humanities (AHRC) or Economic and Social (ESRC). These are administered by the ominously named Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (of which Higher Education is a subdivision). Here is the website: http://www.dius.gov.uk/science/research_councils/public_appointments/council_members

You will see that openings for these councils will be advertised later in the Autumn. Council members are typically people who do not work in academia but are seen as ‘stakeholders’ in the future of academia. Comedians certainly fit that bill, given their large student market – not to mention the source of much of their funniest material!

Pass the suggestion along: Draft David Mitchell!


September 2009

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
Aug |  Today  | Oct
   1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30            

Search this blog

Most recent comments

  • Unfortunately it seems your undergrads have missed the crux of the argument i.e. The possibilities t… by Luke Robert Mason on this entry
  • Philosophers are supposed to be wise. The problem here seems to be related to the conflict with this… by Dr. Akira Kanda on this entry
  • If metaphysicians were allowed to enjoy the status that they should have – being critics and propone… by Tom Milner-Gulland on this entry
  • Hi, I would like to hear opinions of kids to the advertising of products. Why do they buy the produc… by Kay zum Felde on this entry
  • Thanks, Lawrence, for this comment. I didn't know Nutt was unpaid. But as your comment already sugge… by Steve Fuller on this entry

Blog archive

Loading…
Not signed in
Sign in

Powered by BlogBuilder
© MMXVIII