Theoretical and Conceptual Knowledge Essay

Pages: 10 (2672 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Teaching

¶ … Knowledge

Since the Colonial college to the rise of the research university and forward to the complex post-secondary environment of today that is inclusive of community and technical college systems that have expanded and in which unique partnerships and alliances have formed between universities and external stakeholders and new for-profit models of post-secondary education there has been continuity as well as change within the American higher education environment. It is argued in the work of Downey (2000) in reference to the higher education institution that "its trinity; three simultaneous incarnations in one: It is corporation, collegium and community. Each contains elements which are essential to the realization of the idea of the university, but each also contains elements and tendencies which are not readily harmonized." In the context of higher education today this work will discuss what is mean by corporation, collegium and community, putting each element of this trinity into historical context. Secondly, this work will offer reasons which each of these elements hold tendencies not easily harmonized one with the other. Finally, this work will synthesize and evaluate three critical tensions among these elements which must be recognized by the academic leader if he or she is to effectively work within the ambiguity that characterizes the contemporary university.

Research Question

The research question addressed in this study is that of how does the contemporary leader within an immensely complex and loosely coupled institution strike a health and robust, yet efficacious and moral balance among corporation, collegium and community?

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I. James Downey (2000)

According to James Downey (2000) speaking of "the idea of the university" has been a common statement since John Henry Newman (1852) and as well there have been many books published with titles that somehow refer to the higher educational institution. Downey holds that the idea of the university refers specifically to the 'essence' of the university which is to a great extent cannot be defined. Downey reports that 'university' is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as follows:

Essay on Theoretical and Conceptual Knowledge Assignment

University. 1. An institution of higher learning with teaching and research facilities that awards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. 2. The buildings and grounds of a university. 3. The students, teaching staff, and governing body of a university, regarded collectively. (Downey, 2000, p. 305)

Downey holds that what is missing in this definition is the 'purpose' of the university and according to Downey it is the university's purpose which many refer to as its' essence. Downey (2000) notes that the work of Karl Jaspers in the work entitled 'The Idea of the University' (1959( wrote as follows:

"The idea becomes concrete in the institution. The extent to which it does this determines the quality of the university. Stripped of its ideal the university loses all value. Yet 'institution' necessarily implies compromises. The idea is never perfectly realized. Because of this a permanent state of tension exists [in] the university between the idea and the shortcomings of the institutional and corporate reality." (Downey, 2000, p.305)

The university is an institution and as such is according to Downey (2000) "a trinity: three simultaneous incarnations in one. It is a corporation, collegium, and community. Each contains elements which are essential to the realization of the idea of the university, but each also contains elements and tendencies which are not readily harmonized." (p.306) of these three or the collegium, community and corporation, Downey (2000) holds that the university is more easily described by the lay individuals as a corporation as the corporation has been in existence in varying formats for centuries.

Corporations are useful and resilient and have managed to survive "countless political and economic upheavals." (Downey, 2000, p. 306) Corporations come in many forms including those of: (1) the privately owned corporation; (2) the publicly owned corporation; (3) the for profit corporation; (4) the not-for-profit corporation; and (5) a combination. Downey writes that Canadian universities are "legal corporate entities of the provincial governments an, like other corporations, have the right to appoint officers, own property, make contracts, sue in the courts, and have perceptual possession." (2000, p.306)

The administrative powers of universities in Canada are reported to be held by "delegation from the civil authority and are contained usually in an act of parliament which, like other statutes, may from time to time be amended. They are also generally bound by the same laws that apply to all corporations in the conduct of business." (Downey, 2000, p.306) the corporation has been an instrument both legally and economically of democracies although corporations are of the nature that have an authoritative hierarchy and the corporate board and its officers possess designated authority. The corporation has instead of colleagues "…officers, employees and clients…" (Downey, 2000, p.360)

Compliance on the part of the university results in the state conferring on the university "as a corporation, and through the mechanism of a lay board of directors, a considerable measure of institutional autonomy in the conduct of its affairs. The body corporate therefore is a shield as well as a shell." (Downey, 2000, p.360) However, the corporate body is furthermore, a vehicle in that it makes provision of an environment that is "orderly…in which the business of the academy may be transacted." (Downey, 2000, p.360) the corporation is the means through which material resources are provided by the state as well as other clients and donors, all of which is needed for learning by college scholars. Stated to be preconditions for the research teaching and other university services are factors such as:

(1) systems of financial accounting;

(2) management of personnel;

(3) plant operation; and (4) resource allocation. (Downey, 2000, p.306)

The structure, finance and governance of the academic corporation is that which determines the efficiency of the deficiency of the cause of scholarship for the university. (Downey, 2000, paraphrased)

III. The Collegium

Downey (2000) writes that many would hold that the 'collegium' is that which forms the 'essence' of the university however, according to Downey, collegium, "while it is essential to, it is not the essence of, the academy." (2000, p.306) the collegium is described as a "complex network of assumptions, traditions, protocols, relations, and structures within the university which permit the professoriate to control and conduct the academic affairs of the institution, determining among other things, who shall be admitted, who shall teach and research, and what might be taught and researched, and what standard shall be set for which rewards." (Downey, 2000, p.306) Therefore, the collegium "is thus the practical realization of academic freedom." (Downey, 2000, p.306)

The idea of 'academic freedom' is examined by Downey (2000) who states that academic freedom and "institutional free speech are sometimes conflated." (p. 307) This however, is erroneous as while they are "sisters, they are not identical twins." (Downey, 2000, p.307) Downey states that academic freedom "has both an individual and collective connotation" in that the professor has a great deal of autonomy in performing duties that are academically related and it is only when this right is possessed that "the pursuit of truth be guaranteed." (Downey, 2000, p.307) Inclusive in academic freedom is the right of the faculty members to confer and to make determinations concerning the academic content and their institutions character through "departmental, faculty and university councils." (Downey, 2000, p. 307)

The principle of authority of the university is stated to be one that is an hieratic authority derived from the belief that the professoriate "constitutes a priesthood when it comes to matters of academic policy and principle." (Downey, 2000, p.307) While views of students, university staff and alumni is welcomes the fact is that only those ordained or the professoriate make decisions for the university. The collegium is a part of the community however, it is not democratic in nature while at the same time "there is ample scope for the practice of democracy…" in that any member of the faculty is free to speak their mind "with impunity, any objection may be raised, any argument made, any decision challenged." (Downey, 2000, p. 307) it is this process that results in the formation of a consensus which Downey states is a requirement for "concerted action" however, the process is stated to be held by those outside of the university to "inhibit unreasonably institutional responsiveness to social change." (2000, p. 307)

IV. The Community

The university is also a community and Downey states in description that "if the vertical axis of this complex organizational graph represents the corporation and the horizontal axis represents the collegium, the community is all of the interstitial space around and between." (p.307) in fact, there is not other institution that has such a broad array of attributes that form the community. For example there is the 'physical infrastructure' comprised by "land, buildings, roads, sewers, communication and transportation systems, and cultural and athletic facilities." (Downey, 2000, p. 307) as well there is the "impressive range of services provided to citizens-personal, professional, social, recreational, and of course educational." (Downey, 2000, p. 307) Last there is the "professional and demographic… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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