Preserving Knowledge Mitchell Stevens at Aalto University School of Science and Technology, 26 May 2010 [email_address]
Stevens, Armstrong, Arum, “Sieve,  Incubator, Temple, Hub:  Recent  Empirical and Theoretical Advances  in the Sociology o...
Higher education is… <ul><li>… a  sieve  for the stratification and differentiation of populations </li></ul><ul><li>… an ...
But is it not also… <ul><li>… a  factory  for the production of knowledge? </li></ul><ul><li>… a  vault  for its preservat...
Why does this matter? <ul><li>Higher education is the preeminent organizational expression of modern faith in reason and p...
What is “knowledge”? <ul><li>My working definition:  </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge =  Authoritative accounts </li></ul><ul><...
Four aspects of knowledge preservation <ul><li>Archival </li></ul><ul><li>Instructional </li></ul><ul><li>Network </li></u...
ARCHIVAL <ul><li>Higher education as repository of embodied knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>“ The library” and it various mani...
INSTRUCTIONAL <ul><li>Higher education as a site of learning and training </li></ul><ul><li>“ The classroom” in its variou...
NETWORK <ul><li>Higher education as a distributed knowledge order  (Hutchins 1996; Heimer 1985) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The co...
STATUS <ul><li>Higher education as a prestige system </li></ul><ul><li>“ The [school name] brand” </li></ul><ul><li>Facult...
Four aspects of knowledge preservation <ul><li>Archival </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the library”; knowledge  as artifact </li>...
IMPLICATIONS <ul><li>Further explains the anarchic – even schizophrenic – character of university life </li></ul><ul><li>H...
Preserving Knowledge Mitchell Stevens [email_address]
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Stevens preserving knowledge

  1. 1. Preserving Knowledge Mitchell Stevens at Aalto University School of Science and Technology, 26 May 2010 [email_address]
  2. 2. Stevens, Armstrong, Arum, “Sieve, Incubator, Temple, Hub: Recent Empirical and Theoretical Advances in the Sociology of Higher Education,” Annual Review of Sociology 34(2008):127-51.
  3. 3. Higher education is… <ul><li>… a sieve for the stratification and differentiation of populations </li></ul><ul><li>… an incubator that changes individuals, relationships, and social networks </li></ul><ul><li>… a temple for the sacralization of knowledge and secular inquiry </li></ul><ul><li>… a hub: Organizational system through which major institutional sectors intersect </li></ul>
  4. 4. But is it not also… <ul><li>… a factory for the production of knowledge? </li></ul><ul><li>… a vault for its preservation? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Why does this matter? <ul><li>Higher education is the preeminent organizational expression of modern faith in reason and progress, i.e., it is intrinsically meaningful ( Meyer et al. 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>It is costly </li></ul><ul><li>It is changing </li></ul><ul><li>It faces new competitors </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge preservation is essential to organizational flourishing generally (Agote 1999; Winter 1987) </li></ul>
  6. 6. What is “knowledge”? <ul><li>My working definition: </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge = Authoritative accounts </li></ul><ul><li>Accounts: Meaningfully integrated information (narrative, math, practice…) </li></ul><ul><li>Authoritative: Legitimate and influential (Starr 1982) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Four aspects of knowledge preservation <ul><li>Archival </li></ul><ul><li>Instructional </li></ul><ul><li>Network </li></ul><ul><li>Status </li></ul>
  8. 8. ARCHIVAL <ul><li>Higher education as repository of embodied knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>“ The library” and it various manifestations </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty – as knowledge specimens </li></ul><ul><li>The preservation of knowledge as artifacts </li></ul>
  9. 9. INSTRUCTIONAL <ul><li>Higher education as a site of learning and training </li></ul><ul><li>“ The classroom” in its various manifestations, but also the research team, the apprenticeship… </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty – as teachers/mentors </li></ul><ul><li>The preservation of knowledge in practice, across generations </li></ul>
  10. 10. NETWORK <ul><li>Higher education as a distributed knowledge order (Hutchins 1996; Heimer 1985) </li></ul><ul><li>“ The collegium” of approximately equally empowered scholars who consult, confer, collaborate, and defer </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty – as components of a messy system </li></ul><ul><li>The preservation of knowledge in discussion </li></ul>
  11. 11. STATUS <ul><li>Higher education as a prestige system </li></ul><ul><li>“ The [school name] brand” </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty, students, graduates as arbiters, defenders, promulgators of the brand </li></ul><ul><li>The preservation of knowledge as a cartel on authoritative legitimacy </li></ul>
  12. 12. Four aspects of knowledge preservation <ul><li>Archival </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the library”; knowledge as artifact </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Instructional </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the classroom”; knowledge in practice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Network </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the collegium”; knowledge in discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Status </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ the brand”; knowledge as cartel </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. IMPLICATIONS <ul><li>Further explains the anarchic – even schizophrenic – character of university life </li></ul><ul><li>Helps specify key axes of competition to the university by other sectors: competition high on archival and instructional aspects, lower on network and status aspects </li></ul><ul><li>Suggests that knowledge production may be epiphenomenal – a symptom of successful knowledge preservation </li></ul>
  14. 14. Preserving Knowledge Mitchell Stevens [email_address]

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