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Academic Duty

Academic Duty

Donald Kennedy

ISBN 9780674002234

Publication date: 03/15/1999

The university today is under attack from all sides. Parents and students resent the escalating costs of education and wonder where the money is being spent. Aspiring scholars feel betrayed by an institution that prepares them for nonexistent jobs. Critics on the right condemn the teachers who neglect "the canon" while critics on the left condemn the creeping corporatism on campus. Politicians seek greater control over the conduct of research and add new conditions to the use of government funds. Worst of all, the academics are increasingly uneasy in an environment that fosters competition, discourages cooperation, and has made "publish or perish" a condition of survival.

Donald Kennedy, the former president of Stanford University and currently a member of its faculty, has been at the front lines of the issues confounding the academy today. In this important new book, he brings his experience and concern to bear on the present state of the university. He examines teaching, graduate training, research, and their ethical context in the research university. Aware of the numerous pressures that academics face, from the pursuit of open inquiry in the midst of culture wars, to confusion and controversy over the ownership of ideas, to the scramble for declining research funds and facilities, he explores the whys and wherefores of academic misconduct, be it scholarly, financial, or personal.

Kennedy suggests that meaningful reform cannot take place until more rigorous standards of academic responsibility--to students, the university, and the public--are embraced by both faculty and the administration. With vision and compassion, he offers an important antidote to recent attacks from without that decry the university and the professoriate, and calls upon the college community to counter those attacks by looking within and fulfilling its duties.


  • For anyone interested in the future of higher education in this country, Donald Kennedy's important new book, Academic Duty, is the place to start...Much has been written about academic freedom, little about academic responsibility. Kennedy's account of the multiple demands on scholars to publish, to teach well, to mentor, to serve the university, to reach beyond the walls of academe and to risk change captures both the pleasures and pitfalls awaiting those entering the profession. His analysis also dispels many of the myths about what professors do that have undermined popular confidence in the academic world...As Kennedy makes clear, the future of research universities is bound up in their tangled partnership with both government and industry; how universities will define their role in this partnership remains to be seen.

    —James Shapiro, New York Times Book Review


  • Donald Kennedy is President Emeritus and Bing Professor of Environmental Science, Emeritus, at Stanford University.

Book Details

  • 320 pages
  • 0-3/4 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press