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Do Contemporary Universities Suffer From a Type of Cancer

Biologists and medical practitioners have proven through extensive scientific research and testing that every living organism renews its cells as it gradually matures. If we accept Proust's metaphor that "a nation is a huge organized accumulation of individuals," then when cultural norms change so does the nation as a whole entity. Based on this assumption, a nation, a country, or generally any type of society, can be characterized by its critics as "sick" if its constituent cells change their previous status with unknown consequences. Under this realm, the crisis contemporary universities have been experiencing must be the outcome of the detected changes in people's values, norms, priorities and ideology. Thus, as the individual cells change their role, critics have denoted a new type of "sickness" in the academic environment, a new type of "cancer," which according to scholars like Miller and Miyoshi, has to be treated adequately before it completely destroys the institutions' primary educational purpose.

Like a human organism is constructed by smaller portions of matter, the contemporary university is an accumulation of students, professors, administrators and many more stakeholders, like corporations. These groups share the grounds of an institution and strive to accomplish various goals. In the past, although different views existed and dissensus was present, the unity of the overall institution was not jeopardized. Unfortunately today, due to the socioeconomic changes fostered by the capitalistic hegemony, contradictory interests have divided the various university groups threatening unity under the broad academic umbrella. But is there something wrong with corporate intervention and why has it managed to create a crisis of this magnitude? Do universities suffer from "cancer"? Especially in counties, like the United States, where the majority of the academic institutions are private, a university is considered as another type of legal entity with similar economic interests as that of a corporation in any industry. Universities, although non-profit institutions, have not only to survive, but also to prosper, as they compete in a fierce environment using as their unique-selling-point the mere knowledge they teach.

As a matter of fact, Universities today have seized to be agents of free knowledge and truth, altering their nature to that of a corporation. This is an undisputable fact, which is the route under this whole crisis. Additionally, as the individual cells of this living organism have realized the impact and the degree of the 21st century's economic changes, they have began to invest to this new role of the contemporary university, seeing it as the adequate preparation field for highly trained consumers and managers. Returning to the original question, whether contemporary universities suffer from "cancer" or not, in my opinion the answer is yes.

This realization is not as provocative as it sounds. Universities have realized their power to foster change, not necessarily with a rebellion nature, the academic institutions of the West are about to step forward and propose a new type of educational mode. This new role of the contemporary university may not be revolutionary, as neither were the interdisciplinary studies at the time that they were originally introduced, but it will be radical and forceful in nature and scale as its primary focus will be the critical judgment of its own role and its principles will be based on the fundamental value of respect and the notion of accepting and requiring diversity. Not because it better sells the new character promoted by the institution, but because through different academic backgrounds and views, true innovation can be generated.

Kadence Buchanan writes articles on many topics including Science, Nutrition, and Education

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