Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Is it necessary for research to have a social and economic impact?

Mary Beard, Professor of Classics at Cambridge who has a blog at the Times website, asks for commentary on the HEFCE Consultation exercise about research excellence, which, it is argued, is purely based on social and economic impact. Beard argues against this, and asks for public commentary in support of her position. As social scientists, some might say we should support her--that the arts and humanities still play a central and significant role in the development of knowledge, and should surely be funded to the same extent that our research should. But others may disagree. Thoughts?

1 comment:

Jake Phillips said...

I'm not against the idea of research having to have some kind of 'impact' but I think that the way impact is measured is crucial to this. As Prof Beard highlights, impact can come from unexpected sources which might not always be obvious in advance. The problem with Beard's argument is that she actually says that research into the arts (in this case, Greek tragedy) does have social and economic benefits and is therefore a good thing and so implicates herself in the "impact equals good" camp.

I believe in the idea of arts for art's sake, education for education's sake and I also believe in research for curiosity's sake (although I find it hard to seperate any of these endeavours from politics) and to think that arts and humanities should lose out on funding because really annoys me- and that's not only because my partner is a English PhD candidate!

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