Without academic research, our society wouldn’t have as nearly as much knowledge as we currently do. Although many of us overlook the importance of academia, its practitioners – academicians – and the research they undertake on a regular basis, and all things associated with them, higher-level educational programs and their constituents are simply beneficial in more ways than we often realize.
Why is academic research so important?
Academia refers to all things related to school, particularly higher education. Academic research is essentially the tried-and-true, laid-out, step-by-step inquiry into sources of information with the goal of coming to demonstrable conclusions or deriving facts the world wasn’t already aware of.
Why, however, is academic research so important?
For each and all of the following reasons:
- Academic research in and of itself not only helps stockpile wealths of knowledge – it inherently helps people learn more efficiently.
- Tons of businesses – virtually all major businesses, that is – invest in research and development. Businesses – namely pharmaceutical companies – spend many billions of dollars on research. High-quality research is valuable to society and business alike.
- Research is effectively the process of discovering facts. As such, research effectively nips rumors and misinformation in the proverbial bud.
- Digging deep into various topics in a systematic, trained, regular fashion can help people uncover the reasons behind major issues in society.
Both research and academia are important for several other reasons, though the four aforementioned facts are obviously important to individuals, society, government, and businesses. One could think of tens of different reasons as to why research is important.
However, high-quality, unbiased, untethered, unrestrained research can only be published if pure academic freedom is present.
What is academic freedom?
Academic freedom can be loosely defined as the freedom of both teachers and students to teach others, study about, and seek out knowledge without being restricted from doing so by state or federal law, intra-university or intra-school rules, or friction from fellow teachers, administrators, and students.
While irrelevant topics to subjects being taught should obviously be avoided, instructors and students should be able to openly discuss facts, ideas, and knowledge that adheres to topics at hand. In the United States, home to the world’s most fertile field of higher education, universities typically don’t restrict their constituents from engaging in academic endeavors they deem appropriate. However, these schools’ faculty members – not all faculty members, of course, but some unarguably fit the bill – sometimes make the pursuit of academic freedom impossible.
Organizations that uphold academic freedom around the planet
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) shares that higher education institutions “are conducted for the common good and not to further the interest of either the individual teacher or the [whole] institution.” This ideology has been officially supported by some 250 academic associations since its inception. The AAUP tends to complaints regarding deviations from the aforementioned guideline and regulates them.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is made up of two bodies. They meet every two years and discuss current events related to academic freedom in all members of the United Nations – this includes the United States.
Lastly, The Heritage Foundation is yet another prominent body that strives to “formulate and promote conservative public policies”. This organization is largely related to libertarian values. Heritage operates exclusively in the United States.
Countless other bodies exist for the sole purpose of maintaining academic freedom all around planet Earth. Without these organizations’ extensive efforts and near-perfect structures that make such global debates on current policies related to academic freedom, academia wouldn’t be the budding field that it is today.