The word comes from the akademeia just outside ancient Athens, where the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning. The sacred space, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom, Athena, had formerly been an olive grove, hence the expression "the groves of Academe".
By extension Academia has come to connote the cultural accumulation of knowledge, its development and transmission across generations and its practitioners and transmitters. In the seventeenth century, English and French religious scholars popularized the term to describe certain types of institutions of higher learning. The English adopted the form academy while the French adopted the forms acadème and académie.
An academic is a person who works as a researcher (and usually teacher) at a university or similar institution in post-secondary (or tertiary) education. He or she is nearly always an advanced degree holder who does research. In the United States, the term academic is approximately synonymous with that of the job title professor although in recent decades a growing number of institutions are also including academic or professional librarians in the category of "academic staff." In the United Kingdom, various titles are used, typically fellow, lecturer, reader, and professor (see also academic rank), though the loose term don is often popularly substituted. The term scholar is sometimes used with equivalent meaning to that of "academic" and describes in general those who attain mastery in a research discipline. It has wider application, with it also being used to describe those whose occupation was research prior to mass organized higher education.
Academic administrators are not typically included in this use of the term academic, although many administrators hold advanced degrees and pursue scholarly research and writing while also tending to their administrative duties.
Some sociologists have divided, but not limited, academia according to four basic historical types: ancient academia, early academia, academic societies, and the modern university. There are at least two models of academia: a European model developed since ancient times, as well as an American model developed by Benjamin Franklin in the mid-eighteenth century and Thomas Jefferson in the early nineteenth century. In the United States, academia tends to lean politically Left with 72 percent of faculty members identifying as liberal (87 percent at elite institutions).
Academia is usually conceived of as divided into disciplines or fields of study. These have their roots in the subjects of the ancient trivium and quadrivium, which provided the model for scholastic thought in the first universities in medieval Europe.
The disciplines have been much revised, and many new disciplines have formed since medieval times; in general, academic fields have probably become more and more specialized since the Enlightenment, dividing their research into smaller and smaller areas. Because of this, interdisciplinary research is often prized in today's academy, though it can also be made difficult by practical matters of administration and funding. In fact, many new fields of study have initially been conceived as interdisciplinary, and later become specialized disciplines in their own right (cognitive science is one recent example). In short, there is an ongoing historical process behind the internal differentiation of the academy.
Most academic institutions reflect the divide of the disciplines in their administrative structure, being divided internally into departments or programs in various fields of study. Each department is typically administered and funded separately by the academic institution, though there may be some overlap and faculty members, research and administrative staff may in some cases be shared among departments. In addition, academic institutions generally have an overall administrative structure (usually including a president and several deans) which is controlled by no single department, discipline, or field of thought. Also, the tenure system, a major component of academic employment and research, serves to ensure that academia is relatively protected from political and financial pressures on thought.
The degree awarded for completed study is the primary academic qualification. Typically these are, in order of completion, associate's degree, bachelor's degree (awarded for completion of undergraduate study), master's degree, and doctorate (awarded after graduate or postgraduate study). These are only currently being standardized in Europe as part of the Bologna process, as many different degrees and standards of time to reach each are currently awarded in different countries in Europe. In most fields the majority of academic researchers and teachers have doctorates or other terminal degrees, though in some professional and creative fields it is common for scholars and teachers to have only master's degrees.
Rather than seeing the relationship between practice and theory as a dichotomy, there is a growing body of practice research academics across a number of disciplines who use practice as part of their research methodology. For example the practice-based research network (PBRN) within clinical medical research. Within arts and humanities departments, particularly in the UK, there are ongoing debates about how to define this emerging research phenomenon, and there are a variety of contested models of practice research (practice-as-research, practice-based and practice through research), see for example screen media practice research.
Academia takes its name from the Academy, a sanctuary outside the city walls of ancient Athens. It was dedicated to the legendary hero Akademos and contained several olive groves, a gymnasium and an area suited for intimate gatherings. In these gardens, largely planted and enhanced with statuary by its previous owner Cimon, the philosopher Plato conversed with followers who believed Plato would enlighten them. These informal sessions came to be known as the Academy. Plato later further developed his sessions into a method of teaching philosophy and in 387 BC, established what is known today as the Old Academy.
Plato's colleagues and pupils developed spin-offs of his method. Arcesilaus, a Greek student of Plato established the Middle Academy. Carneades, another student, established the New Academy. In 335 BC, Aristotle refined the method with his own theories and established the Lyceum in another gymnasium.
In the same way that a carpenter would attain the status of master carpenter when fully qualified by his guild, a teacher would become a master when he had been licensed by his profession, the teaching guild.
Academia as a modern institution began to take shape in the Middle Ages (AD 350 to 1450). At this time, the Roman Empire had crumbled and new regimes were beginning to take shape throughout Western Europe. Europe had just come out of the Dark Ages, a period of mass illiteracy and loss of information. The only repositories of ancient knowledge were the Roman Catholic monasteries with hermits, monks and priests compiling all the world's knowledge into elaborate hand written books. The earliest precursors of the colleges and universities were just being developed at these monasteries in order to redistribute the knowledge they had saved through the Dark Ages.
One had to go to a monastery to learn about ancient Greece and Rome and the wealth of information created in those societies. Being schooled at a monastery meant academia was effectively restricted to men who wanted to become monks and priests. But by the 11th century, some Roman Catholic church leaders began a revolutionary campaign to proliferate the knowledge they had outside their groves of academe and into the greater society of early Europe. They believed that Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Homer, Sophocles and the others belonged to the people and not just to the religious. The monks and priests moved out of the monasteries and went to the city cathedrals where they opened the first schools dedicated to advanced study.
Most notable of these schools were in Bologna, Paris, Oxford and Cambridge, though others were opened throughout Europe. Studying at these schools, now called universities, meant sitting through a method of education called the lecture. In a lecture, the master read aloud from manuscripts written by monks and priests while students sat at their pews reading along from their own handwritten copies of the massive amounts of texts. Only the master could determine if a student had achieved enough knowledge to graduate and organize lectures of their own. By the end of the 13th century, there were over 80 universities in Europe.
The conceptual scheme established by Martianus Capella, given Christian readings and interpretations, remained largely in effect in western Academia, even after the new scholasticism of the School of Chartres and the encyclopedic work of Thomas Aquinas, until the humanism of the 15th and 16th centuries opened new studies of arts and sciences.
Academic societies or learned societies began as groups of academics who worked together or presented their work to each other. These informal groups later became organized and in many cases state-approved. Membership was restricted, usually requiring approval of the current members and often total membership was limited to a specific number. The Royal Society founded in 1660 was the first such academy. The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was begun in 1780 by many of the same people prominent in the American Revolution. Academic societies served both as a forum to present and publish academic work, the role now served by academic publishing, and as a means to sponsor research and support academics, a role they still serve. Membership in academic societies is still a matter of prestige in modern academia.
In 1819, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia and developed the standards used today in organizing colleges and universities across the globe. The curriculum was taken from the traditional liberal arts, classical humanism and the values introduced with the Protestant Reformation. Jefferson offered his students something new: the freedom to chart their own courses of study rather than mandate a fixed curriculum for all students. Religious colleges and universities followed suit.
The Academy movement in the U.S. in the early 19th century arose from a public sense that education in the classic disciplines needed to be extended into the new territories and states that were being formed in the Old Northwest, in western New York State, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois. Dozens of academies were founded in the area, supported by private donations.
During the Age of Enlightenment in 18th-century Europe, the academy started to change in Europe. In the beginning of the 19th century Wilhelm von Humboldt not only published his philosophical paper On the Limits of State Action, but also directed the educational system in Prussia for a short time. He introduced an academic system that was much more accessible to the lower classes. Humboldt's Ideal was an education based on individuality, creativity, wholeness, and versatility. Many continental European universities are still rooted in these ideas (or at least pay lip-service to them). They are, however, in contradiction to today's massive trend of specialization in academia.
Now, by contrast, despite rising tuition rates and growing university revenues (especially in the U.S.) well-paid professorial positions are rarer, replaced with poorly paid adjunct positions and graduate-student labor. People with doctorates in the sciences, and to a lesser extent mathematics, often find jobs outside of academia (or use part-time work in industry to supplement their incomes), but a Ph.D. in the humanities and many social sciences prepares the student primarily for academic employment. However, in recent years a large proportion of such Ph.D.'s—ranging from 30 percent to 60 percent—have been unable to obtain tenure-track jobs. They must choose between adjunct positions, which are poorly paid and lack job security; teaching jobs in community colleges or in high schools, where little research is done; the non-academic job market, where they will tend to be overqualified; or some other course of study, such as law or business.
Indeed, with academic institutions producing Ph.D.s in greater numbers than the number of tenure-track professorial positions they intend to create, there is little question that administrators are cognizant of the economic effects of this arrangement. The sociologist Stanley Aronowitz wrote: "Basking in the plenitude of qualified and credentialed instructors, many university administrators see the time when they can once again make tenure a rare privilege, awarded only to the most faithful and to those whose services are in great demand
Most people who are knowledgeable of the academic job market advise prospective graduate students not to attend graduate school if they must pay for it; graduate students who are admitted without tuition remission and a reasonable stipend are forced to incur large debts that they will be unlikely to repay quickly. In addition, most people recommend that students obtain full and accurate information about the placement record of the programs they are considering. At some programs, most Ph.D.s get multiple tenure-track offers, whereas at others few obtain any; such information is clearly very useful in deciding what to do with the next 5–7 years of one's life.
Some believe that, as a number of Baby Boomer professors retire, the academic job market will rebound. However, others predict that this will not result in an appreciable growth of tenure-track positions, as universities will merely fill their needs with low-paid adjunct positions. Aronowitz ascribed this problem to the economic restructuring of academia as a whole:
The effects of a growing pool of unemployed, underemployed, and undesirably employed Ph.D.s on the Western countries' economies as a whole is undetermined.
The Royal Society was steadfast in its unpopular belief that science could only move forward through a transparent and open exchange of ideas backed by experimental evidence. Many of the experiments were ones that we would not recognize as scientific today — nor were the questions they answered. For example, when the Duke of Buckingham was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society on June 5, 1661, he presented the Society with a vial of powdered "unicorn horn". It was a well-accepted 'fact' that a circle of unicorn's horn would act as an invisible cage for any spider. Robert Hooke, the chief experimenter of the Royal Society, emptied the Duke's vial into a circle on a table and dropped a spider in the centre of the circle. The spider promptly walked out of the circle and off the table. In its day, this was cutting-edge research.
Andrew Odlyzko, an academician with a large number of published research papers, has argued that research journals will evolve into something akin to Internet forums over the coming decade, by extending the interactivity of current Internet preprints. This change may open them up to a wider range of ideas, some more developed than others. Whether this will be a positive evolution remains to be seen. Some claim that forums, like markets, tend to thrive or fail based on their ability to attract talent. Some believe that highly restrictive and tightly monitored forums may be the least likely to thrive.
Gowns have been associated with academia since the birth of the university in the 1300s and 1400s, perhaps because most early scholars were priests or church officials. Over time, the gowns worn by degree-holders have become standardized to some extent, although traditions in individual countries and even institutions have established a diverse range of gown styles, and some have ended the custom entirely, even for graduation ceremonies.
At some universities, such as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, undergraduates may be required to wear gowns on formal occasions and on graduation. Undergraduate gowns are usually a shortened version of a bachelor's gown. At other universities, for example, outside the UK or U.S., the custom is entirely absent. Students at the University of Trinity College at the University of Toronto wear gowns to formal dinner, debates, to student government, and to many other places.
In general, in the U.S. and UK recipients of a bachelor's degree are entitled to wear a simple full-length robe without adornment and a mortarboard cap with a tassel. In addition, holders of a bachelor's degree may be entitled to wear a ceremonial hood at some schools. In the U.S., bachelor's hoods are rarely seen. Bachelor's hoods are generally smaller versions of those worn by recipients master's and doctoral degrees.
Recipients of a master's degree in the U.S. or UK wear a similar cap and gown but closed sleeves with slits, and usually receive a ceremonial hood that hangs down the back of the gown. In the U.S. the hood is traditionally edged with a silk or velvet strip displaying the disciplinary color, and is lined with the university's colors.
According to The American Council on Education “six-year specialist degrees (Ed.S., etc.) and other degrees that are intermediate between the master's and the doctor's degree may have hoods specially designed (1) intermediate in length between the master's and doctor's hood, (2) with a four-inch velvet border (also intermediate between the widths of the borders of master's and doctor's hoods), and (3) with color distributed in the usual fashion and according to the usual rules. Cap tassels should be uniformly black.”
Recipients of a doctoral degree tend to have the most elaborate academic dress, and hence there is the greatest diversity at this level. In the U.S., doctoral gowns are similar to the gowns worn by master's graduates, with the addition of velvet stripes across the sleeves and running down the front of the gown which may be tinted with the disciplinary color for the degree received. Holders of a doctoral degree may be entitled or obliged to wear scarlet (a special gown in scarlet) on high days and special occasions. While some doctoral graduates wear the mortarboard cap traditional to the lower degree levels, most wear a cap or Tudor bonnet that resembles a tam o'shanter, from which a colored tassel is suspended.
In modern times in the U.S. and UK, gowns are normally only worn at graduation ceremonies, although some colleges still demand the wearing of academic dress on formal occasions (official banquets and other similar affairs). In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was more common to see the dress worn in the classroom, a practice which has now all but disappeared. Two notable exceptions are Oxford and Sewanee, where students are required to wear formal academic dress in the examination room.
Industry and academia: Bill MacDonald of DuPont Teijin Films examines the gap between industry and academia and suggests how to bridge it. (Comment).(Brief Article)(Column)
Apr 15, 2002; There have been rapid changes to the structure of the chemical industry over the past five years. Many new names have appeared....