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'Defining Values for Research and Technology' to be topic of yearlong analysis

Melissa Mitchell, Arts Editor
(217) 333-5491;


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The image of the university as an ivory tower is rapidly dissolving as increased government and private funding is contributing to a new reality: the university as an engine for growth in a rapidly evolving, knowledge-based world economy.

And while critics argue whether that reality is good or bad, scholars at the University of Illinois will be joined by national and international leaders in education, government and public policy for a yearlong discussion regarding that evolution and its corollary issues.

The discussion, organized by the UI's Center for Advanced Study, will take the form of a lecture-seminar series called "Defining Values for Research and Technology: The University's Changing Role."

"The real world is increasingly impinging upon the academic world," said center director William T. Greenough, a professor of psychology and of cell and structural biology. "As we begin the 21st century, we need to think carefully about the role of the university in a world where the flow of information increasingly bypasses us, where resources must increasingly be earned and where the university's worth is assessed increasingly in economic terms. These are issues that cut across disciplinary boundaries and demand that individuals from diverse areas of the campus come together to discuss and resolve them."

The series itself evolved from earlier discussions among professors affiliated with the UI center. It is being coordinated by law professors Philip McConnaughay and Jay Kesan.

McConnaughay said lecture topics will focus on such questions as "Has this new status [for universities] weakened or strengthened the incentives of research universities to address the basic needs of mankind?"; "What does this mean for the arts and humanities?"; and "Who should own the discoveries of publicly funded universities?"

Two lectures are scheduled this fall. Topics and speakers:

orange dot "Culture, Citizenship and Commodities," presented by Toby Miller, 4 p.m. Oct. 23, third floor, Levis Faculty Center, 919 W. Illinois St., Urbana. Miller is a professor of cinema studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.

orange dot "The Changing Nature of Innovation in the United States," presented by Erich Block, 4 p.m. Nov. 14, auditorium, Beckman Institute, 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana. Block is the former director of the National Science Foundation.

Most of the lectures are scheduled during the spring 2001 semester, in conjunction with a weekly seminar for faculty members and graduate students. Guest speakers will be Donald N. Langenberg, chancellor, University of Maryland system; Michael K. Hansen, Consumer Policy Institute, Consumers Union; M.S. Swaminathan, father of the "Green Revolution" and winner of the World Food Prize; Timothy G. Reeves, director general, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, Mexico City; John H. (Jack) Gibbons, immediate past assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and director, U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy; Rebecca Eisenberg, professor, University of Michigan Law School; Kathie L. Olsen, chief scientist, National Aeronautics and Space Administration; Lord Meghnad Desai, professor and director, Center for the Study of Global Governance, London School of Economics; James Savage, author of "Funding Science in America: Congress, Universities and the Politics of the Academic Pork Barrel"; and Masao Miyoshi, professor of comparative literature, University of California at San Diego.

Dates, times and locations of the talks are to be arranged. For more information about the series and other CAS activities and interdisciplinary initiatives, visit the center's Web site: