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University governance and creativity – changing academic freedom

Bleiklie with new article in European Review.

Jacob Bowman - Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio

Professor Ivar Bleiklie has written an article published in the journal European Review, titled “Changing Notions of the Governance–Creativity Nexus”. The article examines the relationship between university governance and creativity in European universities, and how particular conditions in medieval Europe laid the foundation for academic freedom as a condition for creativity.

Creativity is associated with new ideas, methods and discoveries, and is fundamental for research and academic activity. Bleiklie takes as a point of departure, two principles of university governance: The collegial and the hierarchical. The former, implies that academics as a collegial group of peers make decisions on behalf of the institution and that the leadership represents the collegial community. The latter principle means that leaders make decisions on behalf of the institution based on the concerns of public authorities and external stakeholders, and that academic staff as subordinate employees must obey the decisions made by the leadership.

Based on examples from medieval European universities, the modern university as it has developed since the 1800s, and the present form of managerial universities, Bleiklie finds three common conditions - fragmented authority, support and protection by centres of economic and political power, and values emphasizing openness and tolerance for new ideas - that have lent sufficient strength to the collegial principle, enabling it to create and sustain a space for creativity in academia.