The Epistemic Responsibilities of the University
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Project Duration
September 1 / 2016
- August 31 / 2017
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Rene van Woudenberg
Institution VU University Amsterdam

Where does wisdom lie in the future of universities? What are the epistemic values that the modern university ought to uphold? What responsibilities flow from these values? And how can universities meet these responsibilities in the face of contemporary challenges? Vehement discussions abound about the failings of modern universities to address these responsibilities. Thus, this project aims to fill a necessary gap by scrutinizing and defending such responsibilities, and providing tools for university leaders and policy makers to meet them. Our hypothesis is threefold: 1. The primary values that the university should uphold are epistemic values: those involving truth, knowledge, rational belief, insight, and understanding. 2. A university’s values apply not only to research, but also to teaching and (intellectual) character formation. 3. Universities are responsibility for cultivating humanistic learning. To test these hypotheses, we will engage in empirical, philosophical, and theological research. To this end, we will produce peer-reviewed articles, books, conferences, and media appearances. On both national and international levels, we will target academics, policy makers, students, the general public, and opinion-leaders. Based on empirical research, the project will identify ways to prevent misbehavior and promote responsible behavior in academia. Finally, the policy recommendations that emerge will be discussed in international fora and presented to opinion leaders. As a result of this research, academics, opinion leaders, and the general public will enrich their ideas about the epistemic value of the humanities.

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