Ist akademische Freiheit ihren Preis wert?

WARWICK, GB – Kann man sich in Zeiten einer Wirtschaftskrise akademische Freiheit leisten? So lautete das Thema, das bei der jährlich stattfindenden Unterzeichnung der Magna Charta Universitatum an der Mutter der Universitäten, der Universität von Bologna, Anfang des Jahres zur Diskussion stand.

Die Magna Charta ist die weltweit sichtbarste Grundsatzerklärung über die Förderung und den Schutz der Autonomie der Universitäten. In den vergangenen zwanzig Jahren ist sie von beinahe 700 Hochschulen auf allen Kontinenten unterzeichnet worden. Dennoch bleibt das quälende Gefühl zurück, dass Universitäten in einer Zeit, in der einfache Leute darum kämpfen über die Runden zu kommen, Luxus sind.

Grund zur Besorgnis hat es schon immer gegeben. In der Vergangenheit sind Universitäten in Zeiten des Überflusses gegründet worden, normalerweise, um Menschen zu ermutigen über ihr unmittelbares Überleben hinaus über erbaulichere geistige oder nationale Ziele nachzudenken. Vor fast 50 Jahren hat ein statistisch interessierter Wissenschaftshistoriker, Derek de Solla Price, beobachtet, dass der beste Indikator für die Produktion der akademischen Forschung der Pro-Kopf-Energieverbrauch einer Nation ist: beide wachsen zusammen.

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