Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2008


Universities and Economic Development

Lecturer: Distinguished Professor of Higher Education Roger L. Geiger,
Pennsylvania State University, USA

Main disciplines: Higher Education Policy, Policy and Science Studies

Dates: 28 July - 1 August 2008
Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 30 participants

 

Objectives
Universities throughout the world today face the challenges of market-driven reform, declining government support, global competition, and demands for contributions to economic development. The system of higher education in the United States has in some ways dealt with these challenges longer and more intensely than other systems. This course will offer a thematic, in-depth analysis of ways in which U.S. universities have adapted to these pressures. Their experiences will be offered, not as a guide, but as a laboratory for exploring the causes and consequences of harnessing universities for purposes of economic development. Discussion of these issues in EU countries will be included.

The course will provide a comparative perspective on issues that have become pertinent to university-economy linkages in all advanced countries: selective enhancement of centers of excellence; universities and economic clusters; university patenting and spin-off companies; government policies to enhance the economic contribution of universities. This course will make a unique contribution to higher education studies, policy studies, and science studies.
 


Books needed for the course

Lectures will primarily cover these three books and selected articles comparing conditions in the EU. Supplemental readings are intended to provide a bibliography to guide further reading and research.


COURSE OUTLINE:

Lecture 1: U.S. university system in comparative perspective
American higher education is internationally renowned for its excellent research universities. The entire system of higher education nevertheless has numerous problems and weaknesses. This introductory overview will describe the extreme institutional hierarchy, the heterogeneity of students, weak support for standards, and undergraduate emphasis, as well as the degree structure that has become the model for the Bologna Process.

Core readings:

Supplemental reading:

 


Lecture 2: Market coordination in U.S. higher education
This lecture will address the financial basis of U.S. higher education, particularly its reliance on undergraduate tuition and student financial aid. It will provide an instructive example of the type of tuition/financial aid system that has become common throughout the world. The different financial models of public and private universities will be covered, as well as the issue of university costs. The operation of selectivity in undergraduate admissions and its role in the US system will be examined.

Core readings:

Supplemental reading:


Lecture 3: the US system of academic research
The US system is characterized by external funding of the direct costs of academic research and university responsibility for developing and sustaining most research capacity. The external research economy consists of numerous independent actors, including federal agencies, state governments, industry, and foundations. Research expenditures at universities are a separate budgetary category, but research is both a separate and integral institutional mission.

Core readings:


Lecture 4: Academic research and economic development
US universities have long interacted with industry, most often fruitfully but not without tensions. Since 1980 these relationships have intensified greatly, largely due to the revolution in biotechnology and the Bayh-Dole Act. This lecture examines the motivation of industry to seek academic research and the incentives for universities to provide it. The different forms of university-industry interaction are described, as well as government policies to promote them.
 

Core readings:

Supplemental readings:

 

Lecture 5: Innovation and university research I – the corporate connection
Innovation is invention put to productive use. The largest source of innovation by far is the R&D laboratories of oligopolistic corporations, which chiefly produce incremental innovation to existing product lines. University research plays a complementary role for corporate R&D, but the nature of such inputs and their incidence in terms of economic activity have been difficult to specify.

Core readings:

Supplemental readings:

 



Lecture 6: Innovation and university research II – patents and spinoff companies
Small and especially start-up firms based on university inventions represent a second track of innovation in the economy. They often result from breakthrough inventions that spawn new products or industries. Hence, university patents and spinoff firms represent a distinctive contribution to economic development, and also one that is frequently localized near to universities.

Core readings:

Supplemental Reading:

 


Lecture 7: Government policies for universities and economic development
Governments have sought ways to harness university research for economic development. The Bayh-Dole Act, which sought to encourage university patenting, is a notable example. Other basic approaches vary from ‘upstream’ policies, intended to enhance university research and shape it toward economic relevance, and ‘downstream’ policies, which focus on entrepreneurship and aid for small and start-up companies. The supranational policies of the EU pose a particular challenge.

Core readings:

 



Lecture 8: State policies as laboratories for universities and economic development
Almost all American state governments have active economic development policies. These efforts represent a broad variety of approaches. State governments face the challenge of stimulating endogenous growth and also retaining the benefits within their borders.

Core Readings:

Supplemental readings:


Lecture 9: Technology-transfer/intellectual-property offices within universities
Technology transfer offices in universities represent the interface between university research and commercialization. They have been closely scrutinized in order to learn the secrets of generating large incomes from licensing. Still, there is considerable frustration with their performance on the part of universities and, for different reasons, industry, as they attempt the difficult feat of straddling two cultures.

Core readings:

Supplemental Reading:

 

Lecture 10: Impact on universities; Summary of course

Core Reading:

 

The Lecturer
ROGER L. GEIGER is Distinguished Professor of Education and head of the Higher Education Program, Pennsylvania State University. His study, Knowledge and Money: Research Universities and the Paradox of the Marketplace was published by Stanford University Press (2004). His volumes on American research universities in the 20th century, To Advance Knowledge: the Development of American Research Universities, 1900-1940 and Research and Relevant Knowledge: American Research Universities Since World War II, were published in new editions by Transaction Publishers (2004). In 2000 he published The American College in the Nineteenth Century. He has edited Perspectives on the History of Higher Education since 1993, and is Senior Associate Editor of The American Journal of Education. He is also co-editor of The Future of the American Public Research University, (forthcoming). Geiger has recently studied state policies linking university research and economic development, particularly in nanotechnology. His study with co-author Creso Sá, Tapping the Riches of Science: Universities and the Promise of Economic Growth, will be published by Harvard University Press in late 2008. He teaches courses on the history of American higher education, research universities, and higher education policy.


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