Gillian Evans examines how far the traditional purposes of the universities are still relevant to their encounters with the changed priorities of the modern world. Increasingly, it seems, academia is expected to engage with the "real world". For instance, university teachers are being asked to cultivate the entrepreneurial spirit in their students; researchers are more likely now to be doing the kind of research that has practical applications and is funded by commercial sponsors; and university administrators have been encouraged to adopt management models from private business. Against this background, Evans explores the core values of universities, the pressure on them from government policies, the threat to the integrity and independence of their research from their partnerships with large corporations, and the problems they are having in running themselves efficiently whilst maintaining their identity. It probes at the crucial question of what should be the nature of the relationship between universities and their wider society.
G R Evans is a historian and theologian at the University of Cambridge. She has an international reputation in the fields of medieval intellectual history and modern ecumenical theology, and has published extensively in these fields. Her leadership of campaigns to reform procedures at the University of Cambridge and her experience as an officer of the Council for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards make her well-placed to write Academics and the Real World.