What I’m Reading: “The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge”

"Flexner makes two points that seem to me particularly important right now, especially for policy makers thinking about higher education in the United States. One is that it is impossible to predict what research will turn out to be "useful" and therefore it’s foolish to try; some of the most important discoveries in the history of science have been the fruits of work that began with no clear practical application. The second point is equally applicable to the arts, sciences, and humanities: The fact that work in those areas brings "satisfaction to an individual soul bent upon its own purification and elevation is all the justification that they need," and is the most fundamental justification for the processes of instruction and research."

Click here to read more from Brian Rosenberg, President of Macalester College, and the importance of The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge in The Chronicle of Higher Education.


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