Research and the future
This book has been concerned with the fascinating and absorbing process whereby academics in universities investigate and come to know the world and with the contexts in which that process operates. I have argued, following Barnett, that in a world characterized by uncertainty, complexity and plurality, academic research must go beyond existing methods and agendas to develop new forms of research, to expand existing frameworks of knowledge and knowing, and to teach society how to live. All the way through the book we have seen the nature of research presented as a picture of a complex, puzzling, kaleidoscopic landscape. It engages the brightest minds, but puts brakes on their thought, requiring them to define problems and issues within narrow boundaries. It is at one and the same time the source of creativity and of constraint. It is heavily dependent on long-term processes yet demands short-term outcomes. It influences people’s thinking in society in a profound and fundamental way, yet is almost invisible to those same people. Throughout the book, through the discussion of the different issues, it has become apparent that a number of conflicting, incompatible agendas are being pursued.