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The ecology of the academy

Tom P. Abeles (Editor of On the Horizon.)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 1 December 2005




The increasing ability to move knowledge across political and geological borders changes the nature and function of a university in much the same way that unique biological niches are changed by the movement, intentional and accidental, of plants, animals and micro‐organisms via improved transportation systems. Knowledge transfer, while often seen as positive, also, as in the bio/physical universe, has negative consequences, including cultural changes, merging or closing institutions with a concomitant loss in intellectual diversity. As with traditional ecologies, little can be done to restore or prevent further cultural integration. How this will affect individual institutions is not clear, nor are the potential response options visible. The purpose of this editorial is to examine this situation.


This editorial points out the changes which are occurring in universities as a consequence of increased mobility of ideas across political and geographically determined borders and across the walls of the Ivory Tower. It raises concerns for the university and seeks to understand what responses might be appropriate.


This editorial finds that the university, today, is radically altered and most faculty need to step outside of the Ivory Tower and see that it has, indeed, changed.


The editorial speaks to administrators and policy analysts who must make decisions on the potential survival and direction of universities in an increasingly global society.



Abeles, T.P. (2005), "The ecology of the academy", On the Horizon, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 195-198.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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