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13.4C: Academic Skills and Knowledge

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    8364
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    In academia, an individual’s educational level and other academic experience can be used to gain a place in society.

     

    LEARNING OBJECTIVES

     

    Examine the implications of academia in society, especially in terms of structure, qualifications and academic capital

     

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    Key Points

     

    • Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research.
    • Academia is usually conceived of as divided into disciplines or fields of study.
    • The degree awarded for completed study is the primary academic qualification. Typically these are, in order of accomplishment, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate.
    • In the United States, “professors” commonly occupy any of several positions in academia, typically the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, or full professor.
    • Academic capital is a term used by sociologists to represent how an individual’s amount of education and other academic experience can be used to gain a place in society.

     

    Key Terms

     

    • Academic Capital: A term referring to how an individual’s amount of education and other academic experience can be used to gain a more esteemed place in society.
    • academia: The scientific and cultural community engaged in higher education and research, taken as a whole.

    Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research. In Western Europe, universities were founded in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the European institution of Academia took shape. Monks and priests moved out of monasteries to cathedral cities and other towns where they opened the first schools dedicated to advanced study. In the United States, the term “academic” is approximately synonymous with that of the job title professor, although in recent decades a growing number of institutions include librarians in the category of “academic staff. ”

     

    Structure

     

    Academia is usually conceived of as divided into disciplines or fields of study. The disciplines have been much revised, and many new disciplines have become more specialized, researching smaller and smaller areas. Because of this, interdisciplinary research is often prized in today’s academy, though it can also be made difficult both by practical matters of administration and funding and by differing research methods of different disciplines. In fact, many new fields of study have initially been conceived as interdisciplinary, and later become specialized disciplines in their own right. On recent example is cognitive science.

     

    Qualifications

     

    The degree awarded for completed study is the primary academic qualification. Typically, these are, in order of completion, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate. In the United States, “professors” commonly occupy any of several positions in academia, typically the ranks of assistant professor, associate professor, or full professor. Research and education are among the main tasks of professors with the time spent in research or teaching depending strongly on the type of institution. Publication of articles in conferences, journals, and books is essential to occupational advancement. As of August 2007, teaching in tertiary educational institutions is one of the fastest growing occupations, topping the U.S. Department of Labor’s list of “above average wages and high projected growth occupations,” with a projected increase of 524,000 positions between 2004 and 2014.

     

    Academic Capital

     

    “Academic capital” is a term used by sociologists to represent how an individual’s amount of education and other academic experience can be used to gain a place in society. The term originated in 1979 when Pierre Bourdieu (1930–2002), a prominent French sociologist, used the term in his book, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgment of Taste. The book attempts to show how individuals are not defined by social class, but instead by their “social space,” which is dependent on each type of capital the individual has.

    Much like other forms of capital, social capital, economic capital, and cultural capital, academic capital doesn’t depend on one sole factor but instead is made up of many different factors, including the individual’s academic transmission from his/her family, status of the academic institutions attended, and publications produced by the individual. Since Bourdieu first coined the term, it has been used widely to discuss many of the implications involved with schooling and the rise of individuals in academia. Numerous studies have been done involving the idea of academic capital, and scholars have disagreed on what counts as academic capital.

    Bourdieu’s definition of the term is applicable to any individual. However, it seems that most references to academic capital point solely to professional teachers and researchers within higher education. For example, in 2009, Michael Burawoy defined academic capital as being estimated from an individual’s curriculum vitae, but admitted that it was subjective because some fields of study seem to value certain academic qualities more than others—research.

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    Oxford University: Academia is the community of students and scholars engaged in higher education and research