January 24, 2016

Research and the Real World

University scientists have shown that they’re good at turning research into products. But are those scientists, and their funders, making the same effort to turn their work into solutions for society's problems?

Paul Basken, a senior reporter at The Chronicle, examines that question in a special package. New reports will appear every day this week. Chronicle subscribers can read the whole package now, in a downloadable booklet that's designed to be printed and shared.

 

As a nation, we’re getting good at turning professors’ work into marketable products. But is that enough for some of our society’s biggest problems?

Here's a sampling of experts' suggestions of what universities, governments, journals, and private funders of research could do to ensure that they're making the greatest possible efforts toward solving society’s most pressing issues.

Companies that exploit personal information could offer a model for researchers who seek to turn their work into meaningful policy. But many scholars are wary.

They’ve studied it and written about it, but some experts say scientists haven’t done enough to shape public opinion on what may be the most important issue of our time.

Government structures for financing science may make sense for reasons of professional development, but they're not necessarily built for optimal problem-solving. New ideas might change that.

A new wave of campus programs encourages undergraduates to think broadly, aggressively, and across disciplines about how they can help with real-world challenges.

How can scientists turn their work into solutions for societal problems? The nine articles collected here can serve as a starting point for discussion about what the true mission of university research should be.