Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

In the Spirit: There's More to Research Than Money

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

In the Spirit: There's More to Research Than Money

Article excerpt

EU should place spiritual values above potential profit in funding considerations, Chris Parr hears.

Universities in the European Research Area have lost touch with the spiritual ideals of the European Union's founding fathers and should aim to restore such values to their scientific research, it has been claimed.

According to academics leading the Restoring Spiritual Values to European Science research project, policymakers in the ERA focus more on the potential for financial gain than on what research might achieve more widely. They want European science funding programmes to consider "spiritual" values when allocating grants.

John Wood, the principal investigator and former chief executive of the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils, said that the values of EU architects such as France's Robert Schuman and Germany's Konrad Adenauer, with their "Christian Democratic roots", "are not being reflected today in how science is undertaken".

"Most of the countries, their funding, and the way research is being pushed is very much towards economic growth rather than sustainability, quality of life and other things," said Professor Wood, who is secretary general of the Association of Commonwealth Universities. "I would like people to start asking what they're in it for rather than responding to external forces."

Although the project was "not pushing a Christian agenda", Professor Wood said he would like to see more Christian values in research. "We come from that (Christian) angle because we come from a Judaeo-Christian country, so that's inevitable."

The research, which is funded by the University of Cambridge's Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, hopes to influence policy by presenting evidence on people's attitudes to how science funding is allocated. …

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