We stand at an historic juncture in the history of science. The long era of exponential expansion ended decades ago, but we have not yet reconciled ourselves to that fact. The present social structure of science, by which I mean institutions, education, funding, publications and so on all evolved during the period of exponential expansion, before The Big Crunch. They are not suited to the unknown future we face. Today's scientific leaders, in the universities, government, industry and the scientific societies are mostly people who came of age during the golden era, 1950 - 1970. I am myself part of that generation. We think those were normal times and expect them to return. But we are wrong. Nothing like it will ever happen again. It is by no means certain that science will even survive, much less flourish, in the difficult times we face. Before it can survive, those of us who have gained so much from the era of scientific elites and scientific illiterates must learn to face reality, and admit that those days are gone forever.
I’ll start with a really basic fact. Over 80 percent of my college’s budget is labor, and instruction is the single largest part of that. The college’s operating income -- that is, the money that we can use to pay for salaries and ongoing expenses -- comes from exactly two sources: tuition and the state. If you push through a drastic increase in labor costs, how, exactly, do you propose to pay for it?
A college could be situated in prime Boston real estate, pay the city close to nothing, and still receive municipal services. In Boston, Emerson College pays the city $139,000 annually, while its property is worth roughly $178 million. Meanwhile, with property valued at $1.3 billion, Northeastern University pays only $31,000 per year for city services used. [source]
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