On the Relationship between Scholarship and Democracy

  • Mike Robinson
Keywords: Arctic Institute of North America, Education, Education policy, Government, Research, Serials, Universities, Arctic regions


Over the 50 years of Arctic's publication, a series of dedicated editors and countless reviewers have applied their skills in the quest for clarity of thought, expression and concept in the best interests of an interdisciplinary readership. This tradition has fostered scholarly citizenship, in line with John Ralston Saul's contemporary appeal for academics (1995) to avoid the language of corporatist elites, which is typically private, exclusionary and supportive of hierarchies of knowledge. For Saul, a philosopher whose language is unintelligible to an archaeologist is as corporatist in manner and form as the mining company president who relies on euphemism and double-speak to explain the lack of gold showings in a core sample. One must ask: Just who is served when shareholders cannot understand explanations of basic geology, or when one academic discipline cannot comprehend the research of another? Who do universities persist in encouraging departmental and faculty hierarchies that promote corporatism rather than citizenship, which contribute to obfuscation rather than clarity? ... Should we be surprised that horizontal networks of civil society enthusiasts, rather than vertical patron-client relationships of exploitation and dependence, are key to establishing peace, order, and good government? Putnam's lesson for AINA is that a community of collaborative northern scholars, organized around interdisciplinary research problems focused on a geographic area, has a lot in common with Italian soccer players, choristers, and co-op members. We are all playing the same game, singing the same song, and reinvesting the same patronage dividends in a process called democracy.