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Hippocratic Oaths for Academe

August 5, 2010

An expert on university management has proposed two "Hippocratic oaths" for higher education – one for faculty members and one for managers – which he says could help ­nego­tia­tions when conflict ­arises.

In a paper in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and ­Manage­ment, Geoff Sharrock, program director of the master of tertiary education management at the University of Melbourne, says that management does not always "mesh well" with scholarly professionalism, and there can be "intractable conflicts" between those who identify with one or the other domain.

Sharrock sets down two oaths that, he says, suggest each role holds common values, albeit ones that are enacted differently.

When conflict arises, the codes would help to make it clear that "many such differences arise from legitimately different values and purposes."

Recognizing the agendas and ­priori­ties of both roles in a university "offers scope for good-faith negotiation of conflicts between university scholars and managers."

The oath for scholars calls on them to "support open, independent and systematic inquiry, high standards of learning, and the ­creative and responsible uses of knowledge."

The "10 commandments" are: "dare to know"; teach well; be ­public-spirited; be responsible; be transparent; be collegial; be respect­ful (“show courtesy to those who, in good faith, misunderstand or disagree”); be open-minded; be impartial; and be scrupulous (“declare any conflict of interest that may bias my scholarly judgment”).

Meanwhile, managers are urged to promise to: “build my enterprise’s capacity to support academic projects by strengthening its resources, relationships and reputation.”

Like scholars, their commandments include being: responsible (“make sure decisions are made with due consideration of their costs, risks and benefits to all those affected”); transparent; public-spirited; open-minded; and scrupulous (“refrain from placing my private interests above the corporate interests of my enterprise, the integrity of its mission or strategy, or the rights of its constituencies”).

The other commandments for managers are: “dare to strategize”; manage well; build trust; be compliant; and be entrepreneurial.

The two oaths offer guidance for those taking up roles in either ­domain, or for those with “a foot in both camps," Sharrock says.

Here are the full oaths for each group:

For Professors

To the best of my ability I will support open, independent and systematic inquiry, high standards of learning, and the creative and responsible uses of knowledge. In doing so I will:

1. Dare to know: seek to establish truth and knowledge, and to contest false claims.

2. Teach well: teach in light of accepted standards, student needs and current research.

3. Be public-spirited: engage in public projects and debates where I have needed expertise.

4. Be responsible: take care not to misinform, or let others be misled by my claims.

5. Be transparent: disclose the evidence, methods and contributions relied on in my work.

6. Be collegial: share my learning with scholars and students, and seek to learn from them.

7. Be respectful: show courtesy to those who, in good faith, misunderstand or disagree.

8. Be open-minded: be ready to amend my views in light of new evidence or insight.

9. Be impartial: rely only on accepted criteria when judging others or their work.

10. Be scrupulous: declare any conflict of interest that may bias my scholarly judgment.

For Managers

To the best of my ability I will build my enterprise’s capacity to support academic projects, by strengthening its resources, relationships and reputation, guided by the statements that define its public mission. In doing so I will:

1. Dare to strategize: seek to establish policies and strategies to build my enterprise’s expertise, facilities, finances, assets and external support.

2. Manage well: organize and develop people, projects, work routines, systems and budgets, to serve the aims and needs of the enterprise.

3. Build trust: treat people with respect and respond to concerns in good faith.

4. Be responsible: make sure decisions are made with due consideration of their costs, risks and benefits to all those affected.

5. Be compliant: abide by all laws, contracts and authorized decisions relevant to my office.

6. Be transparent: report clearly and accurately on the performance of my enterprise, so that others have access to reliable information.

7. Be entrepreneurial: reorganize people, projects, work routines, systems and budgets, so that my enterprise can respond effectively to new risks and opportunities.

8. Be public-spirited: seek to ensure that my enterprise contributes to economic well-being, social inclusion and environmental sustainability.

9. Be open-minded: in the light of experience, be ready to revise my policies and strategies.

10. Be scrupulous: refrain from placing my private interests above the corporate interests of my enterprise, the integrity of its mission or strategy, or the rights of its constituencies.

 

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