Where are the public in measures of the public value of research? Reflections from the field of the humanities.

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Paul Benneworth
Center for Higher Education Policy Studies (CHEPS), University of Twente, the Netherlands
Thursday, 8 November 2012 - 12:30

How does research create societal value? Although it seems intuitive that investing in science will drive technological and hence economic development, evidence of the efficacy of those investments is far more ambivalent about the causal link between academic research and social value creation. This presentation seeks to problematize the current innovation policy debate as missing important conceptual nuances about how valorisation processes could potentially function. The presentation takes as its starting point one domain, humanities research, where the tensions in these accounts are immediately evident. Drawing on three divergent theoretical frameworks, namely technology transfer, cultural value and public accountability, this paper seeks to move beyond normative techno-fetishistic accounts of research exploitation to address this problematic and provide conceptual insights as the basis for the articulation of a better perspective on the public value of humanities research in particular, but also the processes by which “publics” value research more generally.


Ciudad Politécnica de la Innovación
Edificio 8E, Acceso J, Planta 4ª (Sala Descubre. Cubo Rojo)
Universidad Politécnica de Valencia | Camino de Vera s/n

Short CV: 

Paul Benneworth is a senior researcher in the Center for Higher Education Policy Studies at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. Paul’s research is fundamentally concerned with the role of knowledge production and societal development, and in particular with relationships between higher education and society through a geographical-scalar lens. He has just finished leading the HERA-funded project Measuring the public value of humanities research (HERAVALUE) exploring how arts & humanities research impacts upon society as a specific example of the wider pathways by which (all kinds of) research creates societal value. He has edited of a number of volumes on this general theme, including Universities and Regional Development (jointly with Romulo Pinheiro & Glen Scott, Routledge, 2012), Universities and Community engagement (Springer, 2012), and The Social Dynamics of Innovation Networks (jointly with Roel Rutten, Dessy Irawati and Frans Boekema, Routledge, under contract).