The Instigator
Dorb
Pro (for)
Losing
3 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
15 Points

Problem with your university's mission statement

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/19/2010 Category: Education
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,000 times Debate No: 12371
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (5)

 

Dorb

Pro

I will argue that your university's mission statement falsely advertises what the school can actually do. In other words, that the statement includes claims and ambitions that are impossible to actually accomplish through a university.

For this debate, my opponent will use the first round to post the name of their university, and mission statement of said university. And then, in round 2 and 3, we will present our arguments. And again, I will argue that your university's statement has ambitions that go beyond the scope of the university's potential to carry out.

To whoever enters this debate, thank you and good luck.
Danielle

Con

Thanks for starting this debate, Pro. I'm assuming that it will hinge on semantics of some kind but I'm interested to see where this discussion takes us. My college has a 3-fold mission statement which can be found here [1]. Best of luck!

RUTGERS UNIVERSITY MISSION STATEMENT:

* providing for the instructional needs of New Jersey's citizens through its undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education programs;

* conducting the cutting-edge research that contributes to the medical, environmental, social and cultural well-being of the state, as well as aiding the economy and the state's businesses and industries; and

* performing public service in support of the needs of the citizens of the state and its local, county, and state governments.

[1] http://www.rutgers.edu...
Debate Round No. 1
Dorb

Pro

I hoped, and still hope, that my argument would not rest on semantics, but given a profound lack of detail to Rutgers' statement, something I could not have predicted, my argument will take advantage of vague definitions.

The first part of Rutgers' mission seems fine, but it is about the only thing okay with it. Rutgers' statement errs on its other two fronts.

To begin, I argue that universities should not have any public policy, economic policy, or any policy except an educational policy. The dangers inherent in a more expansive notion of what universities should be doing were dramatically illustrated and proven in April 2006 when a major association of British higher education professors voted to boycott Israeli universities and refuse to do business with Israeli academics until they publicly disavowed the policies and practices of their government [1]. This case, although extreme, demonstrates the same kind of thinking blatantly expressed in Rutgers' mission: that universities can somehow save the world through their research and public service.

The Rutgers' mission states: "conducting the cutting-edge research that contributes to the medical, environmental, social, and cultural well-being of the state." But in reality, all that a university can do, or does in reality do, is produce research (that is read almost exclusively by other academics) and educate students. True, it may be argued, as the note at the bottom of the mission's website suggests, that "research creates the new knowledge so necessary to support quality instruction," and that by producing research into the "social and cultural well-being of the state," professors are equipped to produce students who will promote the "social and cultural well-being of the state."

But this, I contend, is clearly too ambitious. Think about it: what research could possibly contribute to a definitive "social and cultural well-being" when the category itself is undefined, unstable, and constantly being debated? Furthermore, how can teachers fashion students with social and cultural virtues? How can teachers inculcate, among their students, respect for others?

University teachers, in truth, can legitimately do two things: (1) introduce students to bodies of knowledge that had not previously been part of their experience; and (2), equip those same students with the analytical skills that will enable them to engage those bodies of knowledge. Anything else that a teacher does is by chance, and should not be expressed in the university's mission.

What teachers can do is introduce students to the various debates surrounding the state's social and cultural well-being, and they can even show students how to analyze and evaluate these debates. But, contrary to Rutgers' mission, they cannot create citizens willing to promote particular teachers' personal view of the state's "social and cultural well-being."

1. http://en.wikipedia.org...
Danielle

Con

Pro begins, "I argue that universities should not have any ... policy except an educational policy." This suggests that colleges aim specifically to affect other areas; however, the reality is that the main (and only) policy IS educational policy, but it's realistic to acknowledge how said education influences other aspects of society. To quote the page from the mission statement itself, "Each component of the university's mission reinforces and supports the other[s]. For example, research creates the new knowledge so necessary to support quality instruction and innovative public service."

In other words, nowhere does Rutgers' MS say that it will focus on advancing public or economic policy. Instead, it mentions that the result of their efforts would undoubtedly be improvement in those areas (i.e. via their research). Remember that the research done on behalf of students does enrich their academic experience and in many cases is part of their educational requirements - including public service. We also must keep in mind that doing public service for NJ citizens is probably a part of the mission because it's those citizens who are responsible for a large part of the school's funding (tax payers). By doing public service on behalf of RU, it garners the school more money both directly from the State as well as via good advertising.

That said, I'll address Pro's next comment - "[Rutgers' mission states]: that universities can somehow save the world through their research and public service." I strongly disagree. Not only is the Israeli example a far-fetched analogy, but nowhere in the MS does it say anything about trying to save anyone. In fact, the 3 components of the MS were: Providing instruction for NJ residents; conducting research; and performing public service. No aspect of that mission is political let alone attempting to save the world.

Pro continues, "Think about it: what research could possibly contribute to a definitive social and cultural well-being?" The statement he's referring to pertains to the type of research RU promises to do (social and cultural). In addition to the sciences, this statement simply notes that RU does other types of research as well. He asks how teachers can fashion students with social and cultural virtues, but nowhere is that promise made or even implied in the MS.

Pro concludes, "Contrary to Rutgers' mission, they cannot create citizens willing to promote particular teachers' personal view of the state's social and cultural well-being." Again, RU's statement promises no such scenario. Just because it notes that research is an important part of the university's culture (and reputation) does not mean that it says the students will conform to any particular social standards.

In short, all I've seen so far is a manipulation of RU's actual mission statement - not proof that their MS contains any false advertising or unattainable goals. Back to ye, Pro.
Debate Round No. 2
Dorb

Pro

In response to my question, "what research could possibly contribute to a definitive social and cultural well-being," Con admits (or implies), through silence, that research cannot contribute to a state's "social and cultural well-being."

Instead of answering my question, Con states that the "type of research RU promises to do" is "social and cultural," and that "in addition to the sciences, this statement simply notes that RU does other types of research as well." Con is wrong, as the MS does not "simply note" that "RU does other types of research," but clearly states that its research actually "contributes" to the "social and cultural well-being of the state." Con leaves out the part about contributing to the well-being of the state through its research.

Let me make this clear, then. The RU MS says: "conducting the cutting-edge research that contributes to the medical, environmental, social and cultural well-being of the state." In short, "conducting… research that contributes to the…. social and cultural well-being of the state."

I have emphasized the important words here to show how this statement contains false advertising, as well as showing how Con manipulated the MS in the preceding argument. This statement does not say that RU will "conduct" research ABOUT the social and cultural well-being of the state, as Con argued. What it distinctly says is that RU will conduct research that will CONTRIBUTE to the social and cultural well-being of the state. The keywords are "contributes to" and "social and cultural well-being." This could not be any clearer: RU is claiming that its research can actually make a difference in the social and cultural well-being of the state, and not only that it produces research about the social and cultural.

Again, Con implied that this is an unattainable goal by not answering the question I posed.

And while I admit that it is possible (anything is possible) that research may "contribute" to the "social and cultural well-being," this is not something that, to use Con's words, "undoubtedly" would happen. It is a contingent effect, something that is well outside the control of the university.

Finally, the reason research cannot contribute to the social and cultural "well-being" is because, in order to contribute to the "well-being" of something, the category in question – in this case, the social and cultural – must be defined before any contribution. As I stated in Round 2, the well-being of the "social and cultural" is a category that cannot be definitively defined, is unstable, and is always up for debate. RU in effect makes a claim in their MS that they have the answer to what the "social and cultural well-being of the state" is. Because that is impossible, and as I am forced to assume Con agrees with this (she remained silent when I brought it up in Round 2), we must conclude that RU's MS contains false advertising.

Thank you for this excellent debate! And good luck.
Danielle

Con

Pro clarifies, "What it distinctly says is that RU will conduct research that will CONTRIBUTE to the social and cultural well-being of the state..." Indeed the MS does say that RU's research will contribute to various fields, but this does nothing to further Pro's argument. In R1 he explained that he will "argue that your university's mission statement falsely advertises what the school can actually do. In other words, that the statement includes claims and ambitions that are impossible to actually accomplish through a university." How has Pro proven that RU cannot *contribute* to the various fields? On the contrary, RU is among the country's most elite research universities [1]. This proves RU makes good on that portion of the MS; it is not impossible to achieve.

Pro continues, "RU is claiming that its research can actually make a difference in the social and cultural well-being of the state, and not only that it produces research about the social and cultural." He claims I have not answered his question about how research can contribute; however, in noting that RU produces research I have explained how RU helps to *contribute* so I did in fact respond. Doing the research itself (which Pro never denies that RU does) is contributing. Gathering research helps garner facts and statistics for politicians, scientists, etc. Ergo in acknowledging that RU conducts research Pro subsequently acknowledges that they contribute to the various fields that their research pertains to.

Pro's case rests on the notion that RU cannot guarantee that their research will contribute but that is false. It's research page describes the work that RU affiliates are working on [2]. From there are various links to different projects that describe how the research is relevant in today's society. Remember, a mission statement is nothing more than a declaration of the university's goals. Pro has the burden of explaining why these missions are impossible or promote false advertising. The site says that it's MISSION [aim] is to contribute relevant research - which it does [3]; teach NJ students - which it does; and do public service in NJ which it also does.

Pro concludes by saying that since social and cultural are words that cannot be defined, RU is wrong to claim that it can contribute in those areas. This again is false. Both of those words have reliable and standard definitions [4]. Pro writes, "RU makes a claim in their MS that they have the answer to what the social and cultural well-being of the state is." This is also false. It doesn't claim to know what is right; only that research will contribute to the well-being of society because information is relevant and useful.

Thanks and good luck!

[1] http://www.aau.edu...
[2] http://www.rutgers.edu...
[3] http://www.northjersey.com...
[4] http://dictionary.reference.com...
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by twsurber 6 years ago
twsurber
Mission
To develop Christ-centered men and women with the values, knowledge, and skills essential to impact tomorrow's world. The mission is carried out for resident students through a rigorous academic program and structured social environment. It is carried out for external students in a comparable academic program but without the structure of the resident community.
Liberty University Go Flames!
Posted by Dorb 6 years ago
Dorb
There are plenty. According to the Bible, curiosity got us kicked out of Eden. Curiosity has led the development of nuclear weapons and biological weapons that could destroy all of humanity. Curiosity has led to terrible experiments done on human beings. If you ever read Marlowe's "Dr. Faustus," Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," H.G. Wells' "The Island of Dr. Moreau" and Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," the main message of these books is that curiosity, when unchecked, can be a terrible thing.
Posted by omelet 6 years ago
omelet
> Unbound and unchecked curiosity can lead down a very dark path...
Is there an example that has any application in a normal person's life?
Posted by Dorb 6 years ago
Dorb
I disagree. Unbound and unchecked curiosity can lead down a very dark path...
Posted by Clockwork 6 years ago
Clockwork
The only good is knowledge, and the only evil ignorance- Socrates
Posted by TheSkeptic 6 years ago
TheSkeptic
Huh, I didn't actually expect this to turn out that well.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
I whole heartedly agree. At first I thought the character limits were going to be a problem because usually it's hard enough for me to limit my arguments to 8,000 characters let alone 2,000 lol but it was a nice way to keep the debate short and straight to the point. Thanks so much.
Posted by Dorb 6 years ago
Dorb
No inconvenience. Let me just say again, thanks for this debate. It has been a pleasure, through and through.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
Well, I just lost my entire round as my browser shut off and for some reason the Auto Save didn't save anything recent. Luckily the first and only first paragraph I wrote was salvagable lol. Anyway I'm signing off for now -- the internet at my house is shakey at best so I might have to post the final round tomorrow morning just before the deadline (considering the early deadline). Sorry for any inconvenience :)
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 6 years ago
RoyLatham
DorbDanielleTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by Dorb 6 years ago
Dorb
DorbDanielleTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Vote Placed by omelet 6 years ago
omelet
DorbDanielleTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Vote Placed by Clockwork 6 years ago
Clockwork
DorbDanielleTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:04 
Vote Placed by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
DorbDanielleTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:05