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Academia is the internationally recognized establishment of professional scholars and students, usually centered on colleges and universities, who are engaged in higher education and research


  • 1 Etymology
  • 2 History
    • 21 Ancient world
      • 211 Greece and early Europe
      • 212 Africa
      • 213 China
      • 214 India
      • 215 Islamic world
    • 22 Medieval Europe
    • 23 Academic societies
    • 24 Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
  • 3 Academic personnel
  • 4 Structure
    • 41 Qualifications
    • 42 Academic conferences
    • 43 Conflicting goals
      • 431 Practice and theory
      • 432 Town and gown
      • 433 Commerce and scholarship
  • 5 Academic publishing
    • 51 History of academic journals
    • 52 Current status and development
  • 6 Academic dress
  • 7 See also
  • 8 References
  • 9 Bibliography
  • 10 External links


The word comes from the akademeia in ancient Greece, which derives from the Athenian hero, Akademos Outside the city walls of Athens, the gymnasium was made famous by Plato as a center of learning The sacred space, dedicated to the goddess of wisdom, Athena, had formerly been an olive grove, hence the expression "the groves of Academe"

In these gardens, the philosopher Plato conversed with followers Plato developed his sessions into a method of teaching philosophy and in 387 BC, established what is known today as the Old Academy

By extension academia has come to mean the cultural accumulation of knowledge, its development and transmission across generations and its practitioners and transmitters In the 17th century, British, Italian and French scholars used the term to describe types of institutions of higher learning


See also: History of universities

Ancient world

Main article: Ancient higher-learning institutions

Greece and early Europe

Main article: Academy

In ancient Greece, after the establishment of the original Academy, Plato's colleagues and pupils developed spin-offs of his method Arcesilaus, a Greek student of Plato established the Middle Academy Carneades, another student, established the New Academy In 335 BC, Aristotle refined the method with his own theories and established the Lyceum in another gymnasium


The library of Alexandria in Egypt was frequented by intellectuals from Africa, Europe and Asia studying various aspects of philosophy, language and mathematics

The University of Timbuktu was a medieval university in Timbuktu, present-day Mali, which comprised three schools: the Mosque of Djinguereber, the Mosque of Sidi Yahya, and the Mosque of Sankore During its zenith, the university had an average attendance of around 25,000 students within a city of around 100,000 people


In China a higher education institution Shang Xiang was founded by Shun in the Youyu era before the 21st century BC The Imperial Central Academy at Nanjing, founded in 258, was a result of the evolution of Shang Xiang and it became the first comprehensive institution combining education and research and was divided into five faculties in 470, which later became Nanjing University

In the 8th century another kind of institution of learning emerged, named Shuyuan, which were generally privately owned There were thousands of Shuyuan recorded in ancient times The degrees from them varied from one to another and those advanced Shuyuan such as Bailudong Shuyuan and Yuelu Shuyuan can be classified as higher institutions of learning


Taxila or Takshashila, in ancient India, modern-day Pakistan, was an early Buddhist centre of learning, near present-day Islamabad in the city of Taxila It is considered as one of the ancient universities of the world According to scattered references which were only fixed a millennium later it may have dated back to at least the 5th century BC Some scholars date Takshashila's existence back to the 6th century BC The school consisted of several monasteries without large dormitories or lecture halls where the religious instruction was most likely still provided on an individualistic basis Takshashila is described in some detail in later Jātaka tales, written in Sri Lanka around the 5th century AD

It became a noted centre of learning at least several centuries BC, and continued to attract students until the destruction of the city in the 5th century AD Takshashila is perhaps best known because of its association with Chanakya The famous treatise Arthashastra Sanskrit for The knowledge of Economics by Chanakya, is said to have been composed in Takshashila itself Chanakya or Kautilya, the Maurya Emperor Chandragupta and the Ayurvedic healer Charaka studied at Taxila

Generally, a student entered Takshashila at the age of sixteen The Vedas and the Eighteen Arts, which included skills such as archery, hunting, and elephant lore, were taught, in addition to its law school, medical school, and school of military science

Nalanda, ancient center of higher learning in Bihar, India from 427 to 1197

Nalanda was established in the 5th century AD in Bihar, India It was founded in 427 in northeastern India, not far from what is today the southern border of Nepal It survived until 1197 when it was set upon, destroyed and burnt by the marauding forces of Ikhtiyar Uddin Muhammad bin Bakhtiyar Khilji It was devoted to Buddhist studies, but it also trained students in fine arts, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, politics and the art of war

The center had eight separate compounds, 10 temples, meditation halls, classrooms, lakes and parks It had a nine-story library where monks meticulously copied books and documents so that individual scholars could have their own collections It had dormitories for students, perhaps a first for an educational institution, housing 10,000 students in the university’s heyday and providing accommodation for 2,000 professors Nalanda University attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey

Islamic world

Main article: Islamic Golden Age § Education

Founded in Fes, University of Al-Karaouine in the 9th century and in Cairo, Al-Azhar University in the 10th century, and in Mali, the University of Timbuktu in about 1100 Mustansiriya Madrasah in Baghdad, Iraq was established in 1227 as a madrasah by the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustansir Its library had an initial collection of 80,000 volumes, given by the Caliph The collection was said to have grown to 400,000 volumes

Medieval Europe

Main article: Medieval university

In Europe, the academy dates to the ancient Greeks and Romans in the pre-Christian era Newer universities were founded in the 12th and 13th centuries, and the European institution of academia took shape Monks and priests moved out of monasteries to cathedral cities and other towns where they opened the first schools dedicated to advanced study

The most notable of these new schools were in Bologna, Paris, Oxford and Cambridge, while others were opened throughout Europe

The seven liberal arts — the Trivium Grammar, Rhetoric, and Logic, and the Quadrivium Arithmetic, Geometry, Music, and Astronomy — had been codified in late antiquity This was the basis of the curriculum in Europe until newly available Arabic texts and the works of Aristotle became more available in Europe in the 12th century

It remained in place even after the new scholasticism of the School of Chartres and the encyclopedic work of Thomas Aquinas, until the humanism of the 15th and 16th centuries opened new studies of arts and sciences

Academic societies

Main article: Learned society

Academic societies or learned societies began as groups of academics who worked together or presented their work to each other These informal groups later became organized and in many cases state-approved Membership was restricted, usually requiring approval of the current members and often total membership was limited to a specific number The Royal Society founded in 1660 was the first such academy The American Academy of Arts and Sciences was begun in 1780 by many of the same people prominent in the American Revolution Academic societies served both as a forum to present and publish academic work, the role now served by academic publishing, and as a means to sponsor research and support academics, a role they still serve Membership in academic societies is still a matter of prestige in modern academia

Eighteenth and nineteenth centuries

See also: History of higher education in the United States

Academia began to splinter from its Christian roots in 18th-century colonial America In 1753, Benjamin Franklin established the Academy and Charitable School of the Province of Pennsylvania In 1755, it was renamed the College and Academy and Charitable School of Philadelphia Today, it is known as the University of Pennsylvania For the first time, academia was established as a secular institution For the most part, church-based dogmatic points of view were no longer thrust upon students in the examination of their subjects of study Points of view became more varied as students were free to wander in thought without having to add religious dimensions to their conclusions

In 1819, Thomas Jefferson founded the University of Virginia and developed the standards used today in organizing colleges and universities across the globe The curriculum was taken from the traditional liberal arts, classical humanism and the values introduced with the Protestant Reformation Jefferson offered his students something new: the freedom to chart their own courses of study rather than mandate a fixed curriculum for all students Religious colleges and universities followed suit

The Academy movement in the US in the early 19th century arose from a public sense that education in the classic disciplines needed to be extended into the new territories and states that were being formed in the Old Northwest, in western New York State, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois Dozens of academies were founded in the area, supported by private donations

During the Age of Enlightenment in 18th-century Europe, the academy started to change in Europe In the beginning of the 19th century Wilhelm von Humboldt not only published his philosophical paper On the Limits of State Action, but also directed the educational system in Prussia for a short time He introduced an academic system that was much more accessible to the lower classes Humboldt's Ideal was an education based on individuality, creativity, wholeness, and versatility Many continental European universities are still rooted in these ideas or at least pay lip-service to them They are, however, in contradiction to today's massive trend of specialization in academia

Academic personnel

Main article: Faculty academic staff Main listing: Academic ranks See also: Academic administration

An academic is a person who works as a teacher or researcher at a university or other higher education institution An academic usually holds an advanced degree The term scholar is sometimes used with equivalent meaning to that of academic and describes in general those who attain mastery in a research discipline It has wider application, with it also being used to describe those whose occupation was researched prior to organized higher education

Academic administrators such as university presidents are not typically included in this use of the term academic, although many administrators hold advanced degrees and pursue scholarly research and writing while also tending to their administrative duties

In the United States, the term academic is approximately synonymous with that of the job title professor although in recent decades a growing number of institutions include librarians in the category of "academic staff" In the United Kingdom, various titles of academic rank are used, typically research associate, research fellow also senior research fellow and principal research fellow, lecturer also senior lecturer and principal lecturer, reader, and professor The colloquial term don is sometimes substituted for teaching staff at Oxford and Cambridge


Academia is usually conceived of as divided into disciplines or fields of study These have their roots in the subjects of the medieval trivium and quadrivium, which provided the model for scholastic thought in the first universities in medieval Europe

The disciplines have been much revised, and many new disciplines have become more specialized, researching smaller and smaller areas Because of this, interdisciplinary research is often prized in today's academy, though it can also be made difficult both by practical matters of administration and funding and by differing research methods of different disciplines In fact, many new fields of study have initially been conceived as interdisciplinary, and later become specialized disciplines in their own right - a recent example is cognitive science

Most academic institutions reflect the divide of the disciplines in their administrative structure, being divided internally into departments or programs in various fields of study Each department is typically administered and funded separately by the academic institution, though there may be some overlap and faculty members, research and administrative staff may in some cases be shared among departments In addition, academic institutions generally have an overall administrative structure usually including a president and several deans which is controlled by no single department, discipline, or field of thought Also, the tenure system, a major component of academic employment and research in the US, serves to ensure that academia is relatively protected from political and financial pressures on thought


Main article: Academic degree

The degree awarded for completed study is the primary academic qualification Typically these are, in order of completion, associate's degree, bachelor's degree awarded for completion of undergraduate study, master's degree, and doctorate awarded after graduate or postgraduate study These are only currently being standardized in Europe as part of the Bologna process, as many different degrees and standards of time to reach each are currently awarded in different countries in Europe In most fields the majority of academic researchers and teachers have doctorates or other terminal degrees, though in some professional and creative fields it is common for scholars and teachers to have only master's degrees

Academic conferences

Main article: Academic conference

Closely related to academic publishing is the practice of bringing a number of intellectuals in a field to give talks on their research at an academic conference, often allowing for a wider audience to be exposed to their ideas

Conflicting goals

Within academia, diverse constituent groups have diverse, and sometimes conflicting, goals In the contemporary academy several of these conflicts are widely distributed and common A salient example of conflict is that between the goal to improve teaching quality and the goal to reduce costs The conflicting goals of professional education programs and general education advocates currently are playing out in the negotiation over accreditation standards

Practice and theory

Putting theory into practice can result in a gap between what is learned in academic settings and how that learning is manifested in practical settings This is addressed in a number of professional schools such as education and social work, which require students to participate in practica for credit Students are taught to bridge the gap between theory and practice

Not everyone agrees on the value of theory as opposed to practice Academics are sometimes criticized as lacking practical experience and thus too insulated from the 'real world' Academic insularity is colloquially criticized as being "ivory tower"; when used pejoratively, this term is criticized as anti-intellectualism

To address this split, there is a growing body of practice research, such as the practice-based research network PBRN within clinical medical research Arts and humanities departments debate how to define this emerging research phenomenon There are a variety of contested models of practice research practice-as-research, practice-based and practice through research, for example, screen media practice research

Town and gown

Main article: Town and gown

Universities are often culturally distinct from the towns or cities where they reside In some cases this leads to discomfort or outright conflict between local residents and members of the university over political, economic, or other issues Some localities in the Northeastern United States, for instance, have tried to block students from registering to vote as local residents—instead encouraging them to vote by absentee ballot at their primary residence—in order to retain control of local politics Other issues can include deep cultural and class divisions between local residents and university students The film Breaking Away dramatizes such a conflict

Commerce and scholarship

The goals of research for profit and for the sake of knowledge often conflict to some degree

Academic publishing

Main article: Academic publishing

History of academic journals

Among the earliest research journals were the Proceedings of Meetings of the Royal Society in the 17th Century At that time, the act of publishing academic inquiry was controversial, and widely ridiculed It was not at all unusual for a new discovery to be announced as an anagram, reserving priority for the discoverer, but indecipherable for anyone not in on the secret: both Isaac Newton and Leibniz used this approach However, this method did not work well Robert K Merton, a sociologist, found that 92 percent of cases of simultaneous discovery in the 17th century ended in dispute The number of disputes dropped to 72 percent in the 18th century, 59 percent by the latter half of the 19th century, and 33 percent by the first half of the 20th century The decline in contested claims for priority in research discoveries can be credited to the increasing acceptance of the publication of papers in modern academic journals

The Royal Society was steadfast in its unpopular belief that science could only move forward through a transparent and open exchange of ideas backed by experimental evidence Many of the experiments were ones that we would not recognize as scientific today—nor were the questions they answered For example, when the Duke of Buckingham was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society on June 5, 1661, he presented the Society with a vial of powdered "unicorn horn" It was a well-accepted 'fact' that a circle of unicorn's horn would act as an invisible cage for any spider Robert Hooke, the chief experimenter of the Royal Society, emptied the Duke's vial into a circle on a table and dropped a spider in the centre of the circle The spider promptly walked out of the circle and off the table In its day, this was cutting-edge research

Current status and development

Research journals have been so successful that the number of journals and of papers has proliferated over the past few decades, and the credo of the modern academic has become "publish or perish" Except for generalist journals such as Science or Nature, the topics covered in any single journal have tended to be narrow, and readership and citation have declined A variety of methods for reviewing submissions exist The most common involves initial approval by the journal, peer review by two or three researchers working in similar or closely related subjects who recommend approval or rejection as well as request error correction, clarification or additions before publishing Controversial topics may receive additional levels of review Journals have developed a hierarchy, partly based on reputation but also on the strictness of the review policy More prestigious journals are more likely to receive and publish more important work Submitters try to submit their work to the most prestigious journal likely to publish it to bolster their reputation and curriculum vitae

Andrew Odlyzko, an academician with a large number of published research papers, has argued that research journals will evolve into something akin to Internet forums over the coming decade, by extending the interactivity of current Internet preprints This change may open them up to a wider range of ideas, some more developed than others Whether this will be a positive evolution remains to be seen Some claim that forums, like markets, tend to thrive or fail based on their ability to attract talent Some believe that highly restrictive and tightly monitored forums may be the least likely to thrive

Academic dress

Main article: Academic dress

Gowns have been associated with academia since the birth of the university in the 14th and 15th centuries, perhaps because most early scholars were priests or church officials Over time, the gowns worn by degree-holders have become standardized to some extent, although traditions in individual countries and even institutions have established a diverse range of gown styles, and some have ended the custom entirely, even for graduation ceremonies

At some universities, such as the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, undergraduates may be required to wear gowns on formal occasions and on graduation Undergraduate gowns are usually a shortened version of a bachelor's gown At other universities, for example, outside the UK or US, the custom is entirely absent Students at the University of Trinity College at the University of Toronto wear gowns to formal dinner, debates, to student government, and to many other places

In general, in the US and UK recipients of a bachelor's degree are entitled to wear a simple full-length robe without adornment and a mortarboard cap with a tassel In addition, holders of a bachelor's degree may be entitled to wear a ceremonial hood at some schools In the US, bachelor's hoods are rarely seen Bachelor's hoods are generally smaller versions of those worn by recipients of master's and doctoral degrees

Recipients of a master's degree in the US or UK wear a similar cap and gown but closed sleeves with slits, and usually receive a ceremonial hood that hangs down the back of the gown In the US the hood is traditionally edged with a silk or velvet strip displaying the disciplinary color, and is lined with the university's colors

According to The American Council on Education “six-year specialist degrees EdS, etc and other degrees that are intermediate between the master's and the doctor's degree may have hoods specially designed 1 intermediate in length between the master's and doctor's hood, 2 with a four-inch velvet border also intermediate between the widths of the borders of master's and doctor's hoods, and 3 with color distributed in the usual fashion and according to the usual rules Cap tassels should be uniformly black”

Recipients of a doctoral degree tend to have the most elaborate academic dress, and hence there is the greatest diversity at this level In the US, doctoral gowns are similar to the gowns worn by master's graduates, with the addition of velvet stripes across the sleeves and running down the front of the gown which may be tinted with the disciplinary color for the degree received Holders of a doctoral degree may be entitled or obliged to wear scarlet a special gown in scarlet on high days and special occasions While some doctoral graduates wear the mortarboard cap traditional to the lower degree levels, most wear a cap or Tudor bonnet that resembles a tam o'shanter, from which a colored tassel is suspended

In modern times in the US and UK, gowns are normally only worn at graduation ceremonies, although some colleges still demand the wearing of academic dress on formal occasions official banquets and other similar affairs In the 19th and early 20th centuries, it was more common to see the dress worn in the classroom, a practice which has now all but disappeared Two notable exceptions are Oxford and a society at Sewanee, where students are required to wear formal academic dress in the examination room

See also

  • Abstract management
  • Academic acceleration
  • Academic careerism
  • Academic conference
  • Academic dishonesty
  • Academic history
  • Academic inflation
  • Academic inbreeding
  • Academic mobility
  • Academic paper mill
  • Category:Academic terminology
  • Academic conference
  • Academic writing
  • Bullying in academia
  • Byzantine university
  • College rivalry
  • Colloquium
  • Education
  • French mathematical seminars
  • Higher education in Canada
  • List of academic disciplines
  • List of fields of doctoral studies
  • Medieval university
  • Medieval university Asia
  • Proceedings
  • Pseudo-scholarship
  • Pseudoscience
  • Scholarly article
  • Scholarly method
  • Scientific community
  • Scientific method
  • Seminar
  • Sophism
  • Study


  1. ^ "Academe, n" OED Online Oxford University Press  Missing or empty |url= help; |access-date= requires |url= help
  2. ^ Hartmut Scharfe 2002: Education in Ancient India, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 90-04-12556-6, p 141:

    We have to be extremely cautious in dealing with the literary evidence, because much of the information offered in the secondary literature on Taxila is derived from the Jataka prose that was only fixed in Ceylon several hundred years after the events that it purports to describe, probably some time after Buddhaghosa, ie around AD 500

  3. ^ "History of Education", Encyclopædia Britannica, 2007
  4. ^ Hartmut Scharfe 2002: Education in Ancient India, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 90-04-12556-6, p 141
  5. ^ Marshall 1975:81
  6. ^ Kautilya Encyclopædia Britannica
  7. ^ Radhakumud Mookerji 1941; 1960; reprint 1989 Chandragupta Maurya and His Times p 17 Motilal Banarsidass Publ ISBN 81-208-0405-8
  8. ^ a b Radha Kumud Mookerji 2nd ed 1951; reprint 1989 Ancient Indian Education: Brahmanical and Buddhist p 478-489 Motilal Banarsidass Publ ISBN 81-208-0423-6
  9. ^ Altekar, Anant Sadashiv 1965 Education in Ancient India, Sixth, Varanasi: Nand Kishore & Bros
  10. ^ "Really Old School," Garten, Jeffrey E New York Times, 9 December 2006
  11. ^ Altekar, Anant Sadashiv 1965 Education in Ancient India, Sixth, Varanasi: Nand Kishore & Bros
  12. ^ OpEd in New York Times: Nalanda University
  13. ^ Official website of Nalanda University
  14. ^ "Six-Year Specialist Degrees" Archived from the original on 6 December 2006 Retrieved 2006-12-03 


  • A Leight DeNeef and Craufurd D Goodwin, eds The Academic's Handbook 2nd ed Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995
  • Christopher J Lucas and John W Murry, Jr New Faculty A practical Guide for Academic Beginners New York: Modern Language Association, 1992
  • John A Goldsmith, John Komlosk and Penny Schine Gold The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002
  • William Germano Getting it Published: A Guide for Scholars And Anyone ElseSerious about Serious Books Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001
  • Kemp, Roger L "Town and Gown Relations: A Handbook of Best Practices," McFarland and Company, Inc, Jefferson, North Carolina, USA, and London, England, UK 2013 ISBN 978-0-7864-6399-2

External links

  • Academiaedu - Online community of academic scholars
  • Community Contributor of academic Harvard
  • Academia and web 20
  • An Academic costume code and an Academic ceremony guide
  • Bibliography on the history of the university, provided by Palinurus: The Academy and the Corporation, a web site from the University of California, Santa Barbara
  • 'IIRAJ' - International Institute of Research and Journals
  • 'Magistri et Scholares' - Academic News and Resources

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