Posted by: bluesyemre | April 18, 2019

#Knowledge to the people by #JanetNapolitano

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Champions of learning

When Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press in the 1400s, he understood that it would lead to an information revolution. For the first time, people outside the cultural elite could easily and cheaply access information for themselves. Unprecedented sociopolitical progress followed.

In the centuries since Gutenberg’s invention, social equality has been fueled in part through the efforts of institutions like the University of California, which was founded on the revolutionary idea that college should be available to everyone. Indeed, UC’s defined mission is “to serve society as a center of higher learning, providing long-term societal benefits through transmitting advanced knowledge…”

Expanding educational access and increasing public knowledge and understanding of our world is a fundamental tenet of our institution. And achieving this is only possible when we ensure that UC is a conduit of information rather than being, or partnering with, its gatekeepers.

Ownership of and access to information

Today, we are seeing a renewed debate around what knowledge should be available to whom and at what cost. UC is at the forefront of this conversation. We are working to secureuniversal open-access publishing of all our research so that anyone will be able to read it, free of charge.

To understand why this is essential, we just need to look at the significant achievements of our institution over the past 150 years. It was UC professor Eugene W. Hilgard who, in 1875, taught farmers how to remove salts from the alkali soils of the Central Valley — birthing what would become one of the most productive farming regions in the world. UC professor Leonard Kleinrock “began” the internet, indelibly transforming business and communications. UC graduate Mary-Claire King identified the gene responsible for hereditary breast cancer, making pre-cancer screenings possible for millions of women.

UC has, among countless other achievements, brought us open-heart surgery and organ transplants, breakthroughs in climate solutions and evolutionary biology, advances in prenatal genomic testing and geothermal energy. We currently average five inventions and close to 150 peer-reviewed academic publications per day; we are passionate champions of innovation and entrepreneurship. The remarkable contributions of our researchers have generated 65 Nobel Prizes.

Who owns the knowledge associated with these discoveries? I believe that it belongs to the public.

Much of UC’s research is funded publicly, by taxpayers, in the form of state budget allocations and federal research grants. Yet, the current academic publishing model requires those same taxpayers to pay a fee to access its findings. That’s hardly fair. All research that is publicly funded or conducted in public universities should be available to the public. That’s why UC has joined the academic communities of Germany, Sweden, Hungary and, most recently, Norway, in calling for a reimagination of this model — one that offers unfettered public access to our extraordinary research.

 A charge to lead the way

Today, I urge my colleagues at universities nationwide and worldwide to join the University of California in advocating for open access to the groundbreaking research taking place on our campuses and in our laboratories every day. Now is the time to take a stand — together — and launch the next information revolution by ensuring that publicly funded research can benefit all humankind.

I recently received a message from Greg Panzanaro, a high school science teacher in Upstate New York. “I applaud UC’s efforts to shift the market to open access,” he wrote. “As a high school science teacher, I am often frustrated by the financial blocks to accessing research articles that would extend my knowledge and the learning experiences I strive for in my classes. Open access will open the doors to deeper learning opportunities at the high school level and thereby enrich our efforts for college preparedness.”

What changes when people have more access to knowledge? They learn. They grow. They share their knowledge further, and they change society for the better, for all of us. It is only by sharing the valuable knowledge we hold that we may all advance together. As our great University’s motto charges, Fiat Lux: Let There Be Light!

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