Point of View: Rethinking academia in a time of climate crisis

  1. Anne E Urai  Is a corresponding author
  2. Clare Kelly  Is a corresponding author
  1. Leiden University, Netherlands
  2. Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
2 figures


Doughnut academia.

Adapting the “doughnut” model of economics to the academic world enables us to visualize the inner social foundations that universities should provide, and the outer human and planetary boundaries that universities need to avoid overshooting. Note that the ordering of elements within the inner and outer rings is random; there is no direct pairing between foundations and ceilings.

Adapted from Raworth, 2017 under a CC-BY-SA license.

Seven ways to think like a 21st century scientist.

1. Change the goal: from a business that produces papers and graduated students, towards a university that works towards the inside space of the academic doughnut. 2. Get savvy with systems: from feeling like a cog in the university machine, towards being gardeners of our academic system. 3. See the big picture: from academics who look out over the world from their ivory tower, towards scholarship which accepts its own embeddedness in (and dependence on) society and the planet. 4. Create to regenerate: from a rat race where we tread water, towards “slow scholarship” that values community building, deep thinking and rest crucial for intellectual work. 5. Nurture human nature: from the lone genius, towards team science. 6. Design to distribute: from a funding system where the rich get richer, towards a fair distribution of opportunities and resources. 7. Be agnostic about growth: from a focus on increasing numbers of papers, citations and students, towards rebuilding trust in our own academic communities and with society.

Inspired by Raworth, 2017 under a CC-BY-SA license. Icons from the Noun Project under a CC-BY 3.0 license: ”Graduates” by Adrien Coquet, “University” by Vectors Point, “Telescope“ by Imron Sadewo, “Rat race“ by Luis Prado, “Rest” by ggz, “Lab research“ by Gan Khoon Lay, “Team idea“ by Shashank Singh, “Champion” by !4716068, “Social network” by Josh Sorosky, “Growth“ by Suminah Wulandari, “Agreement“ by DinosoftLab, “Gear“ by Puchongart, “Watering flowers” by Kangriff, “Butterfly” by Bernd Lakenbrink.

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  1. Anne E Urai
  2. Clare Kelly
Point of View: Rethinking academia in a time of climate crisis
eLife 12:e84991.