University as Truth Spot – Thomas Gieryn

GierynPersonal experience, regional economic developer and graduate earning power are common justifications for the survival and value of colleges and universities. Thomas Gieryn views more at stake.

Gieryn sees universities as truth spots, those places that lend credibility to claims of truth and legitimacy to beliefs. He sees campuses as places saturated with the people, information, mission and opportunity to pursue truth. [Video]

“The university is a saturated place. Around the corner is inevitably something or someone you will learn from. Pasteur observed that ‘chance favors the prepared mind.’ Chance [also] favors the prepared place and the university is such a place. The people, the data, the machines, everything you need for the ‘chance’ discovery – a place saturated with all the ingredients of truth making.”

Gieryn is emeritus Rudy Professor of Sociology at Indiana University. His work is among the most widely cited on the cultural authority of science and on the significance of place for human behavior and social change. His work covers human experience from religion to science – from Delphi to the laboratory.  This conversation was recorded March 12, 2015, in his office, then as Associate Provost of Indiana University.




CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

One thought on “University as Truth Spot – Thomas Gieryn

  1. This is really good. I would emphasize the implied additional factor that the university environment is also saturated with a mindset that highly values this search for truth, encourages this search and the necessary steps to go from idea to proven truth, a mindset not generally supported in much of the rest of society – ours or any other society.

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