“The research enterprise of a leading academic institution is a complex system of human, physical and digital infrastructures that functions to support the production of new knowledge and the advancement and training of research practitioners.”
This statement reminds me of a mission statement for an organization, or a brief preamble to a constitution; it sums up a complex idea into a succinct phrase, making the idea itself appear just as neat and straightforward. However, quality research is never (at least from my experience) as harmonious as this statement makes it seem. Research is about curiosity, mistakes, creativity, and chance, not just about parts of a machine working seamlessly together to spit out new knowledge; there is a lot more to the story. Basically, I find the statement a little dry for my taste.
But ignoring the fact that this statement gives a rather 1-dimentional view of the work of a research enterprise (it is only one sentence after all), I find the phrase quite legitimate. I can’t help but to be reminded of U of M, and the vast number of research projects that are pursued here. The idea of “new knowledge” is also interesting. Assuming that there are absolute truths, the only thing that keeps those truths (facts) from being knowledge is that we just don’t know them yet, which is a certainly an inspiring idea. It makes you feel like the information is waiting, just outside of our reach, to be known, and deemed “new knowledge”.
Another idea that I got from this sentence was the idea of immortality. Not only does each generation participate in doing research and designing the digital and physical structures to be used as tools in research, each generation passes on their experiences to the next group of young researchers, scientists, and teachers. People in the “Academia” (as Professor Gus mentioned) have dedicated their lives to working together and ensuring that the cycle of discovery continues on.