EDITORIAL

Whither (wither?) tenure?

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Science  11 Dec 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6266, pp. 1295
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad9966

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Summary

The system of tenure for university faculty in the United States arose in the late 19th to early 20th centuries to guarantee that academics would not be capriciously dismissed if they conducted research on controversial topics, pursued “unpromising” research, or did not conform to conventional beliefs. Much in the world has changed in the past 100 years, from the demographics of the academic workforce and the scale of the educational enterprise, to the pace of discovery and the legal statutes surrounding retirement. These changes prompt a reexamination: Is tenure the best way to nurture scholarly growth and academic freedom, or has its cost become too much to bear?