Lolita Nikolova's science and society
Citation: Nikolova, L. (Online). Academic Bullying and Devolution of Society. International Institute
of Anthropology Publications
, January 3, 2015.


Links: Balkan Prehistory and Science

Lolita Nikolova at

Academic Bullying and Devolution of Society

Lolita Nikolova, PhD, International Institute of Anthropology


Society is a live system in which act real people with different goals and ideals. The people can
improve but also devolve the human achievements.

Academic leadership is a key construct of tendencies in social life which are based on a leadership
power. However, in the social practices of the academic leadership there are many elements of
emotional bullying which devolve society. The article analyses some of the forms of academic
bullying and proposes model to invert the devolutionary aspects of the academic system into
evolutional. Physical and emotional bullying are two sides of one and the same coin of social
harassment which should be avoided as behavior and punished when happens in society.


Development of the global society creates opportunity for building a social system of standards
which stimulates progress and rehumanization. The western democracy is the best positive example
how society can assist the individuals in their success. It is the opposite of the pseudodemocracy of
communist dictatorship type in which the word democracy (in term of socialistic democracy) has
been used as a shield of most anti-humanistic political regimes. However, the western democracy
does not precondition moral personal ideology of the leaders with embedded main principals of
humanity, since the latter are not like a law – the moral principles of humanity can be followed, but
they can be visibly or invisibly violated as well. Then, the belonging to western democracy itself does
not mean that one individual or a subsystem is by definition and ideal absolute positiveness, since
people easily can corrupt the ideals and the social practices. It is especially true for the academic
environments where the positions often can be occupied through corrupted methods.

Academic bullying is a topic which attempts to reveal these aspects of the academic social practices
which embeds anti-humanism and which assists a devolution of society. The research study refers to
constructed theoretical models without including case studies, which requires different methodology.

The phenomenon of physical and emotional bullying as harassment and violence has endless forms
of human behavior (see e.g. Randall, 1996; Schaad, 2000; Conn, 2004; Harris, 2009; Monks &
Coyne, 2011). From the perspectives of the leadership, bullying is especially critical for society since
it embeds power and may have a very strong social effect in the devolution of society as a form of
leaders’ victimization.

Leaders in the academic life

The way in which the contemporary leaders have been selected creates the base for devolution since
many traditions of the Cold War still continue to be reproduced. Generally, the corruption in higher
education has become a special interest of scholars since without integrity and transparency
(Washburn, online), the leaders begin to act as individuals who very easily violate the basic norms of

There are two popular leader positions in the academic life – department chairs and main editors of

Department chairs

Ideally the department chairs are individuals with significant scientific contributions and wide social
impact on society, as well as moral people. However, the social practice demonstrates rather
different situations. Department chairs become internal or external to the given university/college
individuals who the university search committee select based on their position toward the embedded
in the university standards. Although the university is an educational social institution with a global
impact, the university search committee may exclude members who are able to look at the chair
position as a place for global leadership and changes. As a paradox of culture a chair can easily
become a person even without a published monograph while individuals with several monographs
have been rejected without interviews. In fact the policy according to which the searched committee
have the right to reject somebody without interview, is a corruption and an emotional bullying since
does not allow scholars with equal abilities to have equal access to the leading academic position.
Other corrupted components/bullying methods include specific requests  -̶  e.g., number of years and
kind of experience, or peculiar education, which is usually the education of already chosen candidate
before the beginning of the concourse. The experience can be gained through education and in some
cases having an experience in one field can help to lead another field, even in a better way than a
replication of the tradition of the specific field.

After becoming a chair, the corrupted embedded case becomes a role model of the younger
students, especially for the postgraduate doctoral candidates, which may continue the social
devolution since they have a negative example presented to them by the academic authorities as

Another typical type of devolution of society in the academic life is selecting a person related to
secret services. The communist dictatorship in Eastern Europe had created this typical model which
was one of the main factors of the total demoralization and devolution of society (Списък на
служители и сътрудници на държавна сигурност, online). The university policy and code of ethics
must include a special paragraph that any academic employee or contract/adjunct person with a
revealed file of a secret agent/spy automatically should is terminated and no future relation with the
given university are allowed. The academic life is a social stage of honest persons who serve the
needs of their countries through personal moral example and through science and
teaching/researching. The existence of such people in the academic system is a form of academic
bullying since these multi-personalities are unpredictable in their values and in their relation to the
other people.

While the secret services welcome educated collaborators, the latter may use their invisible function
to create a network of people who do not function in way in which the intellectuals would look on
society, culture and academic life.

If we believe in the progress of society, the academic life should be free of any affiliation with the
secret services and there should be visible regulations such people to be excluded from the
academic life. Many spies in particular, have been known to use the looseness of the academic
regulations to live visibly as academically affiliated individuals, although working for foreign services
and damaging the national security and talented people. The academic life is a huge system and it is
very easy to be penetrated by foreign secret services who usually pay well to these amoral people.
Not having a high barriers for such people is a form of academic bullying of the whole society.

Third negative type of chairs are people who is not able to create a department which is integrated
with society and opened to the intellectual wealth of society. Such chairs reproduce a closed system
of a small group of people as mainly paycheck university employees without strong positive social
impact on society and often with negative and amoral behavior. The context of such group excludes
any real interaction with intellectuals dedicated to culture and science only, since their primary goal is
self-reproduction at the expenses of science and culture.

Forth negative type of chairs are people who do not reveal the corruption in their departments and
become a sort of attorneys of corrupted communities. Such chairs reproduce corruption and devolve
society. One of the extremes is searching even for bribes (Temple & Petrov, 2004, p. 93).

Editors-in-chief of journals

The open access policy does not mean that the journal and publishers are open access. The main
editors (editor-in-chief, EIC) are people who should have the intellectual wealth to recognize the
innovation and invention in science and to stimulate the inventions and innovations, as well as to stop
the gray literature of replications.

A negative type chairs are individuals who do not have exemplary scientific production, but have the
power to be judges of others.  Such EIC neither have the experience nor the moral to judge, since
writing is a very specific skill which requires talent, quality research and hard work. Their judgment is
a form of academic bullying even if it is positive, since the positiveness may not reflect real values.

Another negative type of EIC are, for instance, individuals who are committed to reproduction of
corruption in the academic life. Such EIC exists, especially in the countries of the former communist
dictatorship, where the academic life as a subsystem has been still occupied by the servers of the
former communist dictatorships. They devolve society and create a crisis with very long and
damaging the society consequences. The forms of academic bullying of such individuals may vary
from rejecting a contributing research work to psychotronic terrorism.

Some editors of journals may combine the negative components of the academic behavior and
become a real disaster for society.

Leadership and teaching

The academic position is itself a leadership. The type of professor dedicated to teaching and
science is the ideal model, but this model rarely can be documented in the contemporary academic
life. Usually the academic employees have been involved in intrigue scenarios and their mind is
occupied up to 100% with troubling other people and damaging the society though damaging talented
people. The scientific production is of low quality, the money spent is enormously more than needed
for research which neither has strong effect on society nor helps society to progress. Their academic
bullying may vary from collaboration with similar corrupted people to a gang behavior.

Many active and retired professors have been acting through non-for-profit organizations (NFPO).
Once their corruption has been revealed to society, they would find connections to become even
leaders in the non-for-profit organizations or somebody to recognize them in order the corruption to
be covered with honor. NFPO have been also used for gaining more power on faculty, for winning
grants for projects which may be not the best ones, etc.

How to turn the spiral up

How to turn the spiral of academic leadership to contribute only to the evolution of society? It is
easy, but such change requires strong, talented people who occupy places which they really desire.


Increasing the responsibility is the magic to change the color of the academic life – from dark toward
bright and enjoyable for everybody – for those who are in the academic life, and for those who
collaborate with the academic system.

It is impossible to continue for instance, the practice academic employees to get huge grants, to
provide bad results (including low quality publications) and they not to be responsible for the wasted
people’s money. Reports of the fund spending should be reviewed by qualified people and the
receivers of money should have legal contracts according to which they can be sued for non-
qualitative production or using the money for different goals. Public opinion matters and the
prosecutors have to have open eyes and the power to prosecute academic employees who misuse
people’s money.

S. Heyneman proposes the following sanctions for academic corruption:
      Criminal penalties for economic and professional misconduct;
      Public exposure;
      Dismissal from employment;
      Fines payable to the victim of professional misconduct;
      Withdrawal of license to practice (Heyneman, 2007, p. 6).

All these sanctions can be applied to emotional bullying through unreasonable rejections, slanders,
emotional abuse, peer victimization, creating fake values, corrupting values, etc.

Access for talented people

Increasing the access for talented people instead the current corrupted situation of hiring people
through connections will revolutionary change the society. We finally need intellectuals to get the
academic positions which will turn down the current university fortresses from inside – the
intellectuals search for freedom, culture, healthy moral, interactions, real values …

In particular, the online education will become the primary education in the near future, but
presumably not as it exists today – with invisible teachers. Intellectuals are able to bring the
innovations in the online education and to make themselves part of direct contact through live
conferences, online lectures, and workshops. While today an academician almost equals non-
intellectual, intellectualization of the academic system will bring light to increase the quality and
humanity of the academic system.


Increasing of the self-awareness of the academic employees will help to see changes in the way the
money has been spent and the education has been provided. The academic life is full with paradoxes
of culture because of absence of self-awareness. One can see three dozen of post-graduate
students at faculty where the chair does not have even one monograph. Adjunct professors have
been removed from faculties after becoming top world researchers and demonstrating better quality
than the faculties, etc.


Increasing of the mobility of the tenures also would assist the intellectualization since if there is a
mobility, there will be higher level competition and the positions will be occupied by real talents and
real (not made-up) professors. Today the academic employees are like McDonald’s employees –
universities/colleges are the top institutions with secure jobs – if you are in, nobody can remove you.

Mobility will help to get the right leaders in the chair’s positions, to get the best teachers for the
students and to get the best science (cp. Cruz-Castro & Sanz-Menendez, 2010). More than 5 years
on one faculty means a closed door for better scientists, better teachers, and better personalities.
Since there could be always better one, the academic employees should stop looking at themselves
as chosen by society successful leaders, but as people with a chance which they have to prove as a
real values for the goodness of society.

If mobility does not become the No.1 rule for all universities, it is unclear how down the devolution will
go since as everybody knows, Wall Street does not have a bottom.


Higher education is an achievement of human history, which today is one of the most expensive
segments of society. The academic products as a rule do not return the invested in them funds
(mostly government and non-for-profit). The salaries of the academic employees are higher than
many other segments, which have more valuable returns. There are substance segments which
require more care from the government than the academic since they are in a critical situation
because of the funds given to corrupted and non-valuable academic subsegments. Professors
become millionaire without any serious contribution just because reproduce one and the same
academic chair in one and the same university through a corruptive mechanism of selecting people
who will reproduce the human conditions which keep them on this chair. College leaders become
millionaire-leaders by changing the leadership chairs in one the same college/university through one
and the same people despite that the institution experiences a crisis.

Today global means ideally a society in which the people have been integrated to complement each
other to experience happiness. As a reality, more and more people have been experiencing
problems just because there are segments in society which require general adaptation to the global
principles of humanity.  One of them is the academic system of higher education on a global scale.



Conn, K. (2004).
Bullying and Harassment. A Legal Guide for Educators. USA: ASCD.

Cruz-Castro, L., & Sanz-Menendez, L. (2010). Mobility vs. Job Stability: Assessing tenure and
       productivity outcomes.
Research Policy, 39(1), 27-38.

Harris, M. J. (2009).
Bullying, Rejection, and Peer Victimization. New York, NY: Springer.

Heynemann, S. (2007). Buying your way into heaven: The corruption of educations in global
Perspectives on Global Issues, 2(1), 1-8.

Monks, C. P. & Coyne, I. (2011).
Bullying in Different Contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Randall, P. (1996).
Adult Bullying. Perpetrators and Victims. New York, NY: Routledge.

Schaad, M. P. C. (2000).
Bullying Bonn: Anglo-German Diplomacy on European Integration, 1955-
New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillion.

Temple, P., & Petrov, G. (2004). Corruption in higher education: some findings from the states of the
      former Soviet Union.
Higher education management and policy, 16(1), 83-100.

Washburn, J. (online, n.d.).
University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education. USA:
      Google e-book.


Списък на служители и сътрудници на държавна сигурност (online, n.d.).   
        Retrieved from