Monday, 20 October 2014

The ends of university education

Nicholas Canny is a distinguished Irish historian who, in the tradition of DB Quinn and Nicholas Mansergh, has been willing to locate the processes of Irish history and Irish relations with England over the last 500 years within the frameworks of colonialism and empire.  Canny, a former head of the Royal Irish Academy, is well-placed to offer a reasoned liberal defence of humanistic university education in the Irish third-level system.  In a situation of shrunken state funding, political cowardice about requiring the Irish middle-class constructively to contribute to their children's university years, and a complete absence of thoughtful public debate about the purpose and strengths of our universities, such a defence is well-needed.  Here Canny reviews a book about the (even worse) situation in Britain, for the Dublin Review of Books:

The Utility of Inquiry

In most ways, the travails of the Irish or American university - bureaucrats colonising an ever-expanding administration, and corporate values encroaching on the proper purposes of research and teaching - seem, while unfortunate, mild in comparison to those of Palestinian universities, which are regularly attacked by the IDF in both Gaza and the West Bank, and which suffer greatly under the routines of Israeli occupation, with students and staff held up or sometimes attacked at checkpoints, campuses invaded, and infrastructure bombarded in the Strip.   But the question of Palestine and the neoliberalisation of the Western university sometimes coincide, to damaging effect.   Here is Joseph Massad (a true survivor of the post-9/11 assault on academic freedom in America), on this particular conjuncture - from Electronic Intifada:

Academic civility and its discontents



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