Posts Tagged ‘cash rules everything around me’

Posted: October 21, 2019 in Academy, News, Politics, Research, Teaching
Tags:

The International Australian Studies Association (InASA) is writing in response to recent press reports of the discontinuation of the Chair of Australian Literature at University of Sydney unless philanthropic funding is forthcoming (SMH 15/10/2019; The Australian 16/10/19). InASA urges immediate reconsideration of this course of action on numerous grounds.

At a time when tensions are particularly acute between national interests and global politics—particularly on University campuses in teaching and research—in-depth and specialised expertise of Australian culture in both its distinctiveness and its global connections is essential to provide knowledge and leadership to the public, students, and government. Australian literature, understood as part of an expanded public sphere and cultural industry, makes an enormous contribution to Australia’s self-image and to our international profile. Leading writers all contribute to a range of topical issues and debates through different perspectives and from different positions. The study of Australian literature amplifies such writers’ voices and provides a stage for their contribution to intellectual thought. Professor Robert Dixon’s leadership in the Sydney Studies in Australian Literature book series, enabled by his role as the University Chair, is an excellent example of this.

There are now thirty-eight “Australian Studies Centres” in China, and many Chinese academics have trained in Australian literature and participate in Australia’s extension of influence and “soft power” in the Asia- Pacific region. This is also evident in the Australia-Japan Foundation Chair in Australian Studies at the University of Tokyo (regularly held by Australian literature specialists).

Humanities and Social Sciences in Australian universities face new challenges, with philanthropic funding being marketed as a panacea for disinvestment by university administrations and federal governments led by ill-informed and instrumentalist agendas. It is particularly disappointing to see the University of Sydney proposing to outsource its core business in this way, given the strong stance taken by many academics there questioning the potential for philanthropic funding to infringe upon academic freedom.

Finally, the announcement of the disinvestment in Australian Literature comes only months after the Parliament of Australia called an “Inquiry into nationhood, national identity and democracy”. The Chair of Australian Literature at the University of Sydney has long played a national role in precisely the issues raised as under threat by the Senate’s inquiry, and it is extremely unfortunate that the University of Sydney does not consider literature to have a future role in such critical concerns.

We strongly urge the University of Sydney to reconsider its position and to support the ongoing funding of the University of Sydney Chair in Australian Literature.

 

 

InASA

Posted: December 17, 2018 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

‘Transformative degree to examine intellectual foundations of Western civilisation’

Posted: July 28, 2018 in Academy
Tags: ,

I don’t need money to do research.

Now, matters are such that German universities, especially the small universities, are engaged in a most ridiculous competition for enrollments. The landlords of rooming houses in university cities celebrate the advent of the thousandth student by a festival, and they would love to celebrate Number Two Thousand by a torchlight procession. The interest in fees – and one should openly admit it – is affected by appointments in the neighboring fields that ‘draw crowds.’ And quite apart from this, the number of students enrolled is a test of qualification, which may be grasped in terms of numbers, whereas the qualification for scholarship is imponderable and, precisely with audacious innovators, often debatable – that is only natural. Almost everybody thus is affected by the suggestion of the immeasurable blessing and value of large enrollments. To say of a docent that he is a poor teacher is usually to pronounce an academic sentence of death, even if he is the foremost scholar in the world. And the question whether he is a good or a poor teacher is answered by the enrollments with which the students condescendingly honor him.

It is a fact that whether or not the students flock to a teacher is determined in large measure, larger than one would believe possible, by purely external things: temperament and even the inflection of his voice. After rather extensive experience and sober reflection, I have a deep distrust of courses that draw crowds, however unavoidable they may be. Democracy should be used only where it is in place. Scientific training, as we are held to practice it in accordance with the tradition of German universities, is the affair of an intellectual aristocracy, and we should not hide this from ourselves. To be sure, it is true that to present scientific problems in such a manner that an untutored but receptive mind can understand them and – what for us is alone decisive – can come to think about them independently is perhaps the most difficult pedagogical task of all. But whether this task is or is not realized is not decided by enrollment figures.

Weber, in 1918.

In M. Weber, H. Gerth, & C. W. Mills (Eds.), From Max Weber. New York: Oxford University Press: 133-134.

There are no good academics in the EU.

Posted: December 8, 2014 in Academy
Tags: ,

Publish and perish at Imperial College London