Ewald Engelen, Rodrigo Fernandez & Reijer Hendrikse – How Finance Penetrates Its Other: A Cautionary Tale On The Financialization Of A Dutch University

Antipode. March 26, 2014. If any organization ought to be immune to the forces of financialization, it is a publicly funded university in corporatist Europe. Shielded from the intrusion by financial metrics, values and professionals through a strong historically rooted tradition of self-management by powerful professional guilds, continental universities should largely have avoided the marketization and managerialization of Anglophone universities. Not so, this case study of a Dutch public university suggests. From 1995 onwards, a shift in real estate management—devolving responsibilities from the Dutch state to universities—served as a Trojan horse for financialization, triggering changes in organizational culture and a power shift from teaching and research professionals to accountants, real-estate developers, financiers and their ilk. This case suggests that the power of finance is such that no societal domain is immune. The paper ends with a call for more non-metropolitan case studies of financialization and argues that the only hope for salvation is a more self-conscious defense of traditional academic values by the guardians of higher learning themselves.

Read more: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/anti.12086/abstract

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Mora McLagan – The Mukuru Slum: A Lesson In Inequality

Oxfam-Mukuru-Cleanup-300x169May 2014. Like most of Oxfam’s supporters, two months ago you could have said the words ‘international development’ or ‘aid’ to me and I would have pictured rural, not urban communities. But while the bulk of Oxfam’s work overseas is still focused on poverty in rural areas, a slow shift is now taking place, some might argue too slowly.
The face of global poverty is changing rapidly.  Poverty is now growing faster in urban rather than rural areas.  UN Habitat estimates that by 2030 about 3 billion people, or about 40 per cent of the world’s population will need proper housing and access to basic infrastructure like water and sanitation systems. To achieve this, we’d need to build 96,150 new housing units per day on serviced and documented land starting right now.
But as an aid agency, what do we do in the meantime? With this question in mind, last month I was in Nairobi, Kenya to visit Mukuru slum and learn about one way Oxfam is responding, through a brilliant new sanitation project in schools with local partner Sanergy.

Read more: http://policy-practice.oxfam.org.uk/mukuru-slum-a-lesson-in-inequality

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Stuart Theobald – On The Money: Lending Trends Could Yet Make Home Ownership A Political Issue

bdlive.co.za. May 26, 2014. THE trend in lending patterns in the banking industry is damaging the transformation of the South African economy, particularly when it comes to home ownership.
Since 2008, when banks were hit by bad debt, home loans have become more expensive and are provided at lower loan-to-value ratios. So whereas pre-2008 home buyers could obtain 110% loans at 2% below prime, now borrowers tend to be granted loans priced at a premium to prime, and at loan-to-value ratios of 80%.
To find the extra cash to fund the value of their purchase, plus the transaction costs, borrowers are taking large unsecured loans. As I’ve argued in this column before, the actual cost of credit for the post-2008 home buyer has increased substantially — by my calculations monthly repayments for home finance, at least until the unsecured portion has been paid off, have more than doubled. A R500,000 house could be funded with monthly payments of about R4,000 — now the same house, financed with a mix of higher priced mortgage and unsecured loan, costs more than R8,000.

Read more: http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/columnists/2014/05/26/on-the-money-lending-trends-could-yet-make-home-ownership-a-political-issue

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Tarak Barkawi – The Neoliberal Assault On Academia

April 2013. The New York Times, Slate and Al Jazeera have recently drawn attention to the adjunctification of the professoriate in the US. Only 24 per cent of the academic workforce are now tenured or tenure-track.
Much of the coverage has focused on the sub-poverty wages of adjunct faculty, their lack of job security and the growing legions of unemployed and under-employed PhDs. Elsewhere, the focus has been on web-based learning and the massive open online courses, with some commentators celebrating and others lamenting their arrival.
The two developments are not unrelated. Harvard recently asked its alumni to volunteer their time as “online mentors” and “discussion group managers” for an online course. Fewer professors and fewer qualified – or even paid – teaching assistants will be required in higher education’s New Order.

Lost amid the fetishisation of information technology and the pathos of the struggle over proper working conditions for adjunct faculty is the deeper crisis of the academic profession occasioned by neoliberalism. This crisis is connected to the economics of higher education but it is not primarily about that.
The neoliberal sacking of the universities runs much deeper than tuition fee hikes and budget cuts.

Thatcherite budget-cutting exercise
The professions are in part defined by the fact that they are self-governing and self-regulating. For many years now, the professoriate has not only been ceding power to a neoliberal managerial class, but has in many cases been actively collaborating with it.

Read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion

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Tijdmachineproject biedt ouderen een verfrissende duik in het verleden

Het mahoniehouten wandkastje met daarop een tikkende pendule, een felrode pick-up met LP’s van Elvis en de Beatles, een grote vingerplant ernaast, kranten van een halve eeuw geleden en aan de wand foto’s van oud-Amsterdam, maar ook van nozems en hippies die voor opschudding zorgden. Een speciale huiskamer in woonzorgcentrum Venser in het stadsdeel Zuidoost in Amsterdam brengt de bezoekers als een tijdmachine in de jaren zestig. Bewoners en bezoekers van dit zorgcentrum kunnen er herinneringen ophalen uit de tijd dat ze nog in de kracht van hun leven waren. Het initiatief komt van de stichting De Tijdmachine Amsterdam. Vrijwilligers trekken de komende tijd met dit project langs meerdere zorgcentra van de zorgorganisatie Amstelring. Het idee er achter is dat ze met een duik in het verleden ouderen bereiken die moeite hebben om mee te doen of zijn begonnen met dementeren. Het decor van deze jaren zestig huiskamer stimuleert de bezoekers om gesprekken met anderen aan te knopen, in gesprek raken over hun jonge jaren, gebeurtenissen uit hun jeugd naar boven te halen en interesses op het spoor te komen waar ze in het zorgcentrum misschien op aan kunnen sluiten.

Hier de website van het project: www.stichtingdetijdmachine.nl
En een sfeerverslag van de start van het project bij zorgcentrum de Venser: http://vimeo.com/94943226

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International Student Initiative For Pluralism In Economics

comic1It is not only the world economy that is in crisis. The teaching of economics is in crisis too, and this crisis has consequences far beyond the university walls. What is taught shapes the minds of the next generation of policymakers, and therefore shapes the societies we live in. We, 42 associations of economics students from 19 different countries, believe it is time to reconsider the way economics is taught. We are dissatisfied with the dramatic narrowing of the curriculum that has taken place over the last couple of decades. This lack of intellectual diversity does not only restrain education and research. It limits our ability to contend with the multidimensional challenges of the 21st century – from financial stability, to food security and climate change. The real world should be brought back into the classroom, as well as debate and a pluralism of theories and methods. This will help renew the discipline and ultimately create a space in which solutions to society’s problems can be generated.

United across borders, we call for a change of course. We do not claim to have the perfect answer, but we have no doubt that economics students will profit from exposure to different perspectives and ideas. Pluralism could not only help to fertilize teaching and research and reinvigorate the discipline. Rather, pluralism carries the promise to bring economics back into the service of society. Three forms of pluralism must be at the core of curricula: theoretical, methodological and interdisciplinary.

Read more: http://www.isipe.net/open-letter/

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