Yusef Waghid ~ Our Universities Must Be Centers Of Open Debate For Africa To Make Political Progress

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

To understand what an African philosophy of education is and why it’s so important, consider the role that universities should play in any society.

Universities, no matter where they are, ought to be places where knowledge is internalized, questioned and considered. Such knowledge should respond to a university’s particular social, political and economic context. The pursuit of such knowledge happens in a quest for human development. What would a university be if its only purpose was to produce knowledge without considering its effects on a society and its people?

But it’s perhaps precisely this disjuncture—between what universities purport to do and what happens in society—that starts to explain why knowledge in Africa has become so misplaced. This has happened in several Arab and Muslim states, where some universities have seemingly become reluctant to encourage critical learning. Knowledge produced in such universities does not attend to public concerns, whether these are political, economic, social or cultural.

Read more: http://qz.com/our-universities-must-be-centers

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Jonathan Gray & Stuart Lawson ~ It’s Time To Stand Up To Greedy Academic Publishers

MAHow should research travel from the notebooks, hard drives and laboratories of researchers to the desks of their peers? Who should get access? And who should pay?

Over the past few years, these deceptively simple questions have been beset with controversy. Librarians at some of the world’s wealthiest institutions have announced that they can no longer afford to purchase the materials their researchers need. Leading academics have organised boycotts, petitions and mass resignations to protest the combination of prohibitively high prices and profit margins that rival those of the big oil, pharmaceutical and technology firms. A recent paper found that just five multinational publishing conglomerates accounted for 50% of all papers published in 2013.

It may seem like an administrative afterthought, but the issue of how research is communicated in society raises questions that cut to the heart of what academics do, and what academia is about. The scale of the entanglement between academic research and big publishers may well lead us to ask: who is serving whom? Does our scholarly communication system put the needs of researchers first? Or does it prioritise the uninterrupted profitability of a handful of publishers?

Reda more: https://www.theguardian.com/why-academic-journals-expensive?

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Elizabeth Redden ~ Turkey’s Fraying International Ties

A crackdown on Turkey’s higher education sector is hurting international academic collaborations and student and scholar exchanges.

A joint statement signed by 42 American and European scholarly groups describes what’s happening in Turkey as a “massive and virtually unprecedented assault” on principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression and says “the crackdown on the education sector creates the appearance of a purge of those deemed inadequately loyal to the current government.”

Since a July 15 coup attempt, Turkey’s government has reportedly suspended, detained or placed under investigation tens of thousands of soldiers, police officers, judges, teachers and civil servants in a push to rid government and educational institutions of suspected followers of Fethullah Gülen, the Muslim cleric whom the Turkish government accuses of being behind the failed coup (Gülen has denied any involvement). It has ordered the closure of 15 universities and 1,043 private schools suspected of links to Gülen. The government has also reportedly detained academic staff, suspended four university rectors and demanded the resignation of all university deans, 1,577 of them. In a statement about the forced resignations, the Council of Higher Education described it as “a precautionary measure” and said it is “very likely” most universities will reinstate the deans after an investigation.

Read more: https://www.insidehighered.com/how-crackdown-turkey

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Peter Vale & Steven Karataglidis ~ Pressure To Publish Is Choking The Academic Profession

MAThe southern hemisphere’s cold weather is a certain signal that winter conference season is upon us.
In the coming weeks academics – from many disciplines – will be spending freezing nights in student dorms and days exchanging disciplinary gossip on the plight of the universities and on what is new in their chosen field.
But after these issues, the single most important conversation between them will be how to negotiate the regime of publication that pervades contemporary academic life not only in South Africa but across the world.

The obligation that academic staff must publish is invariably presented as a virtuous thing. It is right and proper for academics to expand and extend the boundaries of their respective disciplines by publishing in outlets, as approved by their peers.
Moreover, a public that is often sceptical of the usefulness of universities is often told that academics publish in “the public good”.

But if academic publishing is so significant in the profession, why is it that the young and talented in the academy increasingly resist it, calling it formulaic, at best, and, at worst, a sweatshop? And why is it that old academic hands are simply no longer interested in contributing to the peer-review system that is at the heart of the system and without which the standing of the entire industry will falter?

Read more: https://theconversation.com/pressure-to-publish

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Julie Gould ~ What’s The Point Of The PhD Thesis?

PhDOn the morning of Tom Marshall’s PhD defence, he put on the suit he had bought for the occasion and climbed onto the stage in front of a 50-strong audience, including his parents and 6 examiners. He gave a 15-minute-long presentation, then faced an hour of cross-examination about his past 5 years of neuroscience research at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. A lot was at stake: this oral examination would determine whether he passed or failed. “At the one-hour mark someone came in, banged a stick on the floor and said ‘hora est‘,” says Marshall — the ceremonial call that his time was up. “But I couldn’t. I had enjoyed the whole experience far too much, and ended up talking for a few extra minutes.”

Read more: http://www.nature.com/phd-thesis

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Eusebius Mckaiser ~ Epistemic Injustices: The Dark Side Of Academic Freedom.

Photo: radiobiz.co.za

Photo: radiobiz.co.za

Recalling dead white men with sincere gratitude
Many dead white men play an incredibly important role in my life. I can, without needing to waste one precious second on a superfluous grammatical pause, cite countless examples of these dead white men, and recall their continued presence in my life.

In the first few weeks of my first year of studies here at Rhodes University in 1997, I was introduced to the ideas of Plato, even if that introduction was mediated by a secondary text, Seven Theories of Human Nature, written by another white man, Leslie Stevenson, and taught to me by one of the most important not-dead white men I had met at Rhodes University, Francis Williamson, my very first philosophy lecturer.

Later, with the shortcuts of undergraduate philosophy studies behind me, I had to read and engage some of the primary writings of Plato, taught to me by another not-dead white man, Marius Vermaak, who was easily the most important and influential philosophy teacher I have had – ever – with all due respect to all the amazing white men in my philosophical life that I had encountered here at Rhodes University, and, later, during health-challenging winters of discontent, at that strange place called Oxford University.

Studying The Republic in my honours year of philosophy here at Rhodes challenged my intuitive commitment to a basic conception of democracy, and instilled in me an early conviction – and one that I only revised much later when I was less childish than a drunk student dancing on the tables at The Vic – that not all epistemic agents are to be trusted, let alone to be regarded as equally capable of being the leaders of a democratic society that could govern us in a manner conducive to serving the interests of all citizens, equally and maximally.

Read more: https://www.thedailyvox.co.za/eusebius-mckaiser

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