On Being a Student – When Lecturers Become Students

What IS  a student?

Seems an obvious answer to say somebody who participates in a programme of study.

For me the possible answers become many and complex if we reconsider such terms as ‘programme of study’.  Despite the long history of universities, surprisingly little academic study has been done on the nature of teaching and learning, and the attendant subjectivities of ‘lecturer’ and ‘student’, and even less on the nature of ‘curriculum’.

The problematic meaning of curriculum, and therefore learning and teaching in higher education are the focus of my current ‘teaching’.  Working on a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching & Learning in Higher Education this semester’s theme is Curriculum Design & Assessment.  We kicked off with a contribution from Dr Kelly Coate (King’s College, London) where she discussed, amongst other things, a framework for inquiring into curriculum. Continue reading

Advertisements

A Right To The World: On Syria and an Idea of International Public Order

This thoughtful and thought provoking piece can be seen as an invitation to those of us across academia to reflect carefully upon how our little worlds (our disciplinary and pedagogical concerns, our research and writing plans, our personal and organisational ambitions) relate to larger socio-political movements. In particular I feel it invites us to de-parochaliase our concerns, and to understand the intimate interconnected nature of the world – that my preparations for teaching on Monday afternoon has some connection to the framing of ‘international concern’ over Syria, over Africa. The challenge for me is to figure out how that realisation can be manifest in my daily practice as an academic. Read and enjoy.

The Disorder Of Things

P1 aniang

A guest post from Amy Niang on the contours of ‘international community’, following previous interventions from Siba Grovogui in relation to Libya, Robbie on provinciality in International Relations and John M. Hobson et al. on Eurocentrism in international political theory. Amy teaches international relations at the University of the Witwatersrand and she is affiliated with the Centre of Africa’s International Relations (CAIR). She gained her PhD from the University of Edinburgh in 2011. She has taught International Relations, political theory and African history in South Africa, Scotland and Japan. Her research interests are in the history of state formation, political theory and Africa’s international relations, and she has commented regularly on democracy, civil society and Western intervention in Africa.


The Syria crisis has sparked many debates in scholarly and media circles, not least around the way in which the ‘international community’ should exercise its responsibility to Syrians and to…

View original post 2,997 more words

The Absence of Social Democracy

Dublin's Poverty 1913

Dublin’s Poverty 1913

So here I am, at the beginning of new (christian era) year, and a NEW JOB.

I am excited.  But also INTRIGUED in a not so positive way.  Intrigued because although I am very familiar with the social, cultural and political life of Ireland (indeed I have lived here with my family for the past 8 years and come from an Irish family) I am moving from having worked in English universities since 1997 to a new post in an Irish university.

The change will see all the usual anxieties of starting a new job in a new town.  But there is another, more philosophical concern that has been rising in me for a number of weeks – THE ABSENCE OF A CULTURE OF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY.

Sure, we have Ireland’s most prominent and brilliant social democrat as President (see his talk on the 1913 Dublin lockout).  But, as his talk on the lockout demonstrates, Ireland stands out from most other Western European countries in never having had a strong social democratic movement.  Unlike most of its European neighbours Ireland’s politics has been characterised by nationalist populism.  Both main governing parties are populist right of centre ideologically, both born out of Irelands terrible civil war following the war of independence from Britain.  The distinction between the two main parties is not rooted in social structure in the way that is common elsewhere in Europe.

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Whereas in Britain debates about widening participation in higher education are couched in social democratic terms, in Ireland, though there is some similarity in policy language, as we know from discussions of ‘policy borrowing’, this is translated in terms of the populist ideological landscape. Widening participation as social inclusion is often framed in terms of inclusion in the wider national body, even if reference is made to social disadvantage.

Am I going too far in my analysis and concern?

love-is-love-source-1024x756

Well. I was listening to a popular phone in radio show this afternoon (Mooney’s show on RTE 1) where there was discussion about the absence of explicit reference to Christianity and Christmas in the President’s recent address.  One reaction that came through strongly from what appeared to be an organised phone-in campaign was that the Irish Labour Party was attempting to socially engineer a secular country through promoting gay marriage and undermining the Catholic culture of the nation.  In hearing  this I was minded of what Michael D Higgins (the President of Ireland) noted of Catholic responses to the labour movement defence of the locked out workers as being ‘godless’ socialists in language reminiscent of the most outrageous Tea Party shock-jocks.

This is not just an institutional move.  It is also an ideological move.

I may need to reflect further on this experience.

Dude, Where’s The Race in Your Class Analysis of HigherEd?

This is an excellent post on the absent presence of race in discussion son the contemporary political economy of higher education.

tressiemc

A key status marker of any profession is engagement in fights about the state of said profession. For the past few weeks a particularly public fight about adjuncts and academia has been waged across blogs, online media and social media. I do not want to jump into that debate. I do not have a dog in the fight, really. It could be fairly argued that I am not even really in the profession. My membership is more contingent than contingent labor, in many ways. And I do not have much to add to these debates so I have largely shut up.

I wanted to shut up this morning when a post from a well-known academic consultant went live. The post is titled, “How the Tenured are to the Job Market as White People are to Racism.” I know a bit about racism and a little about the structure of higher…

View original post 1,047 more words