One of the persistent dream of the flat world thinkers is the making of a great global university. In fact, it is not just an ambition, but it is an essential part of the flat world thinking, for globalisation to succeed, the universality of a certain kind of aspiration, arguably a consumer aspiration, must be established first. Geography may have proved unassailable to the military experts and business planners, but educators, it was hoped, would become the flat world pioneers.
But, so far, it has failed to happen. The blame was squarely heaped on the various regulatory agencies that intend to maintain their own fiefdoms. However, the big reason really is that geography still matters. The global university may one day bring the flat world, but so far, the starting point of the university makers was the flat world, which is indeed a Western rhetoric than a global reality. The globalisation we have so far achieved is the globalisation of money, but not of people. Or, put in another way, we may have achieved globalisation of desperation, that people start feeling bad about themselves whatever they are, but are nowhere near the globalisation of aspiration. And, in this setting, global university projects have some huge barriers to scale.
I am conscious that the argument that we haven't achieved globalisation of aspiration may not sit well with those who sees the 'Chinese Dream' or 'Indian Dream' essentially as copies of the 'American Dream'. But, as I argue, the 'Indian Dream' (if it is possible to conceive any such thing, rather than the different 'Gujrati Dream', 'Tamil Dream' or 'Bengali Dream') may include the Aging Parents and all the extended family, and the 'Chinese Dream' may be to be accepted as valued member of the community, quite distinct from the American dream of a city life, nuclear family, a job and a car. And, indeed, the 'American Dream' may already be no more, as middle class life there vanishes, and the 'American Dream' thing is like a trademark without its contents.
Given this, Global University projects have a difficult starting point. Their assumption that everyone wants a similar education is fundamentally mistaken. Oftentimes, the silicon valley funded Change The World start-ups braved the area, and proved, instead of the solution, the problem: That global universities aren't feasible. In most cases, they have become finance organisations, instead of universities more like an education bank, such as Laureate, which bankrolls a global education empire based on its credit ratings at home and the value of the property portfolio abroad. The others have proved the case of what I shall call 'Global Desperation': The wanting of a fantastical rootlessness of a global paradise (defined by, using the slightly dated and politically incorrect reference points, with an American salary, a British home, a Chinese cook and a Japanese wife) which, in reality, may indeed appear as the global hell (using similarly indulgent parameters, with a Chinese salary, a Japanese home, a British cook and an American wife).
I ponder a lot about these limitations, as my work covered the full arc from enthusiasm about universality of aspirations to a realisation about the parochial nature of all institutions. The way I see it is that while the idealistic form of the university is constructed around internationalist ethic, that is only the rhetorical part of the project, superficial and insincere; the true driver behind global university projects is the expansionism of certain ideas and values of domination, a dynamic of power aimed at limiting the possibilities of target territories rather than unleashing them. In short, it is the creation of global desperation, rather than enabling the possibilities of people. In such form, the projects of global universities are essentially opposed to its own rhetoric, and based on the already failed faith in being able to fool all the people all the time.
The failure of most current projects to get traction is therefore good news: It should force a rethink of the ideas involved. That money does not necessarily ensure a flat world comes only when the money starts running out: Other issues, such as the nature of commitments, engagements with local values and ideas, the aspirations and motives of students, emerge in sharp relief only when the disco lights of global talk dimmed. I see many projects, as I mentioned earlier, which only prove the problem but are unable to provide a solution: The only solution they ended up providing is to settle for a multi-local form, usually around the clusters they are most comfortable, proclaiming the globality of their parochiality. I shall argue that these failures stem from inside, that while imagining global universities the founders usually rely on existing process based value chain forms, and fail to change their paradigm of university making into user network thinking (see my post on Universities as User Networks) and make a real humanitarian commitment. And, that indeed is my final argument, that the idea of global is essentially based on humanism, faith in some common human traits, not commonality of our race, religion, linguistic preference or consumption habits, but our values, beliefs, ideas of goodness and commitment to each other. The value-neutral global university, as it exists today, only exists as a clearing house of global power, as enticing a prospect but as temporal as its sponsor really is.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Nations are ideas. We try to fashion them as territories. But how can a river, a mountain ridge or sometimes an imaginary line in the middle of a field can explain the wide division in the lives, thoughts and futures of the people who live on different sides? Nations are not the people too. Indeed, people build nations and become its body. But the soul of the nation is an idea: People come together on an idea to build a nation. While that's what a modern nation is - an idea - and that way exceptionalism is not an American exception, very few nations are as completely defined by an idea as Pakistan. There was hardly any political, geographic or military rationale of Pakistan other than the idea of an Islamic homeland in South Asia. [In that way, the ideological brother of Pakistan in the family of nations is Israel] This, abated by the short term political calculations of some backroom colonialists, created a modern state which must be solely sustained on that singular idea. Religi
This post is a reaction to Aatish Taseer's evocative obituary of secular India in the Atlantic ( read here ). While I agree with it mostly - and share the reservations about the direction and the future of India - I differ with the author on one key aspect: I do not agree with his portrayal of a resurgent Bharat eating up a secular India. In fact, I believe while Mr Taseer regrets the Indian elite's loss of connection with the realities of day to day life of the country, his very presentation of Bharat and India as oppositional entities stems from that incomprehension. While I understand that he is only using these categories as RSS uses them - to effectively other the English-speaking elites and non-Hindus - I believe it is a mistake to describe the profound changes in contemporary India as the ascendance of Bharat. I grew up in Bharat. I never learnt English until late in life, when I started working. My growing-up world was one of small-town India, vernacu
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen was gui
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was, as
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
The story of British influence on Indian Education, to which Macaulay's Minutes of 1835 belong, has been told in six distinct phases. Syed Nurullah and J P Naik's very popular and influential History of Indian Education calls these 'six acts' of the drama: From the beginning of Eighteenth Century to 1813 The British East India Company received its charter in 1600 but its activities did not include any Educational engagement till the Charter Act of 1698, which required the Company to maintain priests and schools, for its own staff and their children. And, so it was until the renewal of its charter in 1813, when the evangelical influence led to insistence of expansion of educational activities and allowing priests back into company territory. From 1813 to Wood's Education Despatch of 1854 The renewal of Charter in 1813 re-opened the debate, which seemed to have been settled in the early years of the company administration, between the Orientalis
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.