Machines I want

Now, isn't this frustrating. After a hard day's work, putting all effort in converting my thoughts to text, I read this: Philip M Parker is the world's fastest book author, and given that he has been at it only for about five years and already has more than 85,000 books to his name, he is also probably the most prolific. Parker himself says the total is well over 200,000. So how does Philip M Parker (professor of innovation, business and society at Insead in France) do all that? When he turns to a…Read more …

Student protests and the rise and fall of Suharto

At the age of 86, Suharto, the former president of the republic of Indonesia has died. Suharto has been in Pertamina hospital since the 4th of January and passed away today at 1.10 PM local time. A week ago, University World News published an article I wrote on the role of student protests in the rise and fall of Suharto. Here is a slightly revised version of the article. For most, Suharto's name is inextricably connected with corruption, collusion and nepotism. Only few will remember him as Bapak Pembangunan (the father of development,…Read more …

A Teacher Certificate for New Academics?

Some more interesting news from the Netherlands. According to an article in Dutch newspaper the Volkskrant, new teachers at Dutch universities will need to get a teaching certificate. All universities will require starting assistant professors/lecturers to get such a certificate within a few years from the start of their position. At one university - that already used a similar system - early career academics spend around 260 hours for the teacher training. I'm happy with the attention given to teaching, especially because of the current over-emphasis on research (because it is easily quantifiable…Read more …

Authoritarianism or Participation? That’s the Question!

Is China proving that developing countries are better off under an authoritarian regime that focuses on developing the economy, rather than under a democratic regime that gives emphasis to political participation? It's the question posed by Randall Peerenboom from UCLA in his new book China Modernizes: Threat to the West or Model for the Rest? He tries to answer the question by exploring China's economy, its political and legal system, and its record on civil, political and personal rights. Peerenboom's answer is "yes". At the forum of the Far Eastern Economic Review, Nicholas…Read more …

Is Academic Freedom as Precious as it is Believed to Be?

This weeks' edition of University World News has a special on academic freedom. Most of the European coverage in this edition is based on a recent article in the journal Higher Education Policy: Academic Freedom in Europe: A Preliminary Comparative Analysis by Terence Karran. The outcomes of the article raise interesting questions. Not just on the different levels of academic freedom in different countries, but also about the nature of academic freedom and its value. On the basis of comparative data from 23 states within the European Union, the article concludes that academic…Read more …

W-E-B links for Today: Globalisation

What did the internets bring me today? A lot of globalisation... The World and globalisation - Globalisation is globalising. A site by Axel Dreher of the ETH Zurich containing lots of data on economic, social and political globalisation: the KOF index of globalisation. Education & globalisation - There are many many definitions of globalisation and this is the one taught in French textbooks: "globalisation implies subjugation of the world to the market, which constitutes a real cultural danger". Stefan Theil in Foreign Policy on bias and indoctrination in German and French economics textbooks.…Read more …

Iranian students, international security & academic freedom

After 9/11 the number of international students in the US dropped considerably due stricter visa requirements and security regulations. Just now that the US is relaxing the regulations, the Netherlands seems to become more restrictive towards international students, at least those from specific countries. My former university - the University of Twente - this week announced that they had rejected a number of Iranian students and that they will not be able to process new applications from Iranian students. Is the University of Twente (UT) getting paranoid? No! They are acting according to…Read more …

W-E-B links for Today: US Elections

What did the internets bring me today? A lot of presidential hopefuls. The World & the US elections - Alan S. Blinder analyses whether Americans are ready to stop the world and shut out reality: among Democrats, this may manifest itself in attitudes toward international trade that range from lukewarm support to outright hostility. Among Republicans, it shows up in attitudes toward immigration - and most things foreign - that border on xenophobia. Education & the US elections - Barack Obama, the winner of last week’s Democratic caucuses in Iowa was a favorite…Read more …