self-degrading academia

I am wondering … – if I should be wondering … – on different occasions I used the blog to describe issues from the academic world, and to reflect upon it. A kind of ‘series” looked into writing references for students and the way universities acted as business: externalize work, disrespect interest of students in learning and look how they fit into prepared boxes – if I am not mistaken this is the latest, and there are several links from there to earlier musings. Well, may be THIS PRESENT one will be the latest, a mail I received – a joke, SPAM, sent by mistake …? In any case hugely disappointing suggesting that to “meet industry expectations” is the primary and outspoken goal of a supposedly academic institution. Annoying to see that they abuse colleagues’ references as point of departure for SPAM-campaigns, looking for support. To be clear, I supported a student’s application – I definitely did not support the university’s programme In actual fact I discussed in several cases with students their choice, trying to make them aware of their steps, Faustian dimension which is not changed by the devil’s new clothes: blank business interest.

Here the SPAM letter:

Dear Peter,

Thank you very much for serving as a referee and sending us the reference form for one of our candidates who applied to the Master of Science in Business Analytics [MSc(BA)] programme at The University of Hong Kong this year.

We sincerely appreciate the time you spent and the comments you provided to support the candidate’s application, which are critical for us to evaluate and select students who can best fit our programme.

Our programme office will continue to fully support the programme with the aim to meet industry expectations, maximise our resources, and enhance students’ experience. We would greatly appreciate for your continued support to the MSc(BA) programme. If you know anyone who may be interested in postgraduate education in business analytics, you can ask them to reach out to our team or learn more about our programme at our official website.

Thank you again for your support to HKU Msc(BA) programme.

Best Regards,

HsiaoPHui Lee (Dr.)  Programme Director Master of Science in Business Analytics The University of Hong Kong

Copyright © 2017  School of Business, The University of Hong Kong

Our address is  Room 304, Block B, Cyberport 4, 100 Cyberport Road, Hong Kong, China

If you do not wish to receive future email, click here.

A disgrace, indeed ….

Annunci

time … appreciation …. value of values

… or
How academia today undermines knowledge and beauty.
“In his youth Albert Einstein spent a year loafing aimlessly. You don’t get anywhere by not ‘wasting’ time – something, unfortunately, which the parents of teenagers tend frequently to forget. He was in Pavia. He had joined his family having abandoned his studies in Germany, unable to endure the rigours of his high school there. It was the beginning of the twentieth century, and in Italy the beginning of its industrial revolution. His father, an engineer, was installing the first electrical power plants in the Paduan plains. Albert was reading Kant and attending occasional lectures at the University of Pavia: for pleasure, without being registered there or having to think about exams. It is thus that serious scientists are made.”
….
“Finally, in November 1915, he committed to print an article giving the complete solution: a new theory of gravity, which he called ‘The General Theory of Relativity’, his masterpiece and the ‘most beautiful of theories’, according to the great Russian physicist Lev Landau.
There are absolute masterpieces which move us intensely: Mozart’s Requiem; Homer’s Odyssey; the Sistine Chapel; King Lear. To fully appreciate their brilliance may require a long apprenticeship, but the reward is sheer beauty – and not only this, but the opening of our eyes to a new perspective upon the world. Einstein’s jewel, the general theory of relativity, is a masterpiece of this order.”
From Carlo Rovelli. “Seven Brief Lessons on Physics” – with regards to those who have a huge share of responsibility for irresponsibility

elementary knowledge for university admin staff

OPEN LETTER

I regret and feel very sorry: I would have expected that staff working in academic institutions – while we are writing the date of

Il giorno 20/mar/2018, alle ore 04:54,

apparently have to write

• Email submissions: We regret we are unable to accept references emailed to us

It is all about elementary knowledge, back to the real blackboard

Yes, I would have presumed the ability to deal with simple information technologies instead of uploading the burden on academics who surely have other and better things to do.

It is a commonly known problem though: specifically qualified staff not knowing about basics.
Feel free to contact one of my former students – they are surely most obliging and willing to help – and they do not even charge you such tremendous fees as universities like yours do. — I know, reading such things is frightening – as everything ugly is frightening if we see it in a mirror, feeling helpless especially if we are aware that we are acting as string puppets, being danced [yes, I hope for you that you don’t feel as dancer yourself] on others who are even weaker. – In any case, if YOU do not read it others will.
Positive thinking allows me to say that you fortunately are yourself worried about the low standards — otherwise you would not regret.
My recommendation: have a look if Warwick university offers offers some courses like
* basic IT-skills
* the problems of externalisation of cost: they multiplay and at some stage they return to the originator.
More positive thinking even: some universities came back to me, asked for apologies and promised changes. Unfortunately, after they asked for help and advice, they turned down my offer to support them further for a minor fee.
Sincerely worried – poor souls you are, a long way to academic standards [well, you remember E.P. Thompson? Top academics like him had been forced out …, history does to repeat, but lack of honesty and commitment apparently does …
Peter Herrmann
PS: Surprising for me is that a huge number of colleagues – students, administrators, academics – and surely most of the common people, using their common sense do agree .. and swallow.

Squalidness of a System – Gravediggers of Dreams – Murderers of Humanism

… which is all a continuation of the entries on boxing and the attempt to open the box and various other blogposts and you may have a look at
Sure, one may say it is not a great deal, all the advantages of the digital world will of course also be there to make universities a better world and even help to open the doors to these still somewhat sacred halls of humanism, Western education strongly claiming this tradition as still guiding principle, proudly showing the two Humboldt’s, sitting in front of the main building
[https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Wilhelm_von_Humboldt_Denkmal_-_Humboldt_Universität_zu_Berlin.jpg]
[https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Datei:Alexander_von_Humboldt_Denkmal_-_Humboldt_Universität_zu_Berlin.jpg]
Admittedly – oh vanity – it had been an delightfully exhilarating feeling when entering the building for [one of?] my first public presentations, passing the busts and insignia of the many ‘great forefather’ – and the few mothers mentioned. Being able to say ‘my forefathers’ allowed me to redefine my strange orphanage, knowing that it was indeed about moving on and moving up and stumbling through the academic world – witnessing and being part ….
Indeed, the baby can remain alive while occasionally the bathing water has to be changed. The problem, however, begins as soon as the new water proves to be poisoned.
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Warwick University is amongst quite a number that deserve being ‘reported’ as institutions boxing humans – and I will later return to this  case. Others are e.g. Brook [Canada], CUHK [HongKong], LSE [London], Oxford U and some UCL [somewhere on the island of independence-dreamers], being sufficiently arrogant to assume that everybody has to know who UCL is [actually it is possible to find out who is hiding behind the three letters: it is not Université catholique de Louvain, not the UEFA Champions League, Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research … [interesting to see the differences in search engine results, depending on the location from which you search], but it is University College London – sure, symptomatically, being at such a UCL people begin to think like a puddle [see also here for the entire text about the Salmon of Doubt]: there is only one UCL – it is like the puddle being the entire world, only made for you], are part of the experience of disrespect and a ‘special kind of illiteracy’ which may well go as culprit to court at some stage – though for me the [il]legal side is only a wee part of a story that shows the squalidness which higher education reached.
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Now coming back to it: Talking about Warwick University means talking about one amongst many, denouncing one as example for a systematic defect. But it also means that it has some especially bitter taste as the history should have taught some wisdom.
Warwick is one of the universities founded during the times of a spirit of change: the forerunner, shock and also aftermath of the so-called 68-movement – forerunners, shock and aftermath also in a positive sense of taking up the need of investing in education, and understanding education as part of …, well not necessarily a revolutionary movement, but an emancipative strive in the spirit of the bourgeois enlightenment for which names like Kant and Humboldt and, yes also Mill and Smith stood. However
And at some this this culminated and
At stake was
And with this it was already at an early stage clear that the entire enterprise was concerned with a shift of understanding of subject matters, i.e. the self-uderstanding of disciplines. Here it changed for instance lets say from economics to ‘Management Science’.
Of course – and Andrew McGettigan makes us aware of it – this has to be seen against the background of the changing economic situation in Britain at the time – though it hadn’t been Britain alone.
It is an often forgotten factor, unfortunately – as seeing this context may help us to understand the moves today, for instance looking at the ‘Eon Energy Research Center’ in Aachen, Germany or the more or less recent ‘donation’ of twenty professorships: the technical university in Munich receives these from the discounter Lidl.
Much more could be said, also that Foundations [the professorships are provided by the Lidl-Foundation, not directly Lidl] are a kind of money-laundry-undertakings, other cases could be mentioned — mind snatchers are under way, even resulting in more or less funny …, perhaps Freudian slips? Briefly retuning to Warwick, we read that
Yes, God save the Queen and long live there multiple heirs. And though I recently looked into kind of shocked eyes when I mentioned the personal experience of the 1972 Anti-Radical Decree [oh, if official documents are looked at …and if some others are considered].
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Back to the presence and the bad habits and style when it comes to dealign with applicants and referees – again:

  • Students, naming referees, are asked to provide ‘institutional e-mail addresses’ – Shouldn’t a university that claims to be international and global accept that lecturers are international and global, sometimes not able to maintain mail addresses from previous positions, sometimes just making life a bit easier using onky one ‘private’ mail address instead of permanently changing and/or checking various addresses?
  • Mails sent out  to the institutional address are sent in completely automated fashion or at least the responses are not checked. Concrete: for my part I set up an auto-reply, informing the sender that the mail address they used is rarely checked and asking them to use another contact address. What happens? Nothing. The keen interest of students to get their application properly lodged and also the right of lecturers to be available in a self-defined way are not respected – even the self-respect of the universities diminished to the extent that they reduce themselves to illiterate, at most semi-literate machines.
  • This is completed then by the expected formats of references: a questionnaire any person who is at least a little bit qualified in data analysis [not to speak of common sense] would immediately see as inappropriate, lacking meaning and not allowing gaining any insight it the student’s ability. Personal questions about the referee that breach protection of privacy and are completely irrelevant …
    – Of course, the entire procedure may [and should] be questioned and there is the need to find better ways. But leaving this aside, it may deserve some further reflection: Should a questionable procedure, a matter that is extremely difficult to be answered, be followed up by further sub-standardising the way of dealing with it?
  • Useful, then, would be to to protect referees against being bombarded by advertisement from those universities, offering the referee to apply for a graduate course … — so, apparently undergrads can act as referee??
End Administrative infantilisation – Please stop it
Artificial intelligence … – I am more concerned about artificial stupidity – but then again, it is certainly true that computers, also intelligent systems, are just doing what they are told do by humans: in other words there is no artificial stupidity, even if messages are from academic systems, we should not blame those algorithms. And one may summarise, saying that algorithmisation, further administration and infantilisation are very much different forms of incapacitation.
Other things may be added, different combinations can be found – the bottom line: human issues are dehumanised and passed on to systems that are completely lacking empathy, and do not even show some basic mindfulness and respect of the values the system they supposedly represent, claims as guiding. Simple: If a university claims to reflect and pursue the values of humanism in the truest sense, the same university should make sure that the instruments and tools, used by its departments work by applying and supporting these values.
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Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse – Plutarco
The other day I talked with a colleague about all these developments in academia, she commented: ‘And we all accept it.’ I think it is really one of the problems, may be we get up, oppose on small items individually, may be even as small or large groups but at the end of the day  … – how can a system be changed, if changes are not approached on the system level, and systematically. Well, those who try have to pay. Those who have the say, always find a way. It is not least about  ‘squeezing more into less’.
To sum up, it is about universities and their development from academic educational settings to slaves of business further to administered systems, now to IT-led information providers.
Of course, the ‘old Bologna’ was also about business – and there Polanyi comes in: business was controlled by society – sure, we should not forget that it was a more or less rotten feudal society … And society itself is today actually often a stupid bubble economy, only leaving some small niches, suggesting real life is about withdrawing, looking for individual escapes … .
So, there you see me back, unsettled, opposing the temptation of a navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse as already criticised by Plutarch. I just want to live, and I want for everybody the right to do exactly that. That is surely different  from permanently steering, moving from one emergency patch to another. And for the educational system it was already said by Alfred Marshall, thus even on the conservative side, stating

The schoolmaster must learn that his main duty is not to impart knowledge, for a few shillings will buy more printed knowledge than a man’s brain can hold. It is to educate character, faculties and activities; so that the children even of those parents who are not thoughtful themselves, may have a better chance of being trained up to become thoughtful parents of the next generation. To this end public money must flow freely. And it must flow freely to provide fresh air
and space for wholesome play for the children in all working class quarters. 

And we should never forget: at the end we are all complying! Nolens volens? Being algorithmicised, further administering life instead of living it or being infantilised – as long as we are not ready to stand up collectively and speak out loudly.

Sorrows of Young Werther – not only

It had not been just the young Werther plagued by sorrows, and among the many concerned are academics – some old, some young; some knowing, some innocent; some forced and some voluntarily … .

[scan from: Johann Wolfgang Goethe, Faust – Der Tragödie Erster Teil, mit Illustrationen aus drei Jahrhunderten, ed. by Hans Hanning, Berlin: Rütting & Loening, 1982, 2nd ed., p. 123
Teufelspakt_Faust-Mephisto, by Julius Nisle]

All this is by no means new, the fine-tuning changed while the symphony itself is still the old lyre …

Career settings – career is a nice word actually: ‘a person really made a career’, we say it is somebody reached ‘high ranks’, and to get to the heights one has to make a career, i.e. move along a given path. Going back to Latin and Italian it is about the via cararia – the carriage road, the path on and along which the car – carrus – chariot moves. And it is about carrying, of course.

A brief outline then, if one gets an important part of the picture – surely not the complete one:

First step, getting the weight that needs to be carried – well prepared, and well wrapped:

Influence and manipulation in Teaching Economics – Backgrounds and Examples[1]

– There is at least an abstract in English language – and there is also an article on the topic[2]

Next step, prostitution[3] – it is not about what one says but how and where one says something.

And mind, see the progress: from the wrapped being presented, it is now about oneself, the young academic, wrapping.

Well, the end of the career? For some … the eternal wrappers, stepping higher and higher, the chariot being increasingly beautiful, the golden grids appearing as louvre – is it by accident that this is also the name of the great galleries in Paris?

For others the story ends …, well one may say Wertherian, i.e. by suicide – the way that social science goes too often[4] – actually the other side of prostitution – or its other side.

And indeed, there is some cunning of reason in the fact that this obituary on the academic freedom is published in a journal with access-by-payment-only … – Well, the Goethe, in his Faust, was clearer than Hegel with his hope for the cunning of reason, writing

To nonsense reason turns,

and benefit to worry.

And we basically have to fail if we maintain reasoning by simple reason, accepting that we are not quantum mechanic beings but real ones.

And still, exactly therefore we have to look where and how exactly the cat moves – accepting also that it cannot be understood if we use those concepts that are hidden behind the eclipsed reason.

Sure, some leave the wrapping post and move on as rapper – against the rapists.

The answer history will give ????   – well, it may be that you have to go for it

******

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[1]            Silja Graupe: Beeinflussung und Manipulation in der ökonomischen Bildung Hintergründe und Beispiele; Duesseldorf: FGW – Forschungsinstitut für gesellschaftliche Weiterentwicklung e.V.

[2]            Silja Graupe. The Power of Ideas. The Teaching of Economics and its Image of Man; in: Volume 11, Number 2, © JSSE 2012 ISSN 1618-5293

[3]            Frey: PUBLISHING AS PROSTITUTION? Choosing Between One’s Own Ideas and Academic Failure; http://www.econ.uzh.ch/static/wp_iew/iewwp117.pdf

[4]            Holmquist, Carin and Sundin, Elisabeth(2010) ‘The suicide of the social sciences: causes and effects’, Innovation: The European Journal of Social Science Research, 23: 1, 13 — 23

‘BEING ECONOMIST’ – AN INTERVIEW

[to the recording]

[see also here for some reflections on academic work]

Peter Herrmann教授,班戈学院金融学专业教师

2015年夏,曾任中国浙江大学公共事务学院高级外国专家

2015年春季,俄罗斯普列汉诺夫经济大学(Plekhanov Rusian University of Economics)客座教授

2012年起 匈牙利布达佩斯考文纽斯大学(Corvinus Univesity经济学院访问学者

Peter Herrmann教授曾在世界多个国家任教,包括俄罗斯、匈牙利、德国等,主要研究领域为宏观经济学,微观经济学,政治与社会学。

读万卷书,行万里路。Peter Herrmann教授给我的第一印象是,一个高挑的学者,脖子上随性地搭着一条意大利风格的围巾,手里握着一把雨伞,一举一动都让我觉得有一种“大师”的风范。

 

这次,Herrmann教授接受了小编的采访。小编一行人来到Herrmann教授的办公室,发现整个办公室都被悠悠轻放着的意大利音乐所包围,配着门上贴着的经济学卡通画像。就这样,一位教授把自己的办公处变成了一处带有艺术气息的地方。

 

Q

请问教授当初是怎么想到以后都要从事经济学领域研究的呢?总体上来说认为经济学是一门什么样的学科呢?

A

我当初做这个选择是很多因素的结合,可以说是我的热情所在与当时的政治动机相结合。

我认为经济学是一门研究组织关系的学科。关于经济学的作用,我认为可以从两个方面来概括。一个是形成经济价值观,另一个是研究隐藏在世界背后的逻辑,明白世间万物都是相互联系的。

Q

经济学学习,您对班戈学院的学生有什么好的建议吗?

A:

我有两条建议:第一,多阅读世界历史;第二,努力去探索人们的价值观是什么,人们所创造的万物中什么是美。

第二,不仅要阅读,而且要思考、要学会去观察世界并且将自身投入其中。要擅于抓住机会去做许多的尝试,而不是被父母推着向前走。此外,不要害怕犯错,因为你可以从错误中汲取经验,而且经济与我们的生活是息息相关的。

Herrmann教授也谈到了自己女儿小时候的故事。有一天当女儿走在路上看到了一只蜗牛,不是选择绕开,而是理解女儿的好奇心。让她静静地看着那只蜗牛,去观察它。去看那只蜗牛在做什么,去体会它怎么动的,之后当你有了好奇心你便会有更多的动力去学更多去了解更多。

 

之后,采访小组成员还与Herrmann教授一起讨论了当今中国的热点话题“共享经济”。

Herrmann教授分享了一个他对共享的认识。他向我们介绍在国外有一个网站,可以联系到其他国家的人来share accommodation,当你外出旅行不需要住在家里的时候。这是他对“共享”的认识。

采访尾声,Herrmann教授对班戈学院学生的评价比较高,他认为班戈学院的学生都非常努力,但希望学生们能够把理论与实践相结合;他相信,在老师们的教导下,在同学们的努力下,一定能够取得好的成绩。

****

看完今天的推送,大家是否对我们亲爱的Herrmann教授有了更多的了解呢?

在班戈学院,你有喜欢的老师吗?

TA们在你们眼中又是怎样的呢?

欢迎留言哟(*^__^*)

Living in and for academia – an international[ist] perspective

Published is a presentation given on the 4th of July in ChangSha, PRC, looking against the personal background from an academic perspective at the topic of international and global education. While sociology, economics, political science, law and arts are explicitly mentioned, philosophy remains as companion of all in the background. Highlighted is the need to regain and maintain academic integrity.

The video-recording, in some respect an extension to the interview published recently, can be found here.

Learned from the time I lived in Australia, and altered all this is not least about the statement that

I fully acknowledge the Right and Duty of the students to learn in a way that allows not only to administer their own life and land in a globally respectful way, to study the possibilities to work and connect with the world that is respectful against themselves, against their fellow beings past, present and emerging.