Academia Now and Then

I am wondering if and in which way we can and have to speak of changes in the academic world.

Putting it into a question one could ask:

Can living in the academic world be compatible with working academically?

It has something religious – similar to the questions, leading to and accompanying the Reformation, criticizing the institutionalised church in order to rescue faith.

It has something ancient philosophic-economical, where we find the contrast of Oikonomia, roughly  use-value oriented and resource-respecting management of the household  and Chrematistike, roughly the exchange-value oriented money-making, money becoming as fetish a use-value.

If we are generously accepting that different sides are justified, instead of insisting on a romanticised ideal, there still remains the

cui prodest, cui bono?

To be precise, it is not just the question who benefits. Centre-stage we have to ask

Where do we find systemically and what are the leading motives?

Looking at the distribution of income within the sector of Higher Education is revealing. And understanding that this is not the only sector where power is abused is frightening. And that power is often abused not just for private benefits, but where dependents are guided into wrong directions is a disgrace …

And there are still people speaking about freedom of thought and speech? Well, we see, it is not just a matter of a finger …, it can also be about having a different approach or uncovering injustice or speaking about it. And then people hear they should think outside of the box …?

Well, there is something biblical in all this as we know from Genesis 26 ff. – still encouraging some to ask Why can’t we do what we like to do?

Annunci

babies and bathing water

With this reference I ended a comment on the entry of Paul’s blog, where he looks at the CORE-project.

In a nutshell: a textbook that is slightly better as others, does not make it sufficiently fit for use.

As my experience of working with the text-book shows, some more radical change is needed. And blaming a faulty economic system, narrow-minded economists and trumpy-dumy politicians should not tempt us to kill the baby …

What we See – What we sometimes think – and What we have to learn

A Dedication to my Students, Around the World

The first impression on one of the the websites of my previous position was yesterday that of the

in its own way a very pleasing tune, matching the mood of the nicety of the previous Friday – for me much more than a beautiful autumn day

A day proving  the enjoyable lightness of being …

I scrolled down the site, saw the old photo showing me during the Shanghai Forum and was getting a bit curious, started the decipher …, wearisome …, to find out that all this is about the media centre and the ‘hyper-modern way of the networked world’ – where the global and the village come together …, perhaps not bad at all, if handled with care. Perhaps this is more important: the way to control the handling, not the instruments …

It surely means not least to be there for students – real, not virtual, and respecting …, no, accepting that we as teachers and as students have more in common than there are differences – where differences and arrogance, where delay and ‘servant-attitudes’ prevail, we have lost already our ingenuity.

Responsibility versus Success?

“All that glisters is not gold;
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life has sold
But my outside to behold:
Gilded tombs do worms enfold
Had you been as wise as bold,
Your in limbs, in judgment old,
Your answer had not been in’scroll’d
Fare you well: your suit is cold.’ Cold, indeed, and labour lost: Then, farewell, heat and welcome, frost!”

― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Responsibility and Success, at times and in some cases may stand in contradiction, at least tension to each other … – while the cat is chasing its own tale, not being sure if it is dead or alive.
… It is said of medical doctors that they cannot perform well unless they overcome a certain kind of empathy – some interventions cause instant pain, providing relief in the longer run. Is that the same with doctors in economics and even social science in general?
In any case the question to be asked is more specific as empathy as such is a rather empty and shallow notion as long as it is not specified. And specifying means here as in most of the cases to ask the simple question for which in particular Marcus Tullius Cicero was getting famous:
Cui Bono – for whose benefit?
Reading the other day an interview, made with a former …, shall I still say colleague?, brought this question back to me. I do not want to question the interviewees qualification, have no doubts that he is committed – but that may make things even worse.
If finance and stock analysis is such an advanced discipline, I feel obliged to ask why in 2007 a crisis manifested, actually already visible for some time for attentive observers? And it had been a crisis in particular around finance and stock markets.
I also feel obliged to wonder how it is possible to elevate a tiny fraction of the economy, an actual tool of the entire socio-economic processes, making it a major?
Sure, I agree with the emphasis of students responsibility – but it is not about them entering life – students are surely already living and perhaps we, as teachers, should think more about keeping them alive, not killing these lives by subordinating them under the rules of the ‘Lehmans of this world’.
Reading, as said to students
You are not far away from productively enter society and the real world. For that, you  will need to be as ready as possible to become accomplished and successful professionals.
shows in my reading a bit of disrespect – at least as student, I and many of my generation, would surely not have accepted such suggestion – though what is presented in the interview is surely view on young people and on life reflecting very much an negative approach to academic work: first work and then think about what you are doing. First act, and then reflect on the issues of responsibility – and even more: you may come to the conclusion that you don’t have to. There is surely a complex issue at stake – unfortunately very positive experience of the Polytechnic Secondary School education in part of Germany, finding roots in Henry Holmes Belfield’s foundation of the Chicago Manual Training School [founded in 1883] are surely more valuable than orienting on professional skills training, without sound academic foundation.
Yes, it is indeed time to take on responsibility …. – I returned to Europe – the interviewee once talked about one of my ‘homelands’, namely Italy. At least there he was right, stating that the country is in a mess. But he also celebrated another of my ‘homelands’ Germany and the U.K. suggesting that their success was very much due to austerity measures … – well, there is a point in it: the relative wealth of both is founded in austerity which can be taken as externalisation of cost and privatisation of gain: social inequality in Germany is increasing; an increasing number of people, though in full-time employment, do not earn enough money to make a living; after a full working life, the old age pension is mot secure; the health system is deteriorating, although the private contributions are extremely high. the UK took another way: exiting the EU, hoping to be thus in a position to avoid any obligation under the gelding ’solidarity’ – Indeed, Cui Bono as in both countries the rich are getting richer and more infueotnail! Being in Europe now – a bit of a tour de force through Italy, Germany, France, The Netherlands it is very visible what it means … – and there are too many facets that would need to be highlighted.

I take a short passage, from the end of an article I am currently finalising [‘Plattformökonomie – flexi, ein Schritt vorwärts oder zwei Schritte zurück?’] … Sorry, it is in German language ….***

Ein Eindruck vom mehrfachen Druck

Ein Eindruck sei hier am Schluss gegeben – dies meint auch: eine eindrückliche Verdeutlichung des Gesamtzusammenhanges. Es handelt sich um ein persönliche Erfahrung des Autors – gemacht im August 2017: Ziel des Fußweges war die mehr oder weniger zentrale Geschäftsstelle einer Krankenkasse in einer größeren deutschen Stadt. Der Weg führte an den verschiedenen Geschäften der Ketten vorbei: einschließlich etwa Esprit,[1] TK, Starbucks, Karstadt, H&M, s.Oliver,[2] Victorinox, Subway, Zara, Primark, Nespresso, Manufactum, O2 – auch der ‚discounter’ Lidl, alle nun auch in den Zentren mehr oder weniger reicher Städte Deutschlands zu finden.

Vor dem discounter kniet ein Bettler, im danebenliegenden Kaffee wird der Verkäufer der Straßenzeitung von der am Tresen stehenden Verkäuferin vertrieben, in der Geschäftsstelle der Krankenkasse wird die Summe des Versicherungsbetrages genannt – es handelt sich um mehr als 16% des Einkommens. Im Falle der Einkommenslosigkeit sind es immer noch um knapp 180 €. – Glücklich, wer da noch beim discounter kaufen kann oder gar auf andere Weise den Wert der eigenen Ware Arbeitskraft senken kann, etwa durch die Inanspruchnahme des Foodora- oder Uber-Dienstes, möglicherweise bei einem Urlaubsaufenthalt, erschwinglich durch den solo-Unternehmer, der als Pilot arbeitet und die Airbnb-reduzierten Unterkunftskosten – die letzte Warnung: spätestens wenn der Trevi-Brunnen oder Ähnliches zum Verkauf angeboten wird,[3] sollte man sich fragen, ob die Grenzen nicht wirklich überschritten sind. – Déjà vu, das letzte Geschäft, welches ich nun auf dem Rückweg sehe – wohl Zufall, ebenso Zufall, wie die aufschimmernde Erinnerung an einen Platz in Rom, den ich vor einigen Jahren überquerte – selbst im Zentrum des katholischen Wohlgefallens ist bekannt, dass Wohlfahrt in der Konkurrenzgesellschaft Grenzen hat.

But I may submit something else to the discussion here – the short story written by L.N. Tolstoy: Master and Man – there is a no need to buy into the religious part of it. Many aspects are making if a good read – the main story line, and the little ramifications.
Reading the short story in the light of finance, there is one crucial sentence, and should not be forgotten when looking at the tool of finance – and applying tools without knowing sufficiently about the entire context:
Vasili Andreevich stopped, stooped down and looked carefully. It was a horse-track only partially covered with snow, and could be none but his own horse’s hoofprints. He had evidently gone round in a small circle. ‘I shall perish like that!’ he thought, and not to give way to his terror he urged on the horse still more, peering into the snowy darkness in which he saw only flitting and fitful points of light.
Indeed, limited perspectives don’t allow much – there is always good reason to take wider perspectives on studying, responsibility and life.
***********
*** Too lazy, and not trusting google-translation, I still dared – the result is reasonable, here inserted without changes made.
An impression of multiple pressures An impression should be given here – this also means: an impressive clarification of the overall context. It is a personal experience of the author – made in August 2017: the goal of the footpath was the more or less central office of a health insurance in a larger German city. The route took us past the various shops of the chains: including Esprit, TK, Starbucks, Karstadt, H & M, s.Oliver, Victorinox, Subway, Zara, Primark, Nespresso, Manufactum, O2 Also in the centers of more or less rich cities of Germany.   In front of the discounter, a beggar kneels, in the coffee next to it, the seller of the road is expelled by the saleswoman standing at the counter, in the office of the health insurance the sum of the insurance amount is called – it is more than 16% of the income. In the case of loss of income, it is still around € 180. – Happy, who can still buy at the discounter or in some other way reduce the value of the own goods labor, for example through the consumption of the food or over-service, possibly for a holiday stay, affordable by the solo entrepreneur, who as Pilot works and the Airbnb reduced accommodation costs – the last warning: at the latest when the Trevi well or the like is offered for sale, one should ask whether the limits are not really exceeded. – Déjà vu, the last business I see on the way back – coincidence, just as coincidentally, as the glimmering memory of a place in Rome, which I crossed a few years ago – even in the center of the Catholic prosperity is well-known that welfare In the competition borders.

[1]            Ja, es ist ein bemerkenswerter Geist, der da über allem schwebt. Und wie Namen, Images und Design eine immer prägendere Rolle spielt, was unter anderem durch Halbbildung ermöglicht wird.

Yes, it is a remarkable spirit that floats above everything. And how names, images and design play an ever more prominent role, which is made possible, among other things, by semi-education.

[2]            Es fehlt nur das an das S angehängte t um dem Ganzen etwas Heiligkeit zu anzuhängen.

The only thing missing is the t attached to the S to add something holiness to the whole.

[3]            Vom Teilverkauf in der Form von Besichtigungskosten, gig-sightseeing-tours etc. abgesehen.

 From the partial sale in the form of sightseeing, gig-sightseeing-tours etc. apart.

The cat’s tale – the difficulty of academia then and now

It seems to be relatively easy to deal with Schroedinger’s cat – the question is well known:

[1]

Schrödinger wanted people to imagine that a cat, poison, a geiger counter, radioactive material, and a hammer were inside of a sealed container. The amount of radioactive material was minuscule enough that it only had a 50/50 shot of being detected over the course of an hour. If the geiger counter detected radiation, the hammer would smash the poison, killing the cat. Until someone opened the container and observed the system, it was impossible to predict if the cat’s outcome. Thus, until the system collapsed into one configuration, the cat would exist in some superposition zombie state of being both alive and dead.[2]

The one way of dealing with it is to open the box in order to see if the cat is alive or not. However, it is a way of dealing with the problem by actually denying it as checking, giving ‘empirical evidence’ in actual fact changes the conditions to such an extent that, what had been the question at the outset is actually redefined: the conditions from which the question emerged are not anymore given.

The other way is to admit that there is no answer and that there cannot be any answer for ever. One could see this as a purely academic issue – though this is probably seen differently by the cat – being eternally in a situation of not knowing if her is dead or alive which must admittedly a hugely unpleasant state of existence. And both ‘easy answers’ prevail when we are looking at academia, in particular universities: researching, studying and teaching. One question may be asked though: what is if we simply look at the tale, not the entire cat but also not something that exists only as chimera?

Some reflections on the development of third level education today can be found here, impressions and reports, resulting from having worked in China for two years at a ‘joint venture’ between a EUropean and a Chinese university, and reflecting more general trends than really anything like ‘this is China’. And also reflecting on a general trend of supposed academic education where one learns not to agree with but to follow rules, where you have to like numbers but yu do nit have to like maths … – at the end where you should end with a major that makes sure that the cat is dead while the mice are dancing a bubble dance, appealingly majoring in accounting without understanding the economy of which it takes account.

********

[1]            https://i.stack.imgur.com/Of40B.jpg; 27/07/17

[2]            IFLScience – The lighter sight of science: Schrödinger’s Cat: Explained; http://www.iflscience.com/physics/schrödinger’s-cat-explained/; 27/07/17

‘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(*^__^*)

… no waiting anymore …

finally the short holidays are over, back to the students and the seminars, the really exciting side of teaching … so no waiting anymore, not even for Godot

Vien dietro a me, e lascia dir le genti:
sta come torre ferma, che non crolla
già mai la cima per soffiar di venti …
Dante Alighieri:
and there on the Purgatorio, Canto V