Over at HASTAC, there’s an interesting conversation going on about Openness in Academia. I am especially enjoying the ways different definitions of openness are being connected and examined: accessibility not just to technology but also to the conceptual and political visions of what the academy means; the role of online identities to scholars and other intellectuals and the ways privacy and privatization both do and do not connect; questions about teaching and the open classroom versus the matter of whether education is something that its ‘consumers’ should pay for. I recommend checking it out.
This conversation strikes me as especially important right now because I’ve been glued to the news of the drastic cuts in public funding for higher education and just about everything else in the UK. If higher education had not been public, if it had been viewed as something that one’s parents have to pay for (as it is the the US), I can’t imagine how I could have got in to the position I’m in today. I attended university in Scotland when fees had just been introduced, but I wasn’t eligible to pay them, and thanks to the encouragement of my family I got to more or less inherit the way of thinking about university education as something to which I had a right regardless of my economic status. I was already lucky to be able to think that way, to see education as a way to expand what my world could include rather that as something I would invest in and consume in order to make me a more successful participant in a narrowly-defined world of work. The current UK government is tearing down the last remnants of that sense of openness, sending out the message that intellectual openness is a luxury only for the rich and impractical, and it’s breaking my heart.
- Alan Lothian, 1947-2010
- MLA 2011 and #mla11: on tweeting conventions