What role should faith play in the daily life of the university? Some take the view that we should be rigorously secular, seeing faith as a personal matter that should be expressed away from the campus. In this approach, the work of learning, teaching and research should be organised independently from the needs of any specific faith group. But in practical terms, this is close to impossible in a country that organises its week and its public holidays around one specific religion and which requires “reasonable accommodation” with regard to equality and diversity. Other universities are faith-based by tradition and charter. More broadly, the recent controversy concerning schools in Birmingham has raised questions about faith-based and secular education and implications for funding.
The South African Archaeological Bulletin is a venerable academic journal but is not on everyone’s reading list. So I think it’s a safe bet that few (anyone?) reading this blog will have seen my review of the Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology that came out last month. To give you the pleasure of this experience, I’ve reproduced the review below.
Apart from academic vanity, I have a particular reason for drawing attention to the Handbook Phenomenon. The richness of African archaeology is in the heritage of some of the poorest countries in the world. Academics in these countries will have to pay £120 for the 1080 pages of this handbook. For this price – already unattainable – they will receive content that will have about one fortieth of the academic value of the online version of the same book. And the online version is only available at an annual subscription that is almost ten times the price as the printed book. These are the challenges of the current state of academic publishing and, of course, of many aspects of the world economy.
What does Salford make of South Africa? This – of course! – fascinates me since, for the past five years I’ve been asking the same question the other way round. And so I was intrigued when, earlier this year, our TV Journalism programme lead Sarah Jones told me that a group of our final year students had been chosen to go to South Africa and report.
Northern Ireland today, says Stephen Farry, is a case study of “peace as pursuit of war by other means”. Farry, who is Minister for Employment and Learning in the Northern Ireland Executive, sees a central role for universities in moving beyond a society divided by religious sectarianism and to a new form of responsible politics. Majoritarianism, he says, must be balanced against minority interests and human rights if there is to be reconciliation.
Farry was the opening speaker at the Higher Education for Democratic Innovation Global Forum at Queen’s University Belfast. This brought together universities and associated organisations from North America and Europe to take a fresh look at community engagement in an ever more divided world.
Invention is a compulsion that changes the world. I’m reading Friedrich Kittler’s remarkable Gramophone, Film, Typewriter (Writing Science); Kittler shows how, over a few years towards the end of the nineteenth century, key mechanical inventions changed the nature of writing and how we perceive, record and remember the world around us.
For almost a century, inventors have come together to share ideas as the Institute of Patentees and Inventors. Now, for the first time, the Institute has set up a branch outside London, here in Manchester. We’re proud to be partnering with them in this venture.