JM Coetzee's foreword to John Higgins's new book Academic Freedom in a Democratic South Africa, which among other topics, includes an extended interview with Nelson Mandela ally and academic Jakes Gerwel on the importance of the humanities in both the anti-apartheid struggle. In an excerpt from the interview, Gerwel stated that Apartheid was to a large degree also “a battle of and over ideas, a battle of the priority of one set of ideas over another, and in this struggle the human and social sciences played a great and liberating role.” A (pdf) history of South African education under apartheid.
Academics are farmers and intellectuals are hunters - and the hunters may be the future of the liberal arts, writes Jack Miles.
Why would a liberal education, the deeper acquaintance with a number of diverse modes of symbolic production, enhance our freedom? University of Chicago sociology professor Andreas Glaeser, in his 2005 Aims of Education Address to incoming students, muses: How About Becoming a Poet?
Recent developments in online learning have increasingly democratized the exchange of information in higher education: the launch of University of the People, a tuition-free online university; Khan Academy's acquisition of SmartHistory and its growing emphasis on humanities and liberal arts; the University of Reddit's crowd-sourced lessons being taught in real-world classrooms; Skillshare creating a community marketplace for teachers and students; Lore opening its doors to learners from all walks of life; major institutes in India putting every class lecture on YouTube in English; LectureFox collating together free university lectures from across the web. Of course not everyone is happy with the way things are going.
Dorothy Gambrell of Cat And Girl fame spends an awful lot of time talking about education, class, debt, money, and the hollow promise of aspirational media to discuss how much she hates Good Will Hunting
Philosopher A C Grayling announces the establishment of a new force in Higher Education in England: the New College of the Humanities, with much trumpeting of its all-star line-up, and its promise to "inspire the next generation of lawyers, journalists, financiers, politicians, civil servants, writers and teachers" . [more inside]
A Faustian Bargain: perhaps the best defense of the humanities in higher education you will ever read in a peer-reviewed biology journal (or maybe anywhere). [more inside]
Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity. (c. 2007 SLYT TED talk)