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The Forum > Article Comments > So much for liberal education > Comments

So much for liberal education : Comments

By Gregory Melleuish, published 7/1/2005

Gregory Melleuish argues that our humanities faculties do not embrace political debate.

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Greg,

Exactly the same (or reverse) can easily be said about the business community in Australia, ie: that it is almost devoid of the types of people you described as dominating universities. This probably has something to do with the interests of people Ė liberals are more likely than conservatives to be attracted by academia while conservatives are more likely to be attracted by business.

One of the causes of the domination of universities by social liberals is the limited number of attractive career options for those interested in academia. You very rightly point to a scarcity of think-tanks in Australia and I would add to that that most of those only employ a very small number of people and usually economists.

This situation is in turn caused by a lack of willingness to fund social research and academic debate. A recent Online Opinion article described the lack of funding Australian universities receive in comparison to those in the US. The author assumed funding is mostly necessary for scientific research equipment but I would add that the social sciences are possibly the most under funded discipline.

I donít believe however that it is the sole responsibility of government to create the more favourable environment you mention. Rather, academics should spend more time promoting the work they do to people outside of academia. Society needs academics to take a much more active and public role than most currently do. After all, those in the social sciences are paid to think about the best functioning of society, presumably they can have the most considered contributions.

As Associate Professor you should be (and possibly are) leading your school (in cooperation with other schools and universities) to promote the work of social science academics to the public. It is vastly undervalued in our community.
Posted by Kalpa, Friday, 7 January 2005 2:21:50 PM
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You often hear the right moaning on and on about this issue. Can you give us any real evidence of how this impacts our society. Given that most of us are products of our parents (however we may whish not so) and most of us follow the same life trend i.e. lean left when young and move right as we age or income increases. Would it really make a difference. Broadly speaking the left is made up of people who whish to help others and the right is made up of people who whish to help themselves. Is it plain to the eye that the left would want to teach while the right would want to do. I think those on the fringes of the left and right can loose sight of were the centre is.
Posted by Kenny, Friday, 7 January 2005 7:52:35 PM
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Kenny... thank you.
Posted by Kalpa, Friday, 7 January 2005 11:45:06 PM
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Hey Kenny, let you friends on the left know that there's a difference between helping people and forcing silly ideas down the throats of the intellectually inferior peasantry.
Posted by bozzie, Saturday, 8 January 2005 12:50:41 PM
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We've already seen the lack of diversity occurring in our universities, and it's been the result of funding cuts and subject allocations being determined by numbers and not intellectual worth.

The Right encourage diversity as long as it's diversity in right-wing philosophy, in the safe enclave of their own. Any other opinion is, by necessity, incorrect, unfounded or plain old 'silly'.
Posted by oceangrrl, Sunday, 9 January 2005 12:22:06 PM
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"There is the obligatory Howard bashing, anti-Americanism and belief in the depraved past of both Australia and Western civilisation."

Really? Oh dear. What if there was a course such as "B.A in Howard-worship, American arse-licking and Western cultural supremacy", would that make things better?

The author's blatant political slant and dogma spoils what could have been a very worthwhile critique.
Posted by paulx82, Monday, 10 January 2005 11:17:11 PM
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