Friday, January 31, 2014

More reflections on Macaulay's Children: Who teaches the social sciences and humanities?

What should be the commitment of the humanities and social sciences in Asia in covering concepts and ideas rooted in Asia?

How should these commitments play out in the composition of research and teaching faculty in Departments located in Asia?

How is the project of de-Westernization to be accomplished when the majority of the teachers and researchers that inundate the Asian academe happen to be from the West or are trained in the West?

How is the project of de-Westernization to be accomplished if the majority of the decision-makers who offer leadership are from the West?

In other words, How does the question of representation play out in the composition of Departments and Faculties of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences located in Asia, and in the composition of leadership roles and structures within Departments, Colleges, and Universities? 

What is the desirable composition of a Department of say Communication located in Asia?

And what are the implications of faculty composition on what gets taught, the readings that get included, and the relevance of these readings to the lived experiences of students we teach?

These are vital questions to consider when participating in discourses of pedagogy, centering, and de-centering.

I personally struggle with these questions as the Head of a Department of Communications and New Media located in Asia.

How are my visions, understanding of pedagogy, and engagement with the local specificity of communication informed by my lived experiences as a South Asian, my training as a Western academic, and the contradictions between these locations as well as the possibilities of synergy between these positions?

How are my understandings of what it means to teach communication shaped by lived experiences that are rooted in specificities of ontology and epistemology centered in Asia?

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