Friday, September 4, 2015

Enough with the elitist nonsense!

If academe is narrowly conceived as a training ground for elitist citizens who are disconnected and far-removed from the plight of everyday people, it fails to serve as a learning ground.

Unfortunately, elitism has become the hallmark of many Asian Universities, following the trend toward elitism that we see globally.

Asian universities wanting to become the next Ivy league are more interested in developing strategies that would take them to the Ivy league position than about serving the people and communities they reside in. They fly in White Professors from these Ivy leagues to teach, mentor and model the art of becoming elitist.

One of the byproducts of this elitism is the inability of the social sciences to serve any real purpose in understanding the local societies within which Universities are located. Students are not trained to be out in the community talking to people.

The classroom becomes the site for learning Eurocentric models and Eurocentric theories, and Professors, having never stepped out of the Ivory Tower, have little meaningful contributions to make to the broader communities in which they reside. It is often striking how very little many Professors within these elitist structures have actually stepped out of their comfort zones or taken the time and effort to interact with real people who reside outside of their theory drivel.

Universities in this model become gated communities, having no intellectual and empirical bases to engage communities with, and having no data points through which they can understand communities and cultures.

Meaningful roles for Universities in the Asian century need to intellectually and empirically imagine points of real conversations with communities as the foundations for what we do. The social sciences, as methods for engaging with communities, have pivotal roles to play in these conversations.

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