Academics and culture

Academics often tend to think that culture is found in books or in the world out there they debate about and give prescriptions on. However culture is what they do just as much as what they talk about: their relationships, their being, their acting, their thinking, over and above their formalised written research. The morals and ethics of academic practices cannot be exempted by academic scrutiny as if they were not culture and did not influence the direction and the content of the academics’ musings about the world (about the universe).

Sometimes, too often indeed, academics are caught in corrupt, unethical, immoral or reprehensible behaviours just as the people they write against and train the students to despise. What a sorry state of affairs and what an interesting contradiction the exploration of which could tell us a lot about the false pretences of academic knowledge.

Think about it: if directors, presidents and CEOs of the IMF, the World Bank or of the evil multinational corporation are “criminal” – I’ve heard this expression innumerable times indeed – then the petty corruption taking place within a university to secure a job or a grant cannot be but pathetic giving its scale sure but also given the holier than thou stand taken by the academic orators on their venerable pulpits. And yet it is just as disappointing as the corruption of a judge for instance. If the corruption of the person who has the task to protect the rights of the citizens indeed creates profound discouragement, think how deceptive can be the ethical misconduct of an educator (profession that is still part of the academic world, even if some academics despise teaching and the students themselves – that too is rather common, sadly).

Righteousness and self-delusion thrive in the academia, not unlike any other sector of society. How could it be otherwise? And yet is disturbs me a great deal (is this another form of righteousness or it is so because it affects me directly?). Of course to conclude, necessary distinction needs to be made on the kind of corruption and the intensity with which they are performed. Some universities, some schools, some centres are better than others and do proactively keep an eye on their work and its management.

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