Category Archives: Education

Political and Social Density in the age of Bubbles: Making Sense of the Present and the Past

By Patrick Walsh There is an old Chinese curse that says ‘May you live in interesting times’. Few of us would dispute that we are living in ‘interesting times’ today. In Ireland, as elsewhere in the world, the last few … Continue reading

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Escaping the ivory tower: academics and the city

By Niamh Cullen Last Wednesday I attended the inaugural event of a new group of Dublin based humanities scholars, Dublintellectual. The idea behind Dublintellectual – bringing the research of Irish based scholars and researchers to a wider public – is … Continue reading

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‘Arts degrees. Please take one’… Is a humanities degree worth the paper it’s written on?

By Niamh Cullen I think most humanities students are asked at least once – and realistically, probably a lot more than that – why they chose to do an ‘arts’ degree. After all, what does history, English, Spanish or film … Continue reading

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‘Sure they only work six hours a week’: Defending Irish academia

By Patrick Walsh Irish universities and the academic blogosphere are currently full of academics reflecting upon their position, as they attempt to generate responses to increasingly restrictive, and frequently ill-thought out new policy directives. Reflection of course comes naturally to … Continue reading

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What’s the point of universities?

I know this blog has been very quiet for a while – unfortunately I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had much time for writing blog pieces in the last few weeks, although, annoyingly, I’ve had loads of ideas! However, … Continue reading

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Knowledge Economy or the Economising of Knowledge: The Meaning of Education

Third level education is a contentious subject in Ireland these days; it seems that just as more and more people flock to gain access to it, there is less money to pay for it. However, urgent as the struggle to balance the budget is, there are in reality much more fundamental issues at stake in Irish education. The number of students attending university has risen dramatically in the last few decades, from 11% in 1955, to more than half the population in 2003. Expressions like ‘the knowledge economy’ are worn out from use in media debates, and everyone seems to be convinced that education is the key to lifting Ireland out of recession in the long term. However, when we talk about the kind of education we wish Irish universities to focus on, opinions begin to diverge. Recent articles in the Irish Times by Tom Garvin and Salter Sterling show how this debate is at the forefront of the public consciousness; however the questions of what should be taught and what kind of research projects should be done in universities, as well as how these should be financed, managed and justified, are ones of global import. In her address to the Royal Irish Academy on Wednesday evening, Harvard university president Drew Gilpin Faust made an eloquent and impassioned contribution to this debate. Continue reading

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