Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 14th, 2010

EU higher education system; (Mar. 15, 2010)

There are currently hot discussions on what kind of university system students in the European Union want.

For example, Vienna is welcoming 46 education ministers of Europe on March 11 and 12, 2010 to celebrate the anniversary of 10 years of the Bologna (in Italy) accord.

In 1999, 29 European States adopted a common declaration for the creation of a “European higher education space” to be applicable in 2010, so that any university student can transfer to other universities within Europe.

For this objective, there was the need to agree on:

1.  Compatible diplomas and curriculum.  The first diploma or cycle (bachelor degree) was to be of 3 years and obtained within the Nation-State of the student; the second cycle or masters was to be of 2 years and the PhD degree could be obtained at any university selected by the student across borders.

2. This accord was to encourage mobility and promote professional formation.  Universities agreeing to compatible standards were evaluated twice a year.  Although this accord was not initiated by the EU it benefited from the active support in investment by the European Investment Bank for modernizing university programs and infrastructure toward research/development and innovation/competitiveness.

While the ministers of education are celebrating, a counter movement is actively demonstrating in Vienna.  The movement is denouncing the non-democratic accord (non participation in reforms by the people) and worrying that universities are being transformed into centers for market oriented products (students) instead of graduating well-rounded conversant graduating students in world challenges and problems that require global resolutions.

Ulrich Beck, a German sociology emeritus professor who regularly teaches at Harvard, is worried that the first cycle of 3 years is inevitably dropping general knowledge courses and pressuring students to attend 60 hours of courses per week.  He claims that universities are still educating within the Nation-State concept.

For example, the notion of Nation is transformed into Nation-State, society in general into national society, and history into the national history in order to strengthen national unity and cohesion.  These programs inevitably translated into imperialism tendencies in mentality and practices.

Thus, modern general knowledge in Europe should no longer be exclusively focused on national education (this should be the job in secondary schools), but emphasis should be on modern international understanding of challenges and problems.

Global resolution is the job of the educated masses as well as the elite classes.

General knowledge should be intended into forming international citizens ready to participate in solidarity with developing states

I suggest that the accord of Bologna restructures the academic first cycle program as follows:

First, the first cycle needs to be split into two qualifications or degrees and extended to 3 and a half-year.

Second, Qualification (A) of 18 months should be related to world challenges such as environment, poverty, health, deforestation, decimation of species, solidarity associations, NGO, the European Union organization, policy making procedures, and so forth.

This general knowledge on world challenges and global resolution program can be selected by the student among the universities across borders that have excellent current general knowledge programs; anyway, most subtends would love to spend time away from their nation-state for a change as they graduate from high school.

Third, Qualification (B) of 2 years will focus on the fields of interest for market demands or job carrier.  This cycle will be done within the nation-state universities.

Otherwise, many universities will experience harsh competition from heavy weight more famous and solidly grounded universities in the more developed States in Europe and be forced to close down.

This suggestion combines the need for global general education and encourages universities to upgrade their programs related to global challenges and resolutions.

This reformatting of the first cycle is a pragmatic solution that transforms universities into centers of equality among classes differing in financial means and privileges.

It is imperative to bridge the chasm between inter-connected cosmopolitan elite and the medium and lower classes in matters relevant to decisions on global resolution.

Otherwise, middle classes people will be forced to think and work locally; thus, unable to compete globally and reduced to frequent upheavals in a fast internationally changing environment.

FedEx President has a word to say; (Mar. 14, 2010)

          Frederick Smith, founder and President of FedEx, employing 300,000 around the world had this to say on the ridiculous ideology that finance contributed to the world economic boom:

          “Finance was largely a smoke screen… In 1983, the financial sector represented 155 of the profit in American economy.  In 2008, it jumped to the third in total profit.  Between these two dates, finance has invented nothing to justify appropriating so much profit share.  All that financiers invented was a system of splitting the actives and diffusing them in the economy as fast as electronic markets absorbed.  The financiers pretended that this diffusion created value and permitted diversification of risks.  In fact, it added no value and concentrated the risks.”

          Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Union Central Bank said: “I do think that our democracies will accept a second times that states will fly to rescue of the financial institutions and the real economy as they did during this latest crash”

          Joseph E. Stieglitz, Nobel Prize for economy and former President Clinton economic advisor and Vice president of the World Bank wrote in (The Great disillusion, 2002):  “Today globalization is not working; not for the poor of the world; not for the environment; and not for the world economic stability.  It was a unilateral imposition of the rules of the game.”  Slieglitz published recently “When capitalism lost its head, 2009”

Are you acquainted with death? (Mar. 14, 2010)


          Tagore captured death as the master of the house inviting everyone to the banquet of life.  We are all the invitees to the Banquet of Life.  Each one tries his best to participate according to his talent and the way he likes to enjoy banquets.  Some gather flowers, others arrange the flowers, others cook the plate of their choice, a few sings, play musical instruments, recite poetry, crack jokes, laugh at jokes, confess to a dear friend, converse with someone in particular, woo pretty girls, paint people in the banquet, take photos, disseminate opinions and positions, chat on the latest neighborhood news, get intelligence on the ecosystem, ask for advantageous ways of investing surplus money, hand out CV and pamphlets, and contacts for references.

          When the hour to leave is over, when we have eaten and drank, then we thank the host for his generosity. Hoping to be invited to another banquet is not a sure thing: the merrier, the most gracious your behavior, and the higher the chances for another welcoming card.  You may decline invitations or not participate for fear of making a mockery of yourself but fear will never prevent the inevitable. Better enjoy your time to the hilt: Tomorrow is never better than the present.

          You live to know who you are and how to share what you love in life. Learn to talk about death, especially with people you know have terminal illness. The more you talk about death the more familiar you are with this fact.  There is this couple who faced imminent death in childish joy and contentment.  The husband was diagnozed with cancer and for an entire year he had great moments with his wife and children; he said: “My wife and I are behaving like kids splashing about in the banio”

“Bob, next time, fire it is” 

          “It is impossible that past humiliation of Blacks comes back to crush us all.  Blacks will refuse to go to war abroad: How many blacks could the White government locks up in jails for disobedience? The US will be incapable of building a better world, here or elsewhere, if White/Black relation is not improved. The West is still unable to differentiate between the human and the politics in discrimination: The West refuses to accept the slaves brought in chains as valid citizens.

          We have got to do what is necessary at the price of expulsion, imprisonment, torture, and death. We have got to do what is necessary so that the next generation of blacks pay the least of the bill for human dignity and political civil rights. The impossible is the least we should demand.

          We are beautiful’ when I was a kid I wondered “when vengeance is consummated then what would become of all that beauty?” There is a law that says “What goes up must come down”: Whites have reached the top of the curve in ignorance and intransigence. The few of the conscious Blacks have to stand up and fire in order to end this racial nightmare; they have to press for real united nation”

          James Arthur Baldwin (1924-87) settled in France and died in France.  He published “The Conversion, 1953” and “The room of Giovanni” where he proclaimed his homosexual inclinations.  Baldwin participated in the first Black Congress in Paris (1956) and met black intellectuals and artists from around the world. He travelled in Europe and Africa and used to return to the US to participate in critical demonstrations and mass rallies.

          Baldwin demanded of Senator Robert Kennedy to convince his brother President John to carry a black kid to the south and register him in white school since the US high Court has recognized this right in 1954.  When Kennedy refused then Baldwin replied: “Nest time, fire it is”  Indeed, the 60’s was plagued by a succession of political assassinations starting by John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Robert Kennedy and many other black leaders.




March 2010

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