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New Paradigms in Adminspeak

Our Provost is a master of adminspeak. My favorite example of his prowess in this area:

"Our fundamental mission as a University must be deployed in service of the broader transnational learning process."

For more of the same, please see: "Hiring Pause, Thinking Freeze."

The Times Higher Ed has a good time with adminspeak:

Mary Evans laments the growing use of 'university-speak' in the academy - otherwise known as a part of the 'knowledge economy'

Navigating the bog of "robust policies", "dynamic research" and "developing the enhancement agenda already under way" (all recent examples of current university-speak) adds a new demand to academic life: the ability to continue to wage what Martin Amis has described as the "war against cliché".

Of these clichés, the "knowledge economy", the value of "private" money in higher education and the centrality of "skills" to the university curriculum are among the most pervasive. The idea of the "knowledge economy" has now become a defining sentence in university creeds: it is an assumption that has acquired an almost religious authority. But if we consider it for a moment, we have to ask about the understanding of history and social change that informs this idea: do those who believe in the "knowledge economy" seriously think that pre-industrial societies had no knowledge, or that the incremental accumulation of knowledge (and particularly technological knowledge) is synonymous with human progress and emancipation?

Yet every time a vice-chancellor trots out the graduation ceremony litany of "going out equipped with the necessary skills for the knowledge society", a picture of the past as lacking in skills and knowledge is enforced, a picture that both obscures much between Plato and NATO and reinforces the view that only contemporary (and Western) knowledge is of any use.

As universities increasingly surround higher education with clichés about skills and the knowledge economy, so they distance themselves from an ideal of passionate involvement with ideas that should be at the heart of the academy.

Students and staff often long for precisely this kind of message about higher education, yet instead we are fed empty slogans that diminish and curtail the very possibilities of universities.

Amen, Mary.

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