02 February 2010

Political Activism vs. Academic Scholarship

Barbara Kay would have people believe (rather than think, which takes some work) that all academic scholarship is sans political activism - except for women's studies.

Well, Barbie (I assume you prefer that to 'Ms'), I've news for you. Virtually all academic scholarship is political. Right from who funds the research institutes, including governments, to the eligibility criteria for student scholarships, the choices instructors and departments make for their courses and programs, the fields students choose to study and where they study them ...

Try telling anyone who studies the Social Determinants of Health or Health Promotion that it isn't political.

Try telling anyone who studies sociology or political science or philosophy or any number of the humanities, including literature, that it hasn't an element of political activism to it.

Try telling a doctor studying infectious diseases that what she does is irrelevant to the political sphere or a physicist petitioning for space exploration isn't engaged in political activism. 

Try telling someone who is writing their doctoral dissertation that what they do has no political implications. No matter what the topic, no matter how esoteric, the point is to change or influence how people think about that subject.

LEARNING is a form of political activism. The uninformed citizen is the least likely to be engaged.

But perhaps that's what you would want.

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