The word “university” is derived from the Latin universitas magistrorum et scholarium, which roughly means “community of teachers and scholars.” (Wikipedia). Universities have been autonomous communities dedicated to science and learning. Despite relying on public funding, they have largely been free of political regulations. In democracies they played a critical role similar to the press.
I’m at the beginning of what may turn out to be an academic career (or when the results and changes seem far away, I think I’m on my way to setting up a woodshop and making furniture). A question that keeps popping up in my mind, is that of what my role as an academic is, should, and can be.
Moroversity, an academic activist alliance based in Tampere (Finland), greets the NewUniversityNorway.
Moroversity derives its name from the local vernacular, where “Moro!” is a casual greeting, highlighting the alliance’s informal nature.
Moroversity is active on multiple levels simultaneously.
In our first Open Post, sociology professor Aksel Tjora warns against the “MacDonaldification” of higher education and research in Norway. He argues that we need to act now with a strong countercurrent collective effort, across academics and students.
“A merger will contribute to an ongoing process that is eroding workplace democracy at the university in favour of a neoliberal agenda,” Michael Jones argues in this essay.
The ‘New University’ protests in Amsterdam, with similar initiatives in the UK, Canada, and Denmark have awakened students and scholars to the increasingly neoliberal management of academic institutions. While these types of changes have been implemented more gradually in Norway, discussions around increased commodification of knowledge and weakening university democracy are nevertheless on the rise.
“Når Universitetsavisa inviterer til holmgang mellom Aksel Tjora og rektor Gunnar Bovim, gir det både inntrykk av et jevnt styrkeforhold mellom to likestilte meningsmotstandere, og en personifisering av fusjonskonflikten. Begge deler er feil,” skriver leserbrevforfatterne i dette innlegget, hvor de går kraftig i rette meed rektor.
How democratic a merger? Wednesday 25. Minister of Education Torbjørn Røe Isaksen will be presenting his plans for the upcoming merger process of Norwegian universities. This process is top-down, the four PhDs argues.
Jacobsen, Andresen, Refstie and Marsland: “While rector Gunnar Bovim and the SVT faculty highlight participation as a fundamental aspect of the processes going on at NTNU, our experience is that “participation” is being used to legitimize an agenda and decisions that have already been made.” (ill.photo from the campus meetings where Bovim explained the process to university employees.