Session 1 Pre Reading Palmquist


Palmquist, S. 2004. Kant’s Ideal of the University as a Model for World Peace. In: International Conference on Two Hundred Years after Kant. (20-22 November, Tehran, Iran: Allame Tabataba’i University). [Online]. References are assumed the page numbers are printed 1-12.

I found this impossible! I can’t relate to male-dominated religious institutions in 1798 and my own experience at university as a student and now as a lecturer. As I didn’t understand this relationship I decided to think about conflict and it’s position at a university.

When I studied (in the last century) universities were centres of political unrest and a passion to change the world. I don’t see this anymore. There have been some media reports of terrorist organisations using educational establishments to recruit. This is the first time there has been any politics reported on campus for many years. During my own student days we protested; poll tax, student loans, university fees. We did not accept the norm. The conflict was felt in ripples through our student unions and in our studios.

I must admit these protests often were “a free trip to London” but they made national news headlines and showed the power of the generation, we were not lost. Can I imagine today’s students participating? No is my simple answer. Their focus is different, the ‘me’ generation (TIME, 2013), “They are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they’re trying to take over the Establishment but because they’re growing up without one.” Their conflict is the internal, personal struggle and not what they perceive in the world.

Palmquist quotes, “As technology advances, governments have become more adept at killing off their perceived enemies and less willing to sit down with them and dialogue until they reach the point where they can find a way to live in peace in spite of their conflicting perspectives”. Technology has definitely allowed us to hide behind words to communicate and not have to face the challenge of a direct question. How often have I sat in a classroom knowing that the group of 25 know the answer, yet not one vocalises the answer. He goes on to suggest that Kant would propose that universities have failed to be “instruments of peace”. From my perspective I think that this ideology just became less of a priority for the education system that has inevitably become results driven. It is no wonder the number of students attaining higher classifications has increased:

We are all being encouraged to become eco-warriors to save our planet, particularly in educational institutions, yet we seem to be failing to take steps to stop self-destruction. Is this a result of a the balance or imbalance of power? I don’t think so.

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