Thursday, February 28, 2008

Underemployed Archicubes

After the "French social model," the "French educational model" is now under pressure. The École Normale Supérieure, once the country's most prestigious institution, seems increasingly maladapted to the job market both inside academia and out. Graduates with highly specialized training in philosophy or literature find themselves teaching in lycées, where their talents and preparation are underemployed. So argues an article in Le Nouvel Obs, which Richard Descoings, the head of Sciences Po, reproduces on his blog--a trifle disingenuously, since the article ends with this observation:

D'autres anciens avouent même rêver secrètement d'un Richard Descoings, du nom du directeur de Sciences-Po qui a su anticiper les évolutions en se lançant dans l'invention d'un nouveau modèle d'établissement supérieur.


I'm on fairly intimate terms with the dreams of many academics, and I don't know one who dreams about administrators. Is this Sarkozysme come to the world of universities? All hopes pinned on a single energetic reformer? Not a good idea, I would say, though I would be the first to congratulate Descoings on some of his initiatives at Sciences Po. Still, the article points to important undercurrents in the world of universities, undercurrents that have been slowly reshaping the landscape for many years now.

And, à propos, right on cue, nonfiction.fr has just published an article on university reform with a good bibliography of recent books on the subject.

1 comment:

gregory brown said...

I also know at least some academics who, if they dream of Richard Descoings, are almost certainly enacting on him retributions that would be illegal far beyond selling his books below 95% of retail or evicting him into the February cold. His restructurings at Sciences Po sustained some trenchant criticisms.