Monday, December 21, 2009

Debate on University Reform

Between J.-F. Mela and Gilbert Bereziat.


Anonymous said...

I'd certainly have to explore further J-F Mela's idea of what a university is and should do. From what he writes, I conclude that the type of university he conceives cannot but fail since the objectives he proposes cannot be met. There is too much top-down social engineering in his mix for things to take root over the long term or have the expected-for benefits.

It's not enough for a school, any school, to give a piece of paper to a kid saying with "diploma" inscribed on it. The significance of that piece of paper is given to it by actors other than that of the State, the university admins, professors - its the potential employers or potential research directors. And the opinion they form of Paris XIII is garnered by the experience they've had with Paris XIII, and/or the reputation that's built around the "Paris 13 product". In my view, its not a bad product, that is, the typical Paris 13 Licence student. But there are better - the brightest kids in the "Neuf-Trois" do what they can to go another, better, Université de Paris campus.

Plus, that Paris 13 is a frickin' wasteland. It makes the high school in "Welcome Back Kotter" look like Oxford, for cryin' out loud. My first impression when I went there was that the Ministry of National Education must really hate the kids in Seine St.Denis who go to Paris 13. I get this feeling at lots of universities - these places are so god-awful ugly, that its ugliness must be intended. As if the State wanted to say "Go away".

Chris P.

satchmo said...

Chris, the comments about the dire spatial and architectural settings of many current institutions are well-taken.

I had a similar feeling at the old Jussieu campus of Paris-VII, the one with the moats to facilitate CRS and crowd-control efficiency in the case of anticipated unrest. In the 70s-80s the place was permanently trashed and felt like a scene from Clockwork Orange or some other rendering of dystopic ruin. There's a book or at least a good article to be written about this kind of post-68 uni-as-minimum-security-prison architecture on campuses all over Europe and North America.