Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Activism and Academia: G20

It's interesting (or disheartening, depending on your view) to see in the Times Higher today that the University of East London has cancelled their planned 'Alternative G20 Summit' on Wednesday this week. Is this an understandable reaction to the comprehensive media coverage of the protests planned throughout London this week? Or should the university management team have continued to support the event?

Universities will undoubtedly be pulled in different directions throughout the economic downturn. As we have seen in the Irish media in recent weeks, they are viewed as both saviour of the economy but also bloated, inefficient institutions. They are necessary for generating wealth but also full of dead wood that needs chopping off (apparently). With the Alternative G20 Summit, their potential role as offering a public space for critical commentary on the economic problems have not been supported. Where will spaces be made for this potentially crucial role of universities?

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