EDEV_503 Week 3_4

Jam. wrote;

Do you think BILGI is supporting any particular party? Are post-secondary institutions supposed to be partisans or non-partisan? I am making assumptions here; what if someone with conservative views applies to be employed at BILGI, would they be employed or not? What are your assumptions?

Yours is a fascinating question. Here is my take on it.

In the western world, it would be a faux-pas for an institution to claim that their views are anti-liberal and anti-democratic. Western societies are founded on democratic principles and the mission of their universities either needs to support that or not actively contradict it. Interestingly, although the access to Oxbridge favours the middle and upper classes in England and they produce many of the country’s elite, can you imagine them openly stating that they are elitist, anti-meritocratic and non-democratic (which it may be argued that they are in part)? In other words, the statement of liberal and democratic values points back to deep social roots and aspirations as well as masks the potential for slippery rhetoric.

I don’t think that supporting any political party necessarily means that the institution doesn’t uphold the wider and deeper values of the society.

Turkey is also based on democratic principles. There is separation of the legislature and the judiciary, which maintains secular values (Çarkoğlu, 2004). Given the current religious and political tensions in the surrounding areas, it will be interesting to see how these values are upheld. If Bilgi really do value open discussion, they should employ staff with diverse political affiliations. However, I suspect that their aspiration for social transformation would inhibit the employment of, say, an openly ISIS member.

Bringing the discussion back to Japan, it was precisely this tension that shaped the modern Japanese university’s political positioning. Osaki (1997)relates the stories of the “Tomizu Incident” (p. 153) and the “Sawayanagi Incident” (p. 154) that respectively solidified academic freedom and the ultimate authority of the university president over any governmental control.

Jim

Çarkoğlu, A. (2004). Religion and Politics in Turkey. London: Routledge.

Osaki, H. (1997). The structure of university administration in Japan. Higher Education, 34, 151–163.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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