Polarization in French Universities

4 thoughts on “Polarization in French Universities”

  1. Hey Gabe,
    Thank you so much for this fascinating and very relevant topic concerning academia and politics. I am very interested to see what the study determines and the possible ramifications for either the political left or right in France. I do have a question or two related to this topic of politics in higher academia.
    In your opinion, with politics being downstream from culture, is it inevitable that there will always be a political influence on academics? or is it possible to have an unbiased and neutral take when it comes to education and higher education in particular. Secondly, with looking at higher education specifically in North America, there is a prevalent bias towards left-wing ideologies throughout institutions, programs, and campus cultures. Because of this present situation, do you see a change in which the right starts taking a more influential role in these institutions? or are the liberal ideologies entrenched in these systems?
    Thank you so much and I look forward to reading more great posts! Happy writing. 🙂

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    1. I like this idea of seeing debate, even around a charge as politically incendiary as Islamofascism, as leading to possible good ends. I’d be somewhat more critical of the suggestion that universities in North America trend left. I can’t speak to student politics, but from where I sit, I’ve seen nothing that confirms such a suggestion. I once served as equity chair with CUASA. There was a *huge* array of perspectives among members and departmental reps. Many were critical of the executive’s positions from the right to the left and all points in between. Engineers might be just as critical of university policy as sociologists, with libertarians all across the spectrum too. To my mind, that is what makes the university such an interesting place, because it defies easy categorization, makes us question our assumptions, while forcing us to find ways to talk to each other across our great many differences. Thanks for your comments, both!

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  2. Hi Gabe!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I wrote on this topic as well for my own blog post but it was nice to see a different perspective on it. I agree with you in that the outcomes of the investigation either way would signal something good (hopefully). The problem I have with this is that France is keen on this idea of “preserving the French identity”. Anything that doesn’t fall in line with this is seemingly bad. With that being said, I am hesitant into HOW this investigation is going to be conducted and if it will be done in way that is fair. If they are going into the investigation looking to prove that dangerous Islamo-leftist ideologies are present in French academia, then I fear they might find a way to twist things around to support their position. I think in academic setting like universities especially, it’s so important for students to get exposure to different perspectives and ideologies. It helps you kind of understand your own position in the world better and determine your beliefs on important issues. The fact that they might be looking to restrict what is taught in universities because it doesn’t fit their “French vision” doesn’t sit well with me personally.

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  3. It will definitely be interesting to see what the results of the investigations are, as well as what the consequences and reactions of both the government and the academic parties, and how it will all play out depending on what comes to light.
    I find it interesting how French universities are becoming more polarizing. Where does it stem from? While I understand there may be issues with elitism and accessibility to this seemingly higher education, universities should be sites for conversation and learning, rather than polarization and close-minded arguments.
    At the same time, however, it makes sense to see an increase in strong, polarizing views. With so many resources at one’s fingertips, academics can easily find, manipulate and use research to back up their opinions and views, no matter how extreme and far-fetched they may be.
    There is also an argument to be made that of course there is an agenda. Just look at a syllabus. What is being taught and the sources used were specifically hand-picked. Not with malicious intent but with the intent to teach a perspective on a topic that is well-known to the professor or instructor of that particular course.

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