Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wise words from a British Vice-Chancellor

. . . can be found here in this very positive (and reassuring) message to staff by Keith Burnett, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield (and my alma mater). In particular, readers will be delighted to find the following passage celebrating the work of Bob Stern, my former supervisor:

"[. . .] When I see what richness the work of our colleagues around this great place have brought us, I am reminded of how their research sustains us. Sir Ian Kershaw's books on Hitler are on sale in every bookshop in the world, and his collaboration with the BBC Timewatch series on the Nazis shed a unique light on how fascism emerged, sometimes most tellingly in the testimony of its ordinary participants. It offered insights and judgement which can´t be ignored.


Mike Braddick's new book on the Civil War brings together a social and political history which helps us understand how we came to be who we are as a nation, who we are. Focusing on a period when fundamental questions were being debated before a public audience in a new and radical way, Mike´s work casts new light on the transition of Britain´s passage from one era to another, from the world of reformation to the world of enlightenment.
Leafing through Bob Stern's new book on Kant, an outstanding academic is considering in detail issues of autonomy, moral realism and ethics. In an age which constantly challenges our ethics and morality in new and demanding ways, are we in any position to think less about issues such as these?
And there is so much more. If we look behind the office doors of our own departments, there are treasures of insight and analysis which demand worldwide respect for their quality of thought, for the new ground they continue to break.  [. . .] In a world of global competition and profound change, we want our children to have more than just bread to live on. And to do that, they will also need to appreciate the value of the full range of knowledge, and why our good colleagues do need, and deserve, some bread. [. . .]"

Let us hope other VC's share this vision and are willing to defend the higher education sector effectively.

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