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Higher Education, Interdisciplinarity, and some related things like Expertise and Future of Work

Welcome to my new blog. You can read more about me in the About tab, top left. I'm looking forward to getting back to 'writing and thinking out loud' about Higher Education, Interdisciplinarity and other things that interest me. You can talk to me either here or on my linked Twitter feed.


International students and UK credentials

Since I blogged on the dangers of UK universities relying on their credentials in the current climate of change in HE, I’ve been thinking that the situation is a little more interesting than I first presented it. The fact is we now have a number of different cohorts within the student body in UK HE. One way to divide up the student body is between International and Home/EU students. This is not simply a crude dividing line made on the basis of geographical identification, or

Interdisciplinarity and individuation

A tweet about this conference on ‘Promises’ has me thinking about interdisciplinarity in education: the promises it holds and the risks that come with those promises. The beauty of what an interdisciplinary eduction offers is essentially one of individuation. As such it feels contemporary, relevant and desirable. It is part of a long line of political and social developments in democracy and individual freedoms. What we all would like, surely, is to learn what we want, how we

Global anxieties, local hope

My current job takes me out to talk to young people. I visit schools, and also they come to our university to discuss the Arts and Sciences (BASc) degree. I enjoy these occasions a lot. Occasionally I get a little carried away and can’t contain my enthusiasm, and end up confusing the message a bit, but generally these are really good occasions – particularly when the students have plenty of time to ask questions and the visit becomes a genuine exchange, a conversation rather

Economist bashing – enough already?

I am one of those who has enjoyed taking a pop at many academic economists recently. Informally and to friends, I have compared academic economists of today to medieval scholastics: both beavering away on something which is more or less completely disconnected from and irrelevant to what the public understands them to be doing. In medieval times you have cloistered and often privileged monks debating theological niceties while those outside are ravaged by hunger, disease and

Thoughts on the work of J M Greer: The Wealth of Nature

Reading The Wealth of Nature by J M Greer and enjoying it very much. The chapter called The Metaphysics of Money is particularly interesting and original – at least to me. Greer’s main message is that our civilization is, at best, in slow decline as we run out of the sort of concentrated energy needed to drive the industrial societies we have had in the West for about 400 years – and that we had better start to think of ways to live differently if we want to survive. But ther

Social science and value judgements

I had a nice conversation with one of my favourite philosophers at UCL recently, a man I respect greatly. His main research area has been the philosophy of mathematics and he is a pure and honest thinker driven, it seems to me, only by the highest intellectual ideals and integrity. We talked about reason and rationality and the human difficulty of reacting to statements about probability. And yet I found myself disagreeing with him over a fundamental principle of social scien

The good ship Society – a metaphor

Our collective social, political and economic stability is like a ship. This ship travels the waves of history, floating on the seas of time, partly immersed in the natural world and partly emerging from it. The ship is fairly stable. Sometimes things lurch about a bit, and of course there are, for some, terrible periods of drought, famine and war which, in our metaphor, correspond at some times to many lives being lost and even the odd capsize or shipwreck. But for decent pe

What makes money?

Our modern economies revolve around money. The health of the economy, in one way or another, is measured in terms of sums of money. When people consider their futures, they think about the money (or lack of it) that will be involved. So what makes money? We’ll leave aside the trivial answer: mints or central banks and the like, and assume that at least those mechanisms for the creation of the material stuff of money are already up and running. Fundamentally then, what makes m

Economics – where are we?

I write as an amateur in economics. By that I mean that no-one has yet paid me for my views on economics, nor do I have any formal qualifications in the subject. But anyone who has been paying attention can see that the whole area of economics is in a strange state at the moment. On the one hand we have brilliant technical people writing papers – mostly in universities, but sometimes in ‘think tanks’ or ‘quangos’ – on something they call Economics; on the other hand most comm


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