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John Higgins

Provisional truth is good enough

Scientific consensus generated by theoretical speculations makes the world tick, argues Swedish astrophysicist Bengt Gustafsson.

Universities and state control: Cloudy days for academic freedom

The Constitution’s framing lets the state take strong hold of universities.

Recolonising the humanities?

Too many elite groups would have us stifle debate about academic freedom in the country.

Gerwel: ‘Class progress or class war?’

An extract of the last interview with public intellectual Jakes Gerwel, before he died, about the national democratic revolution among others.

Dilemma of the humanities

The humanities in South Africa are caught between a rock and a hard place -- <b>John Higgins</b> assesses the state of the sector.

Academics need to shout louder if they are to survive

A strict focus on numbers and vocational training is at odds with the findings of research about the value of academic activity.

Too many chiefs

One voice was significantly absent from the conversation at Blade Nzimande's recent higher education summit -- that of chalk-face academics.

Reproducing mediocrity

''When do you go back to work?'' asks an in-law, over a New Year's Day braai, curious about the apparent peculiarities of academic life. “Well, there's admin stuff to do starting next week, though teaching proper doesn't begin till the end of February” I explain; “but at the moment I'm really trying to get to grips with my writing and research projects. What I'm working on right now -”

The anti-realists of academe

''What did you bring to read?'': the usual question I put to my academic guests. For renowned Marxist critic Terry Eagleton's week of classes at the University of Cape Town last month, there were three authors: Marcel Proust, Fredric Jameson and John le Carré. ''It's funny, isn't it?'' notes Eagleton. ''You mention the name Proust and it's so immediately offputting.''

Inefficient efficiency

A significant tension -- if not downright contradiction -- is at work in the on­going transformation of South Africa's university system. Under the singular name of transformation, two projects with distinct and largely opposed political intentions are at work in changing the ecology of higher education. Current policy is stretched between the pull of democratic redress and the push of neoliberal reorganisation.

A separate development

REVIEW: Heaven Forbid by Christopher Hope (Macmillan). Heaven Forbid represents a deepening of Hope's vision of apartheid South Africa, writes John Higgins.

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