Friday, 10 November 2006

Academic Freedom Under Attack - 2

After watching the SBS program online again, I realized that Political Science departments would face a particular issue no other academic department would face (or at least to the same degree of external influence).

As clearly pointed out in the background material (US Campus watch), lobbying groups and political parties have immerse interest to influence the academic curriculum in Political Science. Such interests, whether they are for or against certain viewpoint, would try to see the opposite viewpoints being suppressed or condemned and their own viewpoints being promoted and glorified. This has given rise in the "war" in the funding of academic positions, in the hope of creating an emphasis of certain voice.

This is simply unhealthy for educating an informed citizenship.

Academic, as part of their job and before "publish or perish" is abandoned, will continue to publish their viewpoints in various forms. They are totally entitled to their views. However, when that view is delivered in classroom, they may be accused of teaching/preaching biased viewpoints by one or other political interest groups. When "teaching" in Political Science departments is based on "lecturing", such accusation of bias, whether it exists or not, is a matter of opinion.

Understanding complex situation and issues, such as the Middle East, is immensely difficult and listening to lectures is the not best way to acquire and assimilate such understanding. The political science role play simulations, pioneered by Dr Andrew Vincent, provide an open and transparent exercise which demonstrates unbiased approach to the subject matter. In such simulations, students investigate the real world by doing research from different viewpoints, act out the decisions in a simulated environment and construct a real appreciation of the complex situation.

Role play simulation, not only engaging, fun and effective, is the ONLY way political science teachers should approach the subject matter in order to avoid being accused of being biased.

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