terça-feira, 19 de agosto de 2008

University of Leicester: interesting series of conferences and some comments


Portuguese universities should follow this (and similar) examples, to be competitite in the better sense of the word (=to survive), assuming that:

- English is now a universal language for everyone in current daily life and in knowledge improvement
- Conferences on crucial themes of our time are fundamental to put a University on the map
- These events MUST BE internationally spread
- Teaching in English should be encouraged in any University
- The above statements do not in any way contradict a politics of expansion of Portuguese language, which is not only an ancient, beautiful language, but also is connecting us to one of emerging potencies: Brazil.
- We should not mistake this problematic, emboyding the need to speak and work a/in a language that EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS, an attitude that should go side by side with a politics of improvement of the Portuguese. Both are sides of the same coin !!!
- a peripherical (?) geographic situation IS ALSO AN ADVANTAGE: we read several languages, we may TRANSFER knowledge and experience from different cultures. This is crucial. French philosophy for instance has a tremendous impact in Anglo-saxon contemporary critical thought: but we, differently from many English speaking colleagues, we can read and understand well the French language, which is crucial, because any translation is always a sort of transformation of meaning... it is even VERY useful
(not to say compulsory) to read the same book in more than one language.
- To sum it up, polyglotism is absolutely fundamental today. Any person needs to know and to be able to use several languages.
- We should get rid of complexes of inferiority or superiority. We, Portuguese, we may succeed, and particularly in the fields of non-technical sciences, critical thought, etc, as long as we maintain a contant contact with the centres where this knowledge is being elaborated. Those centres are not fixed places, but fluid: they may occur where conditions are created to allow such situations to emerge. Sometimes we do not need lots of money: we need imagination, creative thinking.
But we also need to admit that the UK has probably today the leadership of an encouraging intellectual milieu of interdisciplinarity. Practical and efficient, the English speaking colleagues have understood that they have conditions to "sell their product". Why are British university campuses full of people in Summer? Because they organize there meetings all over the year, just like an hotel: they have high levels of occupation... try and experiment to receive a newsletter about "scientific" events in the Western world and compare their thematics with most of the things occuring in Portugal...
We need to follow the good examples, in our own way.

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