YOU ARE INVITED
CAN ACADEMICS AFFORD POLITICAL NEUTRALITY ?
WEDNESDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 7 PM IST
Dr. Ashok Swain is a Professor of Peace and Conflict Research, UNESCO Chair of International Water Cooperation, and the Director of Research School of International Water Cooperation at Uppsala University, Sweden. He has written extensively on new security challenges, water sharing issues, environment, conflict and peace, and democratic development issues. He has published 20 books (authored and edited) more than 150 journal articles and book chapters.
There is a widely-held view that places of learning should remain ‘free of politics’ and hence academics should stay politically neutral. Usually neutrality implies academic silence in political debates, which can sometimes have immense social, economic, environmental and public health consequences. The advocates of this silence argue that it’s the best course to ensure no section of students is alienated and their learning is not compromised.
But can places of learning remain ‘free of politics’ when what they teach is itself determined by political instead of academic considerations? Is silence in the face of political upheaval and social turbulence neutral? These are some of the questions posed by those who root for academics to openly air their views.
Getting involved in a political debate may entangle an academic in public controversies they are not well equipped at navigating. At best it may prove to be a temporary distraction from their research and teaching, and at worst it may result in highly adverse life-changing career outcomes. Many are therefore reluctant to intervene even when they have valuable information and well founded opinions to contribute to a debate. In such instances should it not be a moral and professional obligation for academics to speak up and not leave the important political discourse “to those who benefit from it”?
This is a tough question and opinions tend to diverge widely. It warrants a free and open discussion among prominent members of the academia.
Argumentative Indians is proud to present a live session on the topic “ Can Academics afford Political Neutrality?” led by Dr Ashok Swain.
We invite you to become a part of this discussion, by joining Dr Swain face-to-face in this session.