After visiting many old and several very new institutions of learning, as a person trained in the western academe I can use the very tools of western critical social analysis turned back upon the very places that opened my mind to critique of power relations in the first instance. Critical theory suggests that for power to remain effective, the mechanisms of that power need to remain hidden.
Today I was reading the legislative Act that founded a new university in Australia. I was curious to read any lines that suggested that a public education institution was based on open participation or access to the citizens of the country in which that school had been founded. No such lines were identified during my read.
The tenor of the Act was in relation to the power, influence and control of the central management – the university council, and its three key positions of power over the institution. Having been written during the past 15 years, with all of our learning and history behind us in the west, you would think that even legal Acts of foundation for the very institutions that represent democracy would be more wholistic, more suggestive of the kind of society we envision.
But the reality seems to be that while these institutions use the terms of sustainable and inclusive practice, they in fact and in deed promote sustainable colonisation of land, natural resources, and they patent and exploit the work of their ‘staff’ who in many respects have little or no control over their intellectual work, which has become another product of the modern university system.