Scott Sommers’ Taiwan Blog

Academic Freedom in Taiwan and Canada

Posted in Uncategorized by Scott Sommers on May 27, 2009

I just received a notice about a posting on Dr. Erik Ringmar’s blog Too Many Mangoes. The post is ostensibly about academic lethargy in Taiwan. Dr. Ringmar points to a lack of accountability to the Ministry of Education for the vast sums of money they have recently been handing out.

As I point out in my comment to the post, I am a little uncomfortable with the whole thing. Only a month ago, I was writing about a Canadian professor, Dr. Denis Rancourt, who refused to follow any instructions from his employer, the University of Ottawa. Dr. Rancourt’s refusal to do anything other than what he wanted to do was widely interpreted as an issue of academic freedom.

Of course I understand what Dr. Ringmar is trying to say and completely agree with him. But I am very uncomfortable with the implications of all this. Professors in Canada ignore their employers and define their own responsibilities – it’s academic freedom. In Taiwan, it’s academic irresponsibility.

Why should the relationship between a professor and his professional responsibilities be defined differently because of his or her nationality?

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3 Responses

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  1. Michael said, on May 27, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    Well said. Denis Rancourt has been totally irresponsible to the detriment of his own students, but claims it’s academic freedom. He’s also been unwilling to answer basic questions about his true relationship with university president Allan Rock. Google rockourt if you want the background on this case.

  2. Woofus said, on June 1, 2009 at 4:39 am

    My university has recently been holding “meetings” every week. We sign in, collect bian dang (boxed lunches), then leave. Apparently the MOE gives them money for having meetings.

    Last year they started like, a dozen “institutes” (such as the “Hakka Institute” or the “Institute of Moral Life”). These basically amount to signs clamped onto the doors of various faculty offices. They got money for having the institutes too.

  3. Scott Sommers said, on June 1, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Woofus, while I know the e-mail you provided isn’t real, I would still like to find out more about this situataion. If you write me directly, I guaruntee that anything we talk about will be kept in the strictest privacy.


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