Tag Archives: University of Cambridge

Ultra-Matum: Can the West Withstand Brigata Curva Sud-Style Globalisation?

Back in the more innocent days of the early 2000s, the person who would become Mediolana’s Creative Director & CSO (‘CD&CSO’) was enjoying a leisurely coffee (or at least a simulacrum of coffee) in a Cambridge Starbucks with a member of that relatively rare specimen: someone he knew from his own course. Much of the accompanying conversation is of historical interest only, but one explosive idea from that otherwise gentle discussion has stayed with our CD&CSO, namely the notion that just as Japan had successfully copied and then vastly improved upon mid-twentieth century Western industrialism, both Japan and Asian countries more generally could do this and more in the realm of cultural production.

In other words, the J.League – the top tier of Japan’s professional football pyramid, still a novelty but already viewed as wildly successful – was merely a harbinger of things to come. J.Movies, J.Novels and J.Design would all equal and then surpass their Western equivalents in terms of both technical and artistic merit; this was a process that was going to define the next hundred years.

In 2017, this process is not merely underway, but is attaining a depth and breadth that constantly surprises. As the excellent recent COPA90 mini-documentary These Asian Ultras Will Blow Your Mind illustrates, it is now the case that PSS Sleman, a second-tier football club in Indonesia – replete with its own ultras, the already-fabled and disproportionately female Brigata Curva Sud – can produce chants, choreography and devotion on a level that the more uncritically consumerist parts of Europe seem to have forgotten exist.

The big corollary of these developments is the burning, largely unspoken question of our times: can the Western world – particularly the United States – really handle multi-directional globalisation, a form of interaction which supplants the traditional core-periphery model with a more level playing field amongst partner-type entities?

At the time of writing, this question seems a rhetorical one. But erecting trade barriers at a time when – as richly evidenced by capital flows small and large – psychological barriers to commerce are coming down is not the answer of self-assured nations. Only by moving up the value chain can (semi-)monopolistic and lucrative positions be maintained. The alternative – decline at the hands of faster, hungrier competitors who can replicate cheaper than you can produce – is nothing but a prescription for more empty populism.

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Filed under Business, Creativity, Economic Development, Football

Really Dirty Money: Europe’s Largest #Academic Endowment ‘Stuck in Pre-History’!

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From High Jinks to Low Regimentation: What Mel Giedroyc Tells Us About Academic #Productivity

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 21.20.19Regular if not borderline obsessive readers of this blog will by now be aware that we will seemingly always have time for Mel Giedroyc, former co-hostess of the late 1990s cult (and mildly subversive) daytime television show Light Lunch. Giedroyc – who is one of a handful of British celebrities with Baltic origins, roots she happily refers to despite the wave of xenophobia which does so much to define contemporary cultural discourse in the UK – was recently featured in CAM, the (University of) Cambridge Alumni Magazine (My Room, Your Room, Issue 75, Easter 2015), exchanging observations with current student Matt Rees at her alma mater, Trinity College.

The main thrust of the piece was the contrast between Giedroyc’s carefree late 1987 matriculation cohort and their contemporary equivalents: laughter and disaster characterised the former, while the latter is notable for emphasising academic work to the exclusion of everything else. Indeed, the comedienne remarked that the top-down time-based targets promulgated by the university authorities – students are now excepted to put in a minimum of forty study hours per week – is brutally akin to having a (‘normal’) job.

Juxtapositions aside, the real question is surely this: is either approach viable? After some contemplation, we at Mediolana think not. In an era of deep globalisation and spiralling student debt, chaotic, alcohol-fuelled university careers are simply unviable from pretty much every standpoint; however, the reduction of degrees to monotonous, corporate-style programmes is hardly a recipe for economic rebirth, let alone joy. Relentless work regimes are good for medium-term social control – and little else. Nothing less than a total reconceptualisation of academic work is required.

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Starting to Add Up: #Singapore #Maths #Teaching Method Proves UK Hit!

 

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Bragging Rights Worth Bragging About: London Cements Position as Global #Highered Epicentre!

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Never a Lender Nor a Borrower Be? UK #HigherEd System’s Elite Sector ‘Turning into a Rogue ATM!’

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Filed under Economics, Education, Football

We’re Numbers 1-10: 2014 Times Higher #Education Supplement World Reputation Rankings ‘Show Possible Bias’!

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