UNIVERSITY OF GOTHENBURG
Last month, the opening of the Segerstedt Institute was met with harsh criticism by faculty at the University of Gothenburg. According to the government-funded assignment, the Segerstedt Institute was inaugurated at the university to “develop and disseminate knowledge and methods to reduce the recruitment of people to violent ideologies and movements and to racist organizations.” The faculty members who boycotted its opening stated in an op-ed article published in the Swedish newspaper, Dagens Nyheder, that the Institute is a product of political agenda, threatening autonomy and aimed to address concerns over the country’s growing Muslim population, continuing that “The focus on combating violence embracing extremism implies that the university is subordinate to a political discourse that is founded in some of the political parties in the parliament[.]” A professor at the university, Bo Rothstein, defended the Institute’s inauguration, acknowledging that although racism and violence in Sweden could be due to historical structures in place, the research that emerges from the Institute could help find solutions to issues of racism and violence sooner rather than later.
UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO
Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan
The University of Tokyo is just one of eighty-six national universities in Japan that will be pressured to cut back on humanities degree programs by April 2016, in favor of placing focus on funding science and technology degree programs. The National University Development Plan is a series of reforms recently set in place by the country’s education ministry in an effort to help college graduates develop skills useful in global job markets. The reforms are the first of their kind, forcing universities to submit a six-year operational and development plan for review and approval by the Japanese government in order to receive funding over the six-year period. According to the education ministry, these reforms will help boost Japan’s global standing in science and technology research after recently sliding behind their western counterparts in rankings, specifically in the fields of medical, environmental and robot technology. Among Japan’s academic community, these reforms have been met with mixed reactions. Some feel that these reforms will discourage foreign academics to conduct non-science or technology research in Japan or consider a position at a Japanese institution. Others feel that these reforms will threaten of smaller, “less prestigious” universities since these universities will receive less funding due to their overall low contribution to global job markets.
UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI
Columbia, MO, USA
On Saturday, Colombia attorney Jennifer Bukowsky electronically filed a lawsuit on behalf of Associate Professor Royce de R. Barondes against the University of Missouri, contending a rule at the university prohibiting firearms on campus violates state law. Amendment 5 was added to the Missouri Constitution in August 2014, strengthening gun rights and adding language that would surmount future restrictions on one’s right to bear arms. Missouri state law allows for a gun to be stored in the passenger compartment of a vehicle, or on one’s person with a valid concealed carry permit, but the state is not included on the list of eight states that allow people to carry weapons on college campuses: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Mississippi, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin. The suit names UM’s Board of Curators and UM System President Tim Wolfe as defendants. The reason stated by Bukowsky for filing the suit is Barondes’ desire to carry a concealed weapon legally for self-protection in light of “recent events on campus.” Amendment 5 will require of UM to show a “compelling interest” served by the gun ban, likely to be that of public safety. Although Amendment 5 could strike down UM’s prohibition on weapons, courts have traditionally upheld gun bans on college campuses. Nonetheless, the suit will be telling of just how far Amendment 5 will go in defending gun rights.