Postgraduate Degrees in Agitprop

Article excerpt

WHEN reading about the anti-globalization rallies reported in the papers from Sydney last month against the World Trade Organisation, one has to wonder about the warped ideas of those cosseted middle-class children who seem so determined to keep the starving children of the Third World impoverished. At the time of the demos, the world trade ministers meeting inside the Novotel Hotel in Sydney were striking a deal to deliver life-saving medicines to poor nations.

Where do the ideas come from? As protester and Australian flag-burner Elizabeth O'Shea explained, she became radicalized by the ideas taught at her elite Lauriston private school. This privileged education is continued, readers will be pleased to learn, at our Universities. I mean officially. The RMIT University in Melbourne has several departments and courses dedicated to the cause. It has a Community Advocacy Unit that teaches how to become a more effective activist, a Centre for Global Sustainability and a Globalisation Institute. Victoria University has announced a new Postgraduate Program on Public Advocacy and Action, developed with the support of Greenpeace, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad and Amnesty International Australia. Similar courses can be found throughout Australia within faculties in our universities.

The truth is, there is a growing market for universities to train ideologues and activists. And of course, the Dawkins unis are ready-made to accommodate. Behind them are the unions and NGOs. The NGOs are extremely wealthy, with a large turnover of participants, so they need a continuous stream of trained activists. Using universities saves them money on training, and provides a convenient ideological 'screening' process.

Just imagine, a B.A. Hons major in Agitprop. Practical sessions presumably will vary, depending on what's on at the time. The RMIT Advocacy Unit's Website is advertising a conference on Asylum Seekers and Australian Activism, boasting the rise of a (new social movement'.

The `Centre for Global Sustainability' is a'special' project of the Vicechancellor, Ruth Dunkin. It instructs students in the virtues of triple-bottom-line accounting, presumably so that when they go out into industry they can hone the skills needed to ensure that their employer goes broke ... ethically. Like RMIT. There are rumours that it is going broke-and that students are demanding Dunkin resign. …