I’ve started watching a series of lectures from Harvard University online. The series “Justice: What’s the right thing to do?” by Michael Sandel is an introductory course looking at the progression of justice within society, how morals and rights are conceived and the theory surrounding them. It’s really interesting. I wish I’d found these videos a year and a half ago when I was starting to look into these issues and found myself getting very confused. The lectures are given by Michael Sandel, who makes these topics interesting and accessible. It’s a refreshing change to hear political philosophy and justice discussed in simple language, using concrete examples. If you’re interested in justice I’d highly recommend watching the videos. They’re here: http://www.justiceharvard.org/
I also think it’s nice that they’re available for free, on the internet. Harvard is one of the most respected academic institutions around, and for them to make their lectures accessible in this way makes me pretty happy. One of the main issues with justice in society is that it’s not widely understood, preventing widespread discussion of it and issues relating to it. With academics and universities making their work available in an open access way like this, it means the information is there for those who are interested, and they then can take part in the discussions around these topics, without having to pay for a Harvard University education. Of course there are some resources (like Sandel’s book) which aren’t free, but by making the more accessible aspects (such as videos) available, is a step in the right direction for higher education.
Lately the education system in Britain is getting a lot of criticism, for increased privatisation, lowering standards, not relating to job skills and so on. Highlighting issues with the way in which our education is organised is fine, however, I worry that education as a whole is getting a bad rep. Particularly higher education, which can sometimes be seen as a route taken to avoid getting a “real job”. Often education is reduced to getting a qualification rather than learning or acquiring knowledge or improving one’s self, which can be problematic. By disseminating information in the way Harvard has with this lecture series, it places the emphasis back on learning for its own sake. Qualifications are important and useful, but what is the point of getting one in a specific area if you don’t find it interesting enough to learn about anyway? Learning satisfies our interest and curiosity and allows us to understand more of the world around us. By making that more accessible on a higher level, we allow people to learn for its own sake.
Youtube has lots of videos from Universities or other institutions, including lectures, research symposiums and panel discussions. I urge everyone to have a look, because there’s probably something you’ll find interesting. If there are any know of that you like in particular please let me know!