Coming back for the Christmas break I realised I had only two more modules (Environmental and Animal Ethics and Biomedical Ethics) and my thesis to complete. After that my masters would be complete! This was quite an exciting thought but it also made me realise that I should be utilising my time as best as possible and take advantage of the opportunities that come with being a student.
In November Linköping university had ‘Two Global Weeks’. During this fortnight there were a number of lectures and events that discussed topics of globalisation and sustainability. This was perfect timing for the people on my course as we had just started a new module: Globalisation and Global Justice. I attended some of the lectures with friends from my course, it was fascinating to learn about the ways in which organisations work to achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals. It felt like some of the lectures were aimed specifically at my course: during the Global Weeks we had to deliver a group presentation on UN Sustainable Development Goals and another on International Non-Governmental Organisation (INGO). During the the Global Weeks I learned so much about these things.
It was interesting to learn about global issues and sustainability while in Sweden. Coming from England I was aware of some climate change issue and government and private initiatives to recycle more efficiently. In Sweden however recycling is taken far more seriously. Sweden is the widely consider the world leader in recycling and recycling technology. One lecture by an employer of IVL explained how decisions about recycling in Sweden were made, how systems developed and the success they’ve had. There is still much work to be done. In Sweden attitudes towards sustainability are very positive. Most people seem to take the issue of climate change seriously and make an effort to ‘do their bit’ for the environment.
In the Name of Confucius
A friend on my course invited me to a film screening at the university. I love watching films and was interested to find out what type of movie might be shown on campus. She told me the title of the film but with very little other information I went, curious of what the evening would entail. The film was a documentary entitled; In the Name of Confucius. The documentary was about an hour long, followed by a Q&A session with the writer and director, Doris Liu. The film was about the setting up of Confucius Institutes in many (mainly western) countries. These institutes teach Chinese language to people of all ages. Some institutes are situated in schools or universities, either as a single class room or larger department. Initially I didn’t see why this would be an issue but as the film unfolded it explained how the institutes are funded by the Chinese government, usually giving schools, universities or school boards large sums of money. The large amounts of funding from the Chinese government make it difficult for schools to refuse having Confucius Institutes. When we look at the education of Chinese citizens, especially in rural locations, we can see that there is a lack of funding. So why does China pay for the education of western students in other countries? The documentary director believes it is a means of ingratiating western societies, a means of soft power and positive propaganda. The documentary also showed how the contracts of Chinese teachers, working at Confucius Institutes prohibit the practice of Falun Gong- a set of exercises similar to yoga.
The documentary was interesting but the Q&A was fascinating. As well as teaching me a lot about the current Chinese regime, it made me think about what we accept without question in western societies, how the media can be uses as a tool and how history has shaped the world as we know it today.
Basic Income Lecture- Jurgen De Weispelaere
In October I studied for a module called ‘Social and Political Philosophy’, in this module we learned about different schools of thought, concepts of justice, equality and liberty. We also had a seminar that touched upon the idea of ‘Basic Income’. Very simply, Basic Income is a government given sum of money; it is is given to all citizens of working age, regardless of their income or situation. Basic Income is not a new idea but in the last ten years their has been a growing interest and research on its feasibility. A study in Finland, where people were given a basic income, has just finished and the results are being eagerly awaited by interested parties.
Last week I received an email that told me that a leading Basic Income researcher, Jurgen De Weispelaere, would be in Linköping to discuss his research. I attended the lecture, as did a few other people from my course. The lecture provide further insight into the arguments for and against Basic Income.
One of the best things about being a student (again- as a masters) is having the opportunity to attend events such as these. At the university there are so many interesting events to attend which spark interest and debate, As a student of Applied Ethics, who could ask for more?