M'Gonigle & Starke, Planet U (redux)

I finished and handed in my review of Michael M'Gonigle & Justine Starke's Planet U: Sustaining the World, Reinventing the University to the online journal last week, then remembered today I was going to say more about the book here too.

The review wound up getting organized around the principle of dialectic, as the authors see the term. If we see conflict as conflict, then we wind up in parallel conversations unable to understand each other. If we see conflict as dialectic, on the other hand, we cannot help but find our way to common ground.

My biggest anxiety about the book is that I got a 60's-ish utopian feel from it, and as someone born in 1970 who lived near communes as a kid, that makes me nervous. I'm a leftie, sure, but I'm more a small-town communal guy (what I used to think of as equivalent to the NDP), not ten people in one outdoor kitchen (what I used to think of as absurd). On the other hand, the NDP's current manifestation pleases me less than earlier versions did, and I'm considering joining a community garden, so....

Anyway, the complexity of my reaction is why I left this part out of the review. I want to like the means and ends that M'Gonigle and Starke set out, but really I'm most sympathetic to their desire for departure from current ways. Do I think the University of Victoria can or should be ruled by consensus by citizen-heavy but intellectually advanced local parliament? Can I take the question seriously?

In the end I said we had to use dialectic against everything we read -- including M'Gonigle and Starke. Cop-out? Probably. But I wanted to like them....


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