Let’s make academics more accessible & less elitist

In the past few months, I have used the term “anticolonialism” about 367 times. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve explained Edward Said’s “East vs. West dichotomy” to an unsuspecting econ major, I’d probably have 10 cents—and that’s two too many.

I love political theories as much as the next person who loves political theory, but I can’t help but realize how disconnected they are from everyday life.

From a policy standpoint, political theories are difficult to implement in our society today. Aside from engaging in discourses with our professors, writing tedious academic papers, and perhaps a few drunken debates with an unsuspecting econ major at a bar, there’s only so much we can do with Marx’s theory of labour.

Outside of a politics lecture, you’d be hard pressed to find people who are familiar enough with political theory to begin to apply it.

Attending university is a privilege, and obtaining a higher education means being surrounded with like-minded people.  Often, we find ourselves stuck in a vacuum where similar ideas are continuously bounced back and forth with each other, and we forget that’s not what real life is like.

The privilege of higher education isn’t accessible to everyone. As a result, access to information and learning can be limited, despite us living in a world where a quick Google search can answer even the most specific questions.

It’s like we have circle-jerked into a thesaurus-like contest of who can use the most efficacious word. We’ll get two high fives from the university department in the meantime, but we haven’t made any meaningful change.

Even learning through other avenues, such as academic journals or media outlets, is prevented when their contents are locked behind a paywall—another barrier that drives many away from expanding their knowledge of political science from credible sources.

Additionally, access to our campus libraries and databases will be revoked once we graduate from university.

These financial barriers not only bar people from accessing important and accurate information—they also perpetuate the spread of misinformation when people turn to easily-accessible non-credible sources. This is why people reject important political theories in favour of ones that have no real foundation—and it’s dangerous.

Obviously, I don’t mean to denounce any of the vital material university students have the chance to learn. Rather, I call on us academics to find better ways to reach those with different educational backgrounds from our own and make learning more accessible.

Instead of hiding behind theories and buzzwords, it’s time to re-evaluate the elitism we pride ourselves on. Let’s use the academic validation we’ve earned for the betterment of the world—not just to sound smart.

Sydney is a fourth-year political studies student and The Journal’s Senior News Editor.

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