Friday, July 06, 2007


I attend Liverpool University's graduation this morning (sorry, no photos), in the humble capacity of member of the academic procession. This morning's honorary graduand, Professor Akhbar Ahmed, is highly topical! From the web page linked to above:

Professor Ahmed is recognised as an influential figure in the promotion of inter-faith dialogues worldwide who has acted as adviser to HRH The Prince of Wales and President George W. Bush on Islamic issues. He currently holds the Ibn Khaldun Chair in Islamic Studies at the American University in Washington, D.C. and his book, Journeys into Islam: the Crisis of Globalisation, has been widely acclaimed by leading political and religious figures globally. A distinguished anthropologist and filmmaker, he has previously served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UK.

His speech, on the need for inter-faith dialogue to replace conflict, was pitched squarely at the young graduating members of the audience, and was perhaps rather simplistic; the conclusion, in a reference to Liverpool's history, was All you need is love.

I do not attend this afternoon's ceremony, in which the honorary graduand is Sir Terry Leahy, boss of Tesco; presumably his speech was different in both style and substance. This morning was the one where all the computer science (and related degree) students were graduating.

I did not attend any graduation ceremonies while I was working at Warwick University. At the time I was deeply unhappy about the way government was treating universities in the UK and saw graduation ceremonies as a signal that nothing has changed in the academic world during the past 100 years, and everything's just fine. Indeed, I'm not entirely happy with the funding situation today, although that situation has improved somewhat, and the path few years can be seen as a painful transition to a fee-paying system. Now, I feel like it would have been interesting to attend one or two of the Warwick ceremonies, to see how they compared.

After the university ceremony, I attend a departmental reception for students graduating from our department. I used to attend the equivalent ones at Warwick.

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