Saturday, 5 December 2009

Global University

Desmond invites stars to help start global cultural university

(SIMON CARSWELL Finance Correspondent)

BUSINESSMAN DERMOT Desmond has invited 163 luminaries from the fields of music, film, theatre, literature, academia and business to submit ideas to help him establish a “global university” for culture and the arts.

Mr Desmond first floated his idea to establish a university of the arts at the Global Irish Economic Forum, the brainstorming event held at Farmleigh in Dublin which was attended by well-known Irish figures from around the world.

The financier wrote this week to the 163 individuals inviting them “to be a founder, a designer and an architect of this initiative” and requesting their expertise to assist in the initiative he is calling “Cultural Odyssey”.

Mr Desmond said in the letter that Ireland should “exploit its deep and world-renowned cultural legacy and talent to establish a global university focusing on culture and the performing arts”.

“As the world economy continues its inexorable shift to becoming knowledge-based, we have many competitive advantages,” Mr Desmond wrote. “The combination of our cultural pedigree and our technological leadership suggests to me that we can create a lasting opportunity for Ireland’s future generations.”

Mr Desmond enclosed a list of people he has invited to participate in the project. They include musicians Bono and U2, Enya, The Corrs and Van Morrison; Hollywood actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Colin Farrell and Liam Neeson; film directors Neil Jordan and Jim Sheridan; and writers Brian Friel, Roddy Doyle and Sebastian Barry.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin has also been asked to participate in the project. Among the business figures invited to submit ideas are telecoms and media entrepreneur Denis O’Brien, former Intel chief executive Craig Barrett, and Gary McGann, chief executive of packaging group Smurfit Kappa.

Mr Desmond has invited participants to join private discussions on the project’s website. The discussions will range from “syllabus development to architectural concept, from education futures to entertainment futures, from physical location to models of excellence for university design”.

The businessman says the process will be “a fluid, dynamic, responsive approach to collaboration, and your input will change the shape of the conversation”.

Mr Desmond says the project should be united with other similar cultural initiatives within the third-level sector.

This would “optimise the outcome” and “ensure absolute fairness and integrity in any proposal we bring to Government”, he said.

“It is my belief and conviction that the unique Irish spirit is undefeatable,” Mr Desmond says in his letter. “It is this uniqueness that makes you the outstanding world talent that you have become.

“Through the combination of these elements, we can all be part of creating a new chapter in Ireland’s history for future generations.”

The Irish Times, Sat. 5 Dec 2009

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Do we not already have a university of the arts? Or several, really? They're called...universities. Institutions such as Trinity College Dublin, for example. I do not understand why we should spend all this money setting up a university when the arts and humanities departments in the ones we have are being starved of funding. And these are the universities that produced some of these great figures, as if they achieved what they have in spite of their education and not because of it. The mention of output should alone be cause for blood running cold. What does that mean and how can it be envisaged as relevant to the arts? I'm all for thinking dynamically and critically, qualities often great admired by university teachers and tutors amongst their students. Why do we need a new university? I don't think the case has been sufficiently made.


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