Professor Amelia Hadfield on CRS FM Radio’s “Dear Reader” programme

Professor Amelia Hadfield, Director of CEFEUS, appeared on the most recent episode of ‘Dear Reader’ on CSR FM. Hosted by Jessica Stone, the broadcast saw Professor Hadfield speak about 3 books which she felt were significant: Iris Murdoch’s The Nice and the Good, Adam Nicolson’s The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters and finally, Mark Landler’s Alter Egos: Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, and the Twilight Struggle over American Power.

In a wide-ranging discussion with Jess, Amelia discussed the rehabilitation of murder-mysteries; the role of memory and the hero in crafting both classic and modern identities; why personalised concepts of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’ is only the starting point for studying foreign policy; the folly and necessity of war; the pursuit of power; as well as the literary and philosophical underpinnings of modern politics, and why this matter for our understanding of European, American and British foreign policy.

The broadcast can be listened to here:

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We are not sheep: A student response to the Daily Mail

Ned Watkinson, one of the winners of our Jean Monnet Chair’s ‘Blog on Europe Competition‘, responds to Eleanor Harding and Tom Witherow who singled out his blog post in their Daily Mail article but not only misrepresented his point but also failed to comprehend that students are not sheep that can be ‘brainwashed’ by their lecturers.

The recent Daily Mail article, as a proxy justification to the recent actions of Chris Heaton-Harris MP, accuses university lecturers of marking down students who write pro Brexit essays. They cited Canterbury Christ Church’s Jean Monnet blog contest as an example, stating that “Ten of the 12 winning entries were pro EU, one was Neutral, and only one- talking about the EU’s failure to intervene in Catalonia – was negative”.

As the student responsible for writing the “only one” negative EU blog post, I would like to correct Eleanor Harding and Tom Witherow who seem to have entirely missed the point of my piece. Being critical about certain EU policies does not mean I hold the EU in a negative light as the article states.

In addition, to include my piece under a subheading titled “top prizes go to remainers” is disingenuous and I resent my work being used in such a fashion. If the editors of The Daily Mail had read my piece they would know that as it has no content related to Brexit whatsoever. Regarding said subheading, as Professor Amelia Hadfield corrected the Daily Mail, we as students are under no pressure to write positive essays. The Jean Monnet funding is not given for writing about the positive aspects of the EU, but objective and analytical teaching and research on Europe.

I will also take a moment to clarify: the attempt by Heaton-Harris to create a ‘hit list’ of university lecturers personal political stance is in equal parts horrifying and contemptible. It is pleasing that he was so quickly rebutted by academics, officials and members of his own party. Academic freedom is enshrined in law, to explore ideas and events free from government intervention.

The assumption underpinning this entire debate, and the request by Heaton Harris, is that students are easy to manipulate and mislead. This is not a new phenomenon; when Sir Julian Brazier lost Canterbury after being its MP for 30 years, he blamed his loss on Labours promises to ‘naïve young people’. A statement showing a lack of cognisance and a less than graceful defeat. It is very sad that it has become the norm to think universities are creating brainwashed pro-remain students. It is sad that this discourse is commonplace, and is used as a shield from criticism. If you seek to brainwash a population, you don’t start with universities. As students we are, by nature, critical, self-driven and independently minded. I would also like to state that I am not a fresher. I am a third-year politics student, and so were many others who wrote blogs for the competition. I have studied the EU in modules and independent study in my first and second years, and I have spent the best part of three years studying politics and international relations. I am entitled to have my work free from this insinuation that I have been brainwashed by my lecturers, I am entitled to be taken seriously. The Mail is more welcome to contact me to discuss the meaning of my piece, and my personal conclusions from my studies, free from university interference.

It is no secret that the majority of young people voted to remain in the EU, so what is more likely: That every anti-Brexit or pro-EU article written by students results from systematic brainwashing, or that students see for themselves that there is some truth to the notion that we stand to lose more than we gain by leaving the European Union?! If politicians, newspapers and older generations, choose to ignore and dismiss the opinions of the next generation, they are digging themselves into a hole. Then they are in a far better position to stick their heads into the sand while the world goes to buggery. No matter how abhorrent the political situation gets, and how those in power try to curtail freedom of speech and expression, we will not be intimidated, we will not be dismissed. We are not sheep.

______________________

The blog posts of Ned Watkinson and the other winners of the Jean Monnet ‘Blog on Europe’ competition can be found here.

Professor Amelia Hadfield’s reponses to the letter by Chris Heaton-Harris and to the Daily Mail article can be found here:

“Safeguarding Academic Freedom: A Response to Mr Heaton-Harris”

“Professor Hadfield’s reponse to Daily Mail Article”

Professor Amelia Hadfield’s response and corrections to Daily Mail article

In response to a Daily Mail article entitled ‘Students afraid of being marked down if they support Brexit in essays: Some undergraduates say they fear debate being ‘shut down’ by pro-Remain lecturers, published both online and in hard print on Monday 30th October, Professor Amelia Hadfield has written the following letter for the attention of the Daily Mail Editorial Board. The article primarily focused on concerns from select students at Universities relating to the impartiality of teaching on Brexit; but also included a sub-feature on the Jean Monnet Chair and the recent essay competition run by the Centre for European Studies (CEFEUS) at Canterbury Christ Church University. The following is a copy of the letter submitted at 13:00 today:

Dear Sir,

I’m delighted to correct a few points from today’s Mail Online article by Eleanor Harding and Tom Witherow.

First, the Jean Monnet structure. This is an international mark of distinction for excellence in teaching, awarded to academics the world over who engage in high-quality, innovative and critical teaching. Its objectives “promote excellence in teaching and research in the field of European Union studies worldwide” both on EU issues as well as the study of Europe in its entirety.  

Jean Monnet scholars are therefore responsible for promoting world-class teaching and research on Europe, objectively and analytically. Not for promoting the EU, or attitudes for or against it. Our goal is pedagogic, not polemic. We teach our students to think, write and speak intelligently on the basis of fact, rather than fiction, using evidence, rather than emotion.   

Second, our 2017 Blog Competition was open to all our incoming Freshers, and due to its success, Honours students. There was absolutely no pro-EU bias in the conditions. Students were encouraged to write on ANY aspect of European democracy, migration, security, identity, economics or Brexit-EU relations. Of the 12 winners, 4 wrote on Brexit, 3 on European identity, 2 on economic and fiscal matters, 2 on Austria and Spain, and 1 one foreign policy. Hardly a pro-EU outpouring. Indeed, the blogs reflects students’ ideas on the most salient issue of their generation. The awards were therefore made on the basis of insight and appraisal, whatever the student’s attitude to/against Europe.

Finally, students have a perfect right, and one enshrined in law, to express their opinion, whether they support or oppose EU integration, or Brexit itself. Jean Monnet structures are a key part of encouraging students to think critically and creatively about future UK-EU relations.

Best wishes

Professor Amelia Hadfield

Jean Monnet Chair in European Foreign Affairs, Director of the Centre for European Studies 

Safeguarding Academic Freedom: A Response to Mr Heaton-Harris

By Professor Amelia Hadfield, Canterbury Christ Church University

On Tuesday 25th October 2017, The Guardian published an article entitled “Universities deplore ‘McCarthyism’ as MP demands list of tutors lecturing on Brexit”, regarding a letter written by Chris Heaton-Harris, MP for Daventry and Assistant Whip, to UK university Vice Chancellors. In the letter, Heaton-Harris asks for “names of professors involved with teaching of European affairs, with particular reference to Brexit. Furthermore, could (I) be provided with a copy of the syllabus and links to the online lecturers.”

At best, the request represents a moment of pure idiocy. At worst, as per Professor Kevin Featherstone, Head of the European Institute at the London School of Economics, it’s “McCarthyite” in nature… “It smacks of asking: are you or have you ever been in favour of remain? There is clearly an implied threat that universities will somehow be challenged for their bias.” [1] The outrage it provoked in universities and academic associations across Britain was impressive, but not surprising.

Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris and a copy of the letter to VCs as obtained by The Guardian

Continue reading “Safeguarding Academic Freedom: A Response to Mr Heaton-Harris”

Suspending One’s Disbelief: MEP Richard Ashworth and the Tribulations of Voting According to Conscience

The team of the CCCU Centre for European Studies – Director Prof Amelia Hadfield, Graduate Coordinator Noora Virtannen and Undergraduate Coordinate Christian Turner – analyse and comment on the suspension of Conservative MEP Richard Ashworth from party whip.

On Tuesday 3rd October 2017, a resolution was put forward by Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative on Brexit, that the negotiations surrounding Britain’s departure from the European Union were not yet advanced enough to justify moving onto Phase Two of the discussions: namely negotiating the future relationship between the two parties.

The non-bidding motion was comfortably passed by 557 votes to 92, with 27 abstentions. Of the 557 MEPs to vote for the motion, 26 were from the United Kingdom. Within this group of 26 UK MEPs, 18 were Labour, 3 Green, 1 Liberal Democrat, 1 Sinn Fein, 1 Plaid Cymru and finally, 2 from the Conservatives who sit within the ECR (European Conservative and Reforms Group). Four of these MPs represent the South East of England, including Labour’s newly selected John Howarth, who replaced Anneliese Dodds over the summer, and  Richard Ashworth, who has served in the ECR since 2009, and briefly led the Conservatives in the European Parliament itself between 2012-13.

Conservative MEP Richard Ashwort | image via http://www.richardashworth.org

On Sunday 8th October, it emerged that Ashworth (who represents 9 counties as part of the South East) and his party colleague, Julie Girling (South West), had the Tory party whip withdrawn after the vote. The removal of the party whip means that for the duration of their suspension, Ashworth and Girling will not be considered members of the Conservative Party, and therefore technically sit as independents. In addition, they will lose access to the party machinery, related to media, staff and funding, and in extreme cases, can be a cause to be deselected for future elections. Dan Dalton, the Conservative Party Chief Whip in the European Parliament, wrote to the pair that the reasons for the suspension were as follows:

“The Brexit negotiations are the most important negotiations our country faces and reaching a new partnership with the European Union is in the interests of both the UK and the EU.  The resolution by the European parliament sought to delay progress in the negotiations between the UK and the EU by holding back talks on the future relationship. Given the seriousness of this issue I am suspending the Conservative whip from you until further notice.” (The Guardian, October 2017)

Mr Ashworth responded by insisting that this was ‘not a vote against Brexit (nor) a vote to derail or obstruct negotiations’. He added that the negotiations ‘need to urgently move on to trade… however, it is my view that we have not yet made sufficient progress on phase one’.

Continue reading “Suspending One’s Disbelief: MEP Richard Ashworth and the Tribulations of Voting According to Conscience”