What is the point of higher education if it doesn’t make people happy? | Jonathan Wolff

Forcing universities to compete with each other is a bad idea. What we need is a Teaching Happiness Framework

In The Methods of Ethics, a book read only by philosophers with an overdeveloped sense of duty, the late Victorian utilitarian moralist Henry Sidgwick argued that other philosophers of his day were wrong to believe that human beings act only for the sake of their own happiness or pleasure. There is a second spring of human action, he argues: the pursuit of excellence. A poet, a philosopher, or a sportsperson working obsessively may hope to be happy, but, more likely, what matters to them most is what they can achieve.

Sidgwick’s work faded from fashion soon after his death in 1900. At Cambridge University, where he had been professor, he became a symbol of times past. The young Bertrand Russell and his fellows referred to him as Old Sidg. But his fortunes revived in the 1980s, and he is being read by undergraduates again. I don’t know if the current generation of university regulators ever studied him, but, if so, they have only remembered half of what he taught. We have the Research Excellence Framework, and the Teaching Excellence Framework. Where is the Research Happiness Framework, or the Teaching Happiness Framework?

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Climate and economic risks ‘threaten 2008-style systemic collapse’

Environmental and social problems could interact in global breakdown, report says

The gathering storm of human-caused threats to climate, nature and economy pose a danger of systemic collapse comparable to the 2008 financial crisis, according to a new report that calls for urgent and radical reform to protect political and social systems.

The study says the combination of global warming, soil infertility, pollinator loss, chemical leaching and ocean acidification is creating a “new domain of risk”, which is hugely underestimated by policymakers even though it may pose the greatest threat in human history.

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