Jacques Ranciere took a jab at the European Graduate School in a recent interview, questioning the institution’s radical potential. The interview, with Duane Rousselle (a student at EGS), was published back in November on Rouselle’s blog.
In the interview, Rouselle prods Ranciere about the “crisis in higher education” before the French theorist turns his attention towards “alternative” models of higher education. He notes “I think that it is problematic that the EGS now gives theses, gives PhDs, because, precisely, I think that the value of such institutions is to give no diploma.”
But, basically, I don’t think the EGS or the Global Center have the vocation of becoming something like an alternative institution. Mostly because those institutions are based on money. Mostly! And, so, well, I think that those kinds of institutions can be interesting precisely because they don’t follow the normal ways of education. I think what is interesting perhaps is this kind of acceleration of education in one month, in a few weeks, you know. We have this kind of accelerated education with students – it is kind of like brainstorming, perhaps. But, precisely, this means that those institutions should not really imitate the university. So, for example, I think that it is problematic that the EGS now gives theses, gives PhDs, because, precisely, I think that the value of such institutions is to give no diploma. Of course, people don’t pay for those institutions. But, you know, that happens. So, of course, I don’t think that we should focus on those institutions as being the alternative. I think there are many alternatives.
The European Graduate School is a private school located in Switzerland. Students take intensive lectures with the “who’s who” of philosophy over the course of a month. Faculty include Giorgio Agamben, Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler and even Jacques Ranciere. It’s essentially a critical theory summer camp that will give you a Master’s degree for $20,000. Not a bad deal, considering the American alternatives.
And, before all your European Grad Schooler’s freak out, it’s not all bad. After all, Ranciere central thesis about emancipation and politics is “shit’s complicated.” Ranciere is also known for trolling anyone and everyone vaguely associated with the profession of “philosopher.”