the fallacy of “seek wisdom”

images-1the university of western australia has as its credo ‘seek wisdom’, often accompanied by a tagline of “achieving international excellence”

let me say at this point i have a certain level of fondness for uwa.  i did my first degree there.  2 of my kids have studied at uwa.  it is in a beautiful location and the grounds and buildings for the most part are magnificent.  sandstone and exotic trees.  uwa has produced an enviable array of world class practitioners from its schools and has a notable alumni

but i have lost respect for uwa.  it has an apparent obsession with international rankings that falls well short of wisdom.  why?  because it causes the uni chiefs to lose sight of what is most important – that being a beacon of local knowledge and laying a pathway for other community members to follow.  rather than seeking local wisdom and demonstrating it in a real “touch it, feel it” sense to all western australians it is consumed by investment in infrastructure and ego development without giving thought to its consequences.  just to meet some formulaic requirement of various popular media and demonstrate ‘progress’ up the uni league tables.  for what decent purpose?

an example to all birders and avian students

MC900053207pegCalyptorhynchus latirostris (carnaby’s cockatoo) has this status

  • Endangered Schedule 1 – Western Australian Wildlife Conservation Act

  • EndangeredFederal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act


Calyptorhynchus latirostris  is endemic to the south-west of wa.  the population of Calyptorhynchus latirostris has halved in the last 40 years


the major threat to the survival of Calyptorhynchus latirostris is habitat destruction on the swan coastal plain.  not even uwa disputes this


Calyptorhynchus latirostris is an active user of bushland located in shenton park (underwood avenue).  this bushland is owned by uwa


this patch of bushland is one of the last few remaining stands of native timber on the swan coastal plain suitable to the life history of Calyptorhynchus latirostris

MC900053207peguwa persisted in its efforts to sell/develop more than half of this land for housing

MC900053207pegits wisdom suggests this action will not harm the survival prospects of Calyptorhynchus latirostris.

such leadership and wisdom by uwa!  not.  why would supposedly enlightened people do this?  are they blindsided by ego and the clamour for better scores on the international league tables?  to what end?

uwa has let down the wa community rather than pave the way with wisdom.  it shamed its own credo.

as somebody remarked (i am not sure who), allowing Calyptorhynchus latirostris to become extinct in this century is a greater travesty than the elimination of the tasmanian tiger.  agreed.  shame uwa.

wisdom gets worse.  i pinched the following extract from the nedlands electors association (inc) website;

in 2008 premier colin barnett (then an opposition back bencher) pleaded with the labor government to save this ‘rare and significant’ site from development saying:

“[i have] come to appreciate the special significance of the underwood avenue site . . . the jarrah, banksias and tuart woodland which is without comparison on the swan coastal plain . . . may I suggest that the government negotiate with uwa, with a view to acquiring the site and paying reasonable compensation”

premier barnett now says the issue has “moved on” since he wrote the letter.  moved on by this much:

“the other issue is a lot of urban subdivisions are being caught up with federal legislation and i’m not shifting the blame but its all to do with carnaby’s black- cockatoos and its just becoming ridiculous.  if you go up high rise buildings in the city and look over the city it’s a green city there are trees, parks bushland areas everywhere and yet we are finding that property development and land subdivision are being restricted by issues of biodiversity and so called endangered species. i think its grossly exaggerated”  (transcript from Radio 6pr 1 april 2010)

good one colin, you must have driven past uwa and got some “seek wisdom”.  i don’t know about the labor party and mark mcgowan, probably more of the same.  i will do some checking and leave a post

 i don’t think much of the collected wisdom of our ‘leading’ university and politicians.  no real wisdom at all