[CITASA] 3 positions at Nanying Tech U Singapore---avoid

Philip N. Howard pnhoward at uw.edu
Wed Aug 5 15:02:27 EDT 2015

Hi Patrick and CITAMS:  Lots of good points, ultimately the judgement of fit has to be made on both sides...department and candidate.  

I think Singapore often gets a pass because it is authoritarian but at least capitalist authoritarian.  Yes there are lots of rumors about the abuse of academic freedoms around the world.  But this is a very recent and well documented abuse that directly impacted our profession and domains of inquiry.  While those general organizational problems can appear in many kinds of universities, it is _grossly_ misleading to equate academic freedoms and human rights in Singapore with those in the US, UK, Europe.  As professionals, I'm sure we'd all agree that it would be good for the NTU admin to see that its disrespect for academic freedoms makes it hard to recruit new scholars.

Cherian George seems to have landed well in Hong Kong (!).  He is a friendly and accessible person and maintained a very professional decorum throughout the process...job applicants should always get background info on a department they are seriously looking at.  

BTW Christian Sandvig chimed in over AIR but is not on CITAMS, and I've obtained his permission to share this post here.  


Hi Everyone,

I signed the 2013 Harvard Berkman statement cautioning Internet researchers
that the signatories did not believe NTU meets international norms for the
protection of academic freedom. http://cheriangeorgestatement.tumblr.com/
Although the statement was speculative in 2013, since then a former NTU
Dean admitted that the controversial firing was not an NTU decision and was
imposed on the university by the government. http://bit.ly/1S8hYxT

Why would a bunch of international Internet researchers take a stand on
this issue? It's not as though the signatures on that letter are all people
who are deeply involved in Singaporean academic life. (I'm not.) I'm sure
many of those who signed knew almost nothing about Singapore. And why
Singapore? The world is full of injustice.

The answer is that many Singaporean academics at a variety of levels have
asked for or supported international pressure on this issue. Some of them
may not feel comfortable posting publicly about it with a viewpoint
opposite to Patrick's. Singapore is a rich country with excellent PR. It is
a realistic concern that foreign academics studying the Internet, media
and/or communication (people who tend to have intellectual commitments to
the freedom of information) may not know that they are applying to what
Human Rights Watch calls a "textbook example" of a repressive state.


-----Original Message-----
From: CITASA [mailto:citasa-bounces at list.citasa.org] On Behalf Of Patrick Williams
Sent: Wednesday, August 5, 2015 7:37 AM
To: citasa at list.citasa.org; Air-L at listserv.aoir.org
Subject: Re: [CITASA] 3 positions at Nanying Tech U Singapore---avoid

I saw Philip Howard's response to the NTU jobs on the CITASA and AoIR listservs. Just to follow up on it.

I'm not sure where the information that the president of the country overturned Cherian George's tenure decision came from, but my understanding (and FYI I'm an associate professor at NTU) is that NTU's board denied his tenure; there was no overturning. Certainly there were many faculty, including me, who were shocked by the incident, but there were probably just as many who were not surprised. I learned very quickly after moving to NTU that engaging in actions (whether through activism, publishing research, etc.) that directly criticize government policies could have dire consequences. But I would disagree that "it is a bit early, and a bit risky, to invest your academic career in Singapore." The research environment is lively and active, the faculty is internationally diverse, and faculty are supported in their work....as long as they don't bite the hand that feeds them. [Yes, that may feel like a slap in the face to a liberal academic, but it's also increasingly a reality in higher education everywhere.]

The Cherian George case was political, but then again people are denied tenure or fired every year at universities for political reasons. You didn't do what your dean asked asked you to do once and got on her/his bad side....you didn't collaborate with the 'right' people in a lab or department or wherever....you told your students God doesn't exist....such stories circulate in the US, UK, Europe, and elsewhere as well. Even tenured professors in the US feel unsafe at some institutions, from teaching on sensitive issues to not securing 'enough' grant money...Singapore is nothing special in this regard.

There are many people who don't get tenure at NTU, but many who do. I would agree that scholars doing advocacy or activist work that would target Singaporean public policy might very well do better elsewhere. But there are many scholars in the humanities, social sciences, and communication who do great work otherwise. Therefore I would add a caveat to Philip's statement: "If you study communication, technology, journalism, media, or have domains of inquiry that are culturally, politically, or economically sensitive, this is probably not a good place for you."  A more accurate statement would be: If you study any of those things and plan to critique Singapore governmental policy, this is probably not a place for you." Folks interested in a job in Singapore can begin by looking at faculty profiles and seeing what kinds of things profs here are publishing, for one thing. Or just apply and, if you get a campus interview, ask good questions about your concerns during your visit. If you don't get a good feeling, you don't have to take the job.



On Wed, Jul 29, 2015 at 7:42 AM, Philip N. Howard <pnhoward at uw.edu <mailto:pnhoward at uw.edu> > wrote:

	Alas I don't believe these jobs will be good for many people on this list.
	Unfortunately NTU, and Singapore, has a bad reputation for academic freedoms.  Very recently the president of the country overturned a tenure decision involving one of our colleagues, Dr. Cherian George (phd Stanford), and neither his department nor his university were able to stand by him.  I was one of his external reviewers and got drawn into the campaign to have the university and government respect the usual system of peer assessment.
	If you study communication, technology, journalism, media, or have domains of inquiry that are culturally, politically, or economically sensitive, this is probably not a good place for you.  Singapore as a country may open up in time, but you probably don't want to be the next test case for academic freedom!  It is a bit early, and a bit risky, to invest your academic career in Singapore.
	Dr. Philip N. Howard
	Professor, University of Washington
	Professor, Central European University
	     GPG Key: 9CAAEABC
	     www.philhoward.org <http://www.philhoward.org> 
	**New Book**
	Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up. Yale University Press, 2015, www.paxtechnica.org <http://www.paxtechnica.org> 
	-----Original Message-----
	From: CITASA [mailto:citasa-bounces at list.citasa.org <mailto:citasa-bounces at list.citasa.org> ] On Behalf Of Barry Wellman
	Sent: Sunday, July 26, 2015 3:29 PM
	To: communication and information technology section asa <citasa at list.citasa.org <mailto:citasa at list.citasa.org> >
	Subject: [CITASA] 3 positions at Nanying Tech U Singapore
	As Rich sez, a great dept.
	   Barry Wellman
	   FRSC                 INSNA Founder               University of Toronto
	   http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~wellman           twitter: @barrywellman
	   NETWORKED:The New Social Operating System.  Lee Rainie & Barry Wellman
	   MIT Press            http://amzn.to/zXZg39        Print $14  Kindle $9
	Message: 1
	Date: Sun, 26 Jul 2015 19:06:34 +0200
	From: Rich Ling <riseling at gmail.com <mailto:riseling at gmail.com> >
	To: AoIR mailing list <air-l at listserv.aoir.org <mailto:air-l at listserv.aoir.org> >
	Subject: [Air-L] Three positions in Comm School at Nanyang
	        Technological   University, Singapore
	        <CAO5RENCvT+mAsfUcwA5oTtOUAfydYGRVdP16dbD62r5ZeJ1Xiw at mail.gmail.com <mailto:CAO5RENCvT%2BmAsfUcwA5oTtOUAfydYGRVdP16dbD62r5ZeJ1Xiw at mail.gmail.com> >
	Content-Type: text/plain; charset=UTF-8
	Dear all,
	There are three positions open at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. There is a Full and an Asst. Prof. position in the area of ICT and an Asst. position in Integrated Marketing Communication.
	The University is very dynamic. It is rising in the rankings and it is a great place to work.
	Rich L.
	CITASA mailing list
	CITASA at list.citasa.org <mailto:CITASA at list.citasa.org> 
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	CITASA at list.citasa.org <mailto:CITASA at list.citasa.org> 

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