New York and the Academy

It has been a great privilege of mine to have been offered a place on an integrated masters’-doctorate programme awarded by the graduate school in the arts at Columbia University in the City of New York. From this September, I will take courses in a variety of music theory and music-related topics with a focus first on tonal analysis.

I’ve just spent the last week or so moving from a small town on the west coast of Ireland to the English–speaking world’s most well known metropoles.

At the graduate school orientation we were reminded that we had elected to come to the cultural capital of the world, which is all well and good; if you could seamlessly glide from location to location across the city - something, it turns out after a day rife with local-express subway confusion - I have yet to get the hang of.

There was one curious moment during the orientation session when an invited speaker, who when trying to emphasise the unintuitive (?) point that a university degree was a token of a personal recognition of the value of knowledge for its own sake, (sub)consciously referred this aspect as “other” function of education.

It is precisely that “othering” which is causing the modern university to undergo such profound changes as it has been doing. Perhaps.