In Slovak academia, it doesn’t pay to be proved right

What supervising an undergraduate thesis taught me about how the system works (or doesn’t).

(Source: Unsplash)

I was recently lucky enough to supervise the bachelor-degree thesis of a Slovak undergraduate. The experience revealed, in microcosm, some admirable aspects of the Slovak education system, as well as some of its more retrograde features.

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My student – let us call him Milan – was interested in how disinformation was affecting Slovakia’s politics and foreign policy orientation. Disinformation was a live issue back in 2020, when we started discussing it, but mainly because of the way that Covid conspiracy narratives were distorting the public debate. The effect of disinformation in the foreign policy sphere was a less hot topic.

Still, it was hot enough to cause immediate jitters among those overseeing thesis subjects. It was not (so far as I could tell) that the presiding academics were politics-averse. It was more that they feared the subject’s topicality.

Cells more considerate than whole humans

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