Friday 5 May 2017

What price academic integrity?

On 2nd May 2017, the Catholic Education Service sent a letter to Diocesan Schools Commissioners and Directors of Religious Education about the new publication: Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic Schools

It includes this sentence: Following this, St Mary’s University, in collaboration with the CES, has produced guidance on tackling homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic Schools.

This document, as I have already noted here and here, contains substantial amounts of text lifted verbatim from other sources, (and not just any sources, but sources that are, let us say, not wholly aligned with Catholic teaching or a Catholic worldview...) without any acknowledgement.

In academia, this is a pretty serious issue. If done without the consent of the originator, it is plagiarism; and in Catholic terms that is an offence against (inter alia) justice.  If done with the consent of the originator (eg when a student buys an essay online) but still passed off as the work of the person (or body) claiming to have written the work, it is no better; and in Catholic terms that is an offence against (inter alia) truth.

Senior academics I know tell me that the academic reputation and the academic integrity of their institution are two of the most important things for which they have responsibility.

The new document, Made in God's Image, carries the logo of of St Mary's on the front. Clearly this is to lend it academic respectability. 

How did such a poor piece of work, that contravenes the most fundamental academic principles (and is, incidentally riddled with typos and grammatical errors) get this endorsement?

Who wrote it - and why is that not clear?

What would happen to the poor Catholic teacher, presenting the material in good faith when challenged by an irate parent?  Just imagine:

Parent: Why are you presenting Stonewall  and lgbtyouthScotland material as Catholic to my children?

Teacher: I assure you that I am not. I am only using material prepared by St Mary's University and the Catholic Education Service!

Parent: Exhibit A; Exhibit B!

Teacher: (Confused and embarrassed): Oh...  I didn't know...

This is clearly a disgrace by any academic or Catholic standards.

I imagine that the governors of St Mary's (Chair: Archbishop of Westminster or his nominee; ex officio members include... oh, the Director of CES...) will be embarrassed by this: I hope that they address it promptly and openly,

1 comment:

pattif said...

Don't hold your breath, Ben.