I’ve always questioned the priority we place on religion and it’s formal institutions. As a country, we give a significant amount of latitude to the christian denomination and I for one have never fully understood why. There seems to be this assumption that every single citizen within a so called “christian nation” shares the ideology and value systems of christians. This is fallacious at best.
Recently, the General Manager of the Urban Development Coorperation (UDC) was quoted as saying the state would perhaps need to claim lands, currently owned by the Anglican church, in furtherance of plans for urban expansion and development. To my utter dismay there has been condemnation of the General Manager’s comments. From what I gathered, persons are concerned that there was no dialogue on the matter and the government seemed to be taking a unilateral approach to seizing lands. Having listened to the arguments of those opposed to such a move, I’ve concluded that the real issue is not that the state is being unilateral, but rather, we are having a hard time accepting that the institution of the church is being subjected to the same treatment that so many other entities within the society have had to face. You see, for so long, we’ve placed the church outside of the rule of law, we’ve exalted and exempted the church from so much, that we cannot now see the wisdom in the UDC’s proposal.
The Mona campus of the University of the West Indies has announced that it will honour world record holder, Usain Bolt, with an honorary doctorate in Laws. In a press release, the University cited Mr. Bolt’s “athletic prowess” and “contribution to regional advancement” as the reasons for the award. Perhaps predictably, members of the academic community, particularly students of Law, have condemned the move as outrageous and ill advised.
But what is an honorary degree? And what is it’s use, if any?
According to The Oxford University Press, an honorary degree, or a degree honoris causa (for the sake of the honour), is an academic degree granted by a university, after the institution has waived the normal requirements for the award of such a degree (registration, residence, examinations etc). This degree is normally granted in recognition of an individual’s contribution to a specific discipline or the society in general. The university usually derives benefits from it’s association with the individual in question. Keep the preceding sentence in mind as you read the rest of this post.