The defining challenge of our time: aka mediocrity forever?

One of the not particularly “inspiring” virtual conglomerates purporting “excellence” — and/or facsimiles thereof — is The Conversation. With a virtual presence in Australia, Africa and the U.S., their motto is “Academic rigor, journalistic flair”.

Some time ago (i.e. prior to the original Australian site’s virtual expansion), I had signed up for their E-mail notifications. Today’s issue was “sponsored by” a group I’d never heard of before:


“Sustainable energy” is the “defining challenge” of our time?! Wait a minute, has this “defining challenge” superseded “climate change”?! And, if so, has anyone told the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

Hasn’t the UNEP (and its many arms, fingers, elbows etc), aka the voice of doom and gloom, been flogging “climate change” – and/or facsimiles thereof, including “global warming” – as the “defining challenge” of our time forever. Well, at least for the past forty-two years! But I digress …

Clarity of “sponsorship” is not exactly demonstrated in the image above; so, as a public service to you, dear reader, my mouse and I decided to click-through in order to discover the actual sponsor. During the course of our investigation, we learned that the sponsor is the “International Energy Centre” (IEC). Ever heard of it?! No?! Neither had I.

Of course, they have a website that – in keeping with today’s template of choice – is virtually indistinguishable from far too many others. Not surprisingly buzzwords echo while bouncing around in abundance, as well. For example, on their About page, one finds (my bold -hro):

The IEC uses a collaborative model between leading universities and industry to co-develop and co-deliver postgraduate education and innovative solutions to ensure its programs are industry relevant, current, and highly engaging. The International Energy Centre (IEC) is a not-for-profit company established by three of Australia’s leading universities in the energy domain – The University of Queensland, The University of Western Australia and The University of Newcastle – and Glencore as the leading Industry Foundation Member.

It is an explicit objective of the four foundation members to build the IEC membership by including other leading international organisations (universities, government agencies, industrial organisations) to form a robust community to address those challenges of moving to a low carbon economy.

How “original” and “distinctive”, eh?! While – at least at first glance – I found no evidence of anything “transformative”, and I didn’t choose to investigate their “Innovation Management” menu item, I did discover that proof-reading is not exactly their forté:


Setting aside the “Scholarhips” (sic) at this self-declared “centre of excellence” as a particular mediocrity of note, did you happen to spot any further familiar recyclings of the self-glorifying kind?!

With sincere apologies to the late Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘How do we trust IEC, let us count the ways’. If our planet is, in fact, “doomed”, the view from here is that it may well be to academic uniformity and/or enforced conformity** – and ‘mediocrity forever’.

Amazing, eh?!

** See the awesome Alex Cull’s recent capture of the ludicrous consequences of a prime example of the latter in action, so to speak.


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