Erasmus, Freedom and Focus

There are 83 of us from universities around Europe here in Lisbon on an Erasmus Exchange Week.  I’ve talked to staff from Poland, Finland, Estonia, Germany, Lithuania, Slovenia, Turkey, Greece, Romania — a veritable Eurovision of delegates. Although we are all working in different university jobs, what binds us together is sharing, promoting and learning about different views of education around the world. (Views from Castelo de Sao Jorge below).

Today, the 25th of April, is a national holiday in Portugal– Freedom Day — celebrating the 1974 Revolution and the free elections that started a year later. As a group for part of the day, we joined Lisbonites visiting historic sites and as I talked to others, it occurred to me that although we are all from ‘free’ nations, we all have different notions of freedom.

At one pole, freedom can be a burden, and the other pole, it can be an exhilerating release. Most of us are probably in the middle — grappling with the choices we make which may be opposed to the choices others make. It seems so many countries are divided these days, and no doubt, this is the price of freedom of choice and of information.

And this is where I take heart in the freedom of information that our UCL libraries offer.  We can offer the parity of online access, the freedom of reading a myriad of subjects and the freedom to feedback.  This freedom, however, does not come without a price. Just because information is ‘free’, does not mean that it is current, relevant, authoritative, accurate or even fit for purpose. This is when we must apply the CRAAP test for evaluating information.

Limiting our search for information to what is current, relevant, accurate, authoritative and purposeful may narrow our view of a subject….

but it can also focus our searches and can  often lead us to new and undiscovered paths.


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