Following the momentous U.S. presidential election outcome, five of UON’s researchers weigh in on this world event from academic perspectives including health, social justice and education.
Pro Vice-Chancellor, Faculty of Health and Medicine
“These are unchartered waters. Throughout the election campaign Trump has been light on details and policy specifics. To my knowledge he has not articulated a particular position on the funding of research in general or medical research in particular. He has also not released a detailed higher education policy that might have clarified his attitude towards Universities. In all probability education and research will not be priority areas for a Trump administration. Thus while ‘the art of deal-making’ may feature prominently in the curriculum of Trump University, we will have to wait for some time before coherent policies emerge in the wake of his unexpected victory.”
Head of School, Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Education and Arts
“The Post-Trump election commentary will likely illustrate new tensions between generations of voters. During the election campaign we saw the politics of gender and ethnicity play out – indeed, blow up – in ways that were not always illustrated by the vote itself. But, like Brexit, the results of the vote highlight an emerging distance between young and older voters, and in perceptions of power and society, and of access to social capital.
In Higher Education, we should all be alert to the likely diminution of access to minorities and those from disadvantaged backgrounds to universities, as well as distinct attacks, possibly violent, on critical appraisals of social and cultural phenomena and change such as those framed and examined by the Humanities and Social Science disciplines. That has happened under other conservative US governments. The perception of a privileged role for education in general, and healthcare, is attenuated.
My own major concern about the result lies in the way social debates have become so crude and simplistic – leaving scholars far less room to create meaningful conversations around really vital social problems in an anti-intellectual media landscape.”
Head of School/Dean, School of Education/Faculty of Education and Arts
“Results of the US Presidential election will mean significant advancement of three educational movements that have been undertaken not only in the US, but also in the UK. In addition to a probable scaling back of the Federal Department of Education, Mr. Trump and the likely Secretary of Education, Dr. Ben Carson (a former opponent of Trump), will advance the conservative positions on:
1) Local control of public schools
2) Parental choice and
3) Removing “political correctness” from the K-12 and higher education curriculum.
The philosophical bent of the initiatives will be to let parents and markets decide where students attend school, including advancing initiatives in privatisation and charter schools. Higher educators will be scrutinized for political correctness in courses, doctrine and research.
These initiatives began in the Reagan administration in the 1980s and have led to increasing gaps in student achievement between children from wealthy families and those from lower socio economic means. These policies have also led to equity initiatives being back shelved in favour of high stakes testing regimens and punitive teacher/principal accountability schemes.
With education funding already in jeopardy in nearly all of the states that supported Trump, it will interesting to watch how low income citizens, minority groups and disenfranchised Whites react to a lack of investment in public education that will continue under a Trump presidency. Ironically, many of the elite Whites who voted for Mrs. Clinton in those same states already arrange their children’s schooling in wealthy suburbs or private schools as Mr. Obama did himself.”
Interim Head of School,Design, Communication & Information Technology, Faculty of Science & Information Technology
“The way that Donald Trump self-positioned as the man who would make America great again both rallied and divided the population. We still have much to learn about the way self-positioning works. It’s clear it is an ongoing task requiring continuous attention and maintenance, not just by an individual but also from networks. Communities who perceived their lives weren’t as ‘great’ as they once were could tie Trump’s ‘great again’ narrative to their own hopes for better times. This meant Trump’s self-positioning was amplified across their networks.
As Trump transitions into the Presidency his position as ‘fixer’ may become more secure and he’ll be less reliant on his supporting network. However, if his supporters don’t see him deliver ‘the fix’, he will need their network support more than ever, and it’s unlikely to remain strong. This presidency will be fertile ground for examining personal and network positioning-power in communication and PR.”
Senior Lecturer and Indigenous Student Liaison, Newcastle Law School, Faculty of Business and Law
“In a mass protest vote against the established political forces of our time – globalisation, free trade and neoliberalism – Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States.
Trump’s platform is explosive. He plans to build an “impenetrable wall” along the Mexican border, exploit trillions of dollars of untapped fossil fuels, ensure a conservative Supreme Court, undermine a rising China, and massively increase US military forces to create “an America that WINS”.
Already, the US shapes the extent to which the international community can respond to wicked global problems. Trump’s ‘America First’ platform pivots his country away from global collaboration. His vision depicts immigrants as threats, conflicts as solvable so long as enough force is applied, and climate change as a fiction. The now-likely US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement will cripple international efforts to curb global temperature rise. An exclusionary approach to migration will feed growing international resentment towards the vulnerable millions seeking sanctuary from conflict, persecution and environmental destruction. And all people devoted to gender equality are left to wonder how the most powerful office in the world can be handed to a publicly sexist candidate.”
School of Humanities and Social Science, Faculty of Education and Arts
“Donald Trump may well be good news for China and Russia, two countries that are forging increasingly close ties. Trump has vowed to work with Russia in defeating ISIS, and his focus inwards on the United States means that there will be less interference by the United States in the Asian sphere. In short, while Clinton would have been the most aggressive American president seen for a while, Trump is a signal of a world order with far less American engagement. It may well be read as the sign of the decline of the American empire. The fact that Russia and China (with some qualifications) have welcomed Trump’s presidency speaks volumes.”