Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Honorary degrees

The universities in Italy have started awarding honorary laureas to people for their celebrity rather than academic merit. Valentino Rossi, the motor cyclist, received a laurea (una laurea magistrale honoris causa in Comunicazione e Pubblicità) from Urbino.

The danger of this is that academics don't really know the people they are honouring.

Recently I saw a letter recommending a celebrity for an honorary laurea degree for his/her "riconosciute doti scientifiche e morali". The same day, by coincidence, the papers were full of stories regarding legal investigations into this person's behaviour - the scandal of the month.

Scandals in Italy, however, are so frequent that are quickly forgotten.

Update: I hesistated between writing the phrase "scandal of the month" or "scandal of the week". I chose wrongly: today the newspapers speak of something new: "la più colossale frode di sempre".



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