Do Not Attend Linkoping University(LiU)
In 2022 I attended Linkoping University for an Applied Ethics Master program. I had wanted to take the program in Switzerland and had gotten accepted only to find out that the country does not issue student visas to anyone over 30. Since I am just a bit over that age I was dropped. Sweden was my back up and oh how I ended up regretting that decision. I enjoyed the few weeks of summer I was there but the country and culture really did not agree with me and the winters are terrible(and I come from Chicago!), though that discussion is for another time. The university is my focus here and it was awful from day one. Following is a copy of the letter explaining my issues with the program sent to faculty while I was considering withdrawing.
I have had issues with this program from the beginning but have tried to stay positive and hoped that communication with the faculty would produce changes, but we continue to focus fully on philosophy and yet again had a discussion about Rawls and justice in our most recent seminar. For a course titled Globalization in an Applied Ethics program I would expect to be discussing something practical, such as why America and the EU believe that they can put up trade restrictions and bans on materials from China for how they treat their own citizens(Uighurs) and the ethical implications arising from such restrictions. Instead, we continue to discuss basic philosophy.
What we study is my biggest issue but there are other contributing factors. For a one-year master's program I expected to be in class for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, with 6 hours of homework per day. Instead, we have two classes per week of two hours each and then an impossible 23 hours of required reading per day. There is an Applied Ethics program in the UK that also meets two times a week for two hours each time, but that is an online degree, and that is what this course should be, an online program. There is no reason for requiring students to move here and attend lectures in person when 98% of the class is reading at home.
Over the past month I have written to the professors of other Applied Ethics programs and reviewed their syllabuses to make sure my idea of Applied Ethics is correct and to get as much information as possible before coming to this decision. While philosophy is an important part of practical ethics, it is only a part. Other schools only focus on it briefly at the beginning of their program. A two-year program in Austria has one month of philosophy at the start and then never again. They focus on laws, case-studies, ethical history, current events, culture, and other practical subjects. All the other programs follow a similar structure. Only LIU focuses so intently on philosophy but doesn't mention it in the syllabus. According to the limited LIU syllabus on the website, we should be following a much more practical route and not be discussing so much philosophy. The syllabus also does not mention that we will only have classroom instruction for 4-hours per week. Anyone attending a one-year master's degree would be under the assumption that there would be full-time classroom instruction, as I did.
Then there is the instruction, which has been chaotic. From the small annoyances such as not having a master schedule and having to click all over Lisam(the online portal) just to find out when we have class and where, to instructors seeming to have no idea what they are supposed to be doing. Our first instructor repeatedly stated that she was given the class at the last moment and used it as an excuse for not being prepared. Instead of leading discussions and moderating, the instructors sit quietly and let our discussions descend into either complete gibberish or anarchy and yelling matches. Two of our instructors have been foreign guests who seemed to have no communication with faculty. We, as the students, had to tell them what our assignments were and what we were supposed to discuss in the seminars.
I do not feel that LIU has honored the description of Applied Ethics that I applied for. I have fulfilled my duties to the school. I was honest in my application, paid my fees, moved to Linkoping, and performed my studies. In return I have gotten an on-line basic philosophy course with no practical(applied) material. It may be possible that the second semester focuses on practical issues(there is one question in the Migration course that is actually of practical use), but I cannot accept paying 40.000SEK more in tuition to find out. Even if the second semester is more practical ethics, I am unable to accept that half of an Applied Ethics program focuses solely on philosophy. Not just philosophy in general, but on Rawls in particular for some reason.
My final issue is that we have shared all of our courses with Erasmus undergraduate students. The only difference between us and them is that we are required to write 500 words extra on our exams. Either they should be getting master's degrees, or we should be considered undergrads. Not only are our classes electives for them, but they also have no pre-requisites. So, our master's level classes are available to first year students as an elective. That surely is not right.
My classmates, a majority of whom also have serious complaints of the program, have asked me to try to fix these issues by communication with the faculty instead of withdrawing. While I wish this as I have already put quite a bit into this program, I know that there is no possible way to change a curriculum so quickly. I can no longer accept reading or discussing philosophy that doesn't advance my knowledge of applying ethics to real world issues. I will no longer participate in readings and seminars comprised solely of "compare X's definition of justice to Y's". Therefore, I see no alternative for me but to withdraw from these studies.
I feel sorry for my classmates and anyone else that has taken this program. Holding an Applied Ethics degree from LiU will mean having some knowledge of basic philosophy but zero understanding of Applied Ethics. I withdrew at the end of the first semester and have no regrets about my decision. Sweden and this university will no longer take up space in my memory banks or thoughts.