Top Schools Aren't Requiring History





Jennifer Dekel, writing for Accuracy in Academia (Dec. 2003):

Universities today routinely scrap history courses in favor of politically correct attitude-adjustment seminars, witnesses from academia itself told U.S. senators at a congressional hearing last month. Three out of four of the witnesses identified themselves politically as liberal.

Anne Neal, J.D., the President of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) noted,"In two studies conducted by ACTA, Losing America's Memory and Restoring America's Legacy, we discovered that not one of the top 50 [colleges and universities] require a course in American history of their graduates."

Only five institutions required any history at all. Instead, students are picking from course offerings that include"From Hand to Mouth: Writing, Eating and the Construction of Gender" at Dartmouth,"Witchcraft, Sorcery and Magic" at Williams College, and"Global Sexualities" at Duke.

Robert David Johnson, a Professor at Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, explained that"a federally funded grant, distributed to 12 colleges through the American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), with an apparently non-controversial name (The Arts of Democracy)… promises to produce students who will understand the heritage of American civic ideals; be able to resolve moral dilemmas posed by U.S. foreign policy; and comprehend the fundamental premises of U.S. democracy."

"Despite these promising claims, the program contains not even one political science, history, economics, or philosophy course exploring American government or international relations."

Neal said that a course description for"The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance" at the University of California, Berkeley stated," conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections." Although the University called the description"a failure of oversight," the professor, also a leader of the Students for Justice in Palestine, was not reproached.

Johnson described his own personal account of an attempt by Brooklyn College of the City University of New York to deny him tenure.

The college based its case against Johnson upon a handful of senior colleagues' secret letters, which were known as the"Shadow File." The"Shadow File" letters attacked Johnson"for three violations of prevailing campus orthodoxy," including Johnson's objection against a college post-9/11 forum in which no speakers supported U.S. or Israeli foreign policy, Johnson's attempt to search for a new professor in European history based upon the candidates' scholarly record rather than their personality or gender, and Johnson's particular scholarship and teaching, of constitutional history.

According to Johnson, one of the file's contributors degraded his teaching because he taught courses dealing with"political history, focused on figures in power." Such an"old-fashioned approach to our field [attracts only] a certain type of student, almost always a young white male [with an interest in] narrow [topics]," the contributor wrote.

Anthony Dick, a student at the University of Virginia (UVA), said that a highlight of the schoool's politicized agenda is manifested in the University's efforts to establish a mandatory"diversity training program." Dick said that the proposed program" centers on topics such as race, ethnicity, gender, identity, and other controversial issues. One UVA administrator has described its purpose to me as 'instilling community values' in students."

Although at UVA the administrators do not take such initiatives themselves to implement diversity programs, they do so while succumbing to"significant pressure from vocal student groups who champion so-called progressive causes," Dick said. Dick explained the effects of such a program, referring to similar training implemented at other colleges and universities:

"In an invasive exercise at Swarthmore College in 1998, students were lined up in their dormitories according to their skin color, from lightest to darkest, and asked to speak about their feelings regarding their place in line. In Skin Deep, a nationally distributed diversity-training film, students are summarily informed 'intolerance has once again become a way of life' on American campuses. The movie's 'study guide' goes on to assert dogmatically the necessary and proper role of racial preferences in higher education, the undeniable problem of white privilege, and the need for students to fight against the 'internalized oppression' that lurks within each of them."

At the hearing on October 29th before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, Chairman Senator Judd Greg (R-NH) called the lack of intellectual diversity on college campuses both"pervasive and damaging," but said that this problem diminished significantly over the last 30 years.

Neal said,"half of American professors identify with the Democrats, a third call themselves independent, while a tenth of the respondents identify with the Republicans. A much higher percentage of faculty members surveyed - 72% - describe their own ideology as 'left,' while 15% self-describe their ideology as 'right.' Even in the science, math, business and medicine sectors, faculty who identify themselves as Republican are in the minority," according to an Academic Study Survey conducted by Stanley Rothman, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Smith College.

 


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