The Academy: Doing Its Thing

 

Here is something to warm the cockles of your heart. If you were a student at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, you could enroll in an online digital course entitled “Medical Humanities in the Digital Age.” Taught by Rebecca Laroche, Wendy Haggren, and Eileen Skahill, it has as its subject — you guessed it! — the impact of climate change.

There is only one problem. As Kate Hardiman points out at The College Fix, you have to be a true believer to pass the course. Here is what an email sent out by the professors makes clear,

“Opening up a debate that 98% of climate scientists unequivocally agree to be a non-debate would detract from the central concerns of environment and health addressed in this course,” the professors’ email continued.

“… If you believe this premise to be an issue for you, we respectfully ask that you do not take this course, as there are options within the Humanities program for face to face this semester and online next.”

The professors also note this ban on debate extends to discussion among students in the online forums. Moreover, students who choose to use outside sources for research during their time in the course may select only those that have been peer-reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the email states.

You should read the rest of Kate Hardiman’s report. But you might also want to consider something she missed: Wendy Haggren is an English professor and Eileen Skahill is a sociology professor. The only scientist in the bunch is Rebecca Laroche, who is a chemist and whose research has to do with DNA. None of the three is a meteorologist or a climate scientist. None of the three has any particular expertise pertinent to the question of climate change.

It is no wonder that the professors will not tolerate students raising questions about the validity of their premises. None of them has the wherewithal to give a proper response. This is not a course. It is what used to be called a “consciousness-raising session.” And it says a great deal about the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs that it is being offered this semester.

If you are from Colorado, these are your tax dollars at work.

There are 45 comments.

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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Paul, maybe they should just call it “Brainwashing, Propaganda and Totalitarianism in the 21st Century”! That is outrageous and pathetic. Okay, I’m done.

    • #1
  2. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Me being me, here’s what I’d do… I’d sign up for the class and out-climate-change them.  Everything they said I’d plus one them and act upset that they were one less than pure like me.

    In case you were wondering, it took me 9 years to get through undergrad.

    • #2
  3. Man With the Axe Inactive
    Man With the Axe
    @ManWiththeAxe

    This really makes me SMDH.

    I once team-taught a course called, “Perspectives in Environmental Awareness,” with a biology professor who was completely progressive and an earth science professor who was somewhat liberal. My role was to supply the economic, business, and law perspectives. All three of us taught in every class meeting.

    Both of those guys were absolutely open to competing ideas. That’s why they recruited me to teach with them. I usually went third on any topic, and so I was able to offer a critique of their ideas. I had to defer to their scientific knowledge, but often, as with climate change, there are issues beyond science that they could not really speak to.

    These Colorado professors are an embarrassment to the profession.

    • #3
  4. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Shouldn’t this be under the theology rubric? It is faith-based science, preaching the Gospel of Gaia.

    Seawriter

    • #4
  5. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Another reason college is becoming less relevant

    • #5
  6. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    Sometimes I think we should give up this whole quest for truth thing and just start indoctrinating ourselves…

    Are you going to be working off your sins at APSA this weekend, @paularahe?

    • #6
  7. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I don’t see why religious institutions should be required to hire teachers or admit students who aren’t loyal to the holy scriptures as taught and interpreted by their church body.

    • #7
  8. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    How would they react if you showed up on the first day of class with a Husqvarna and looked like you knew how to use it?

    • #8
  9. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Colorado Springs.  Where dopes spring eternal.

    • #9
  10. Ford Penney Inactive
    Ford Penney
    @FordPenney

    The University of Colorado- where freedom of thought go to die.

    • #10
  11. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    Methinks the three females teaching want to be sure their classroom is, for them, a safe space.

    • #11
  12. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    I don’t like the letter at all. By doing this, the teachers are really showing that they are intolerant of new and competing ideas. Even if you did believe that man was primarily responsible for climate change, and that the results would be bad for the planet… would you feel comfortable challenging these teachers in class if you disagreed with their policy solutions? It has to create a chilling effect on discussion.

    I actually think it is important to be able to answer policy questions under certain sets of parameters. I participated in a simulation at a conference where we had to model some policies based on the assumption that man was responsible for climate change, and that climate change was necessarily bad. It is an important intellectual exercise to be able to say: “Given X conditions, these are acceptable policies. So I can see giving someone a paper where they aren’t allowed to doubt a certain set of assumptions. But that should be done in the context of fairness and openness.

    The teachers’ letter would make me nervous as a student, even if I were in agreement with them. And it would make me worry about their ability to actually give the literature in the field a fair review, given their dogmatism.

    • #12
  13. Cyrano Inactive
    Cyrano
    @Cyrano

    Casey:Me being me, here’s what I’d do… I’d sign up for the class and out-climate-change them. Everything they said I’d plus one them and act upset that they were one less than pure like me.

    This isn’t a bad idea at all.  It’s likely the only way you can encourage some introspection on the part of the students, if not the professor.

    • #13
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Susan Quinn:Paul, maybe they should just call it “Brainwashing, Propaganda and Totalitarianism in the 21st Century”! That is outrageous and pathetic. Okay, I’m done.

    Our tax dollars at work.  And for successful completion, we should forgive the students their loans.  Except for those going into  government or non-profit work.  We should charge a 50 percent surtax on those.

    • #14
  15. Paul Erickson Inactive
    Paul Erickson
    @PaulErickson

    Seawriter:Shouldn’t this be under the theology rubric? It is faith-based science, preaching the Gospel of Gaia.

    Seawriter

    No.  That would be demeaning theology.

    • #15
  16. Trinity Waters Inactive
    Trinity Waters
    @TrinityWaters

    Back in the day, we called such courses basket weaving 101.  Why bother complaining or critiquing this nonsense?  The students will get what they asked for, the dumb asses.  Hope they charge extra fees for the schmucks signing up.  Field trips to alternate universes have to be very expensive.

    • #16
  17. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    98%? These hammerheads can’t even quote bogus statistics with precision.

    • #17
  18. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Casey:Me being me, here’s what I’d do… I’d sign up for the class and out-climate-change them. Everything they said I’d plus one them and act upset that they were one less than pure like me.

    In case you were wondering, it took me 9 years to get through undergrad.

    You’d have to be prepared to out-hypocrite, out-nihilist, or out-pantheist them, depending on which angle they played.  Or maybe all three.  They’re not known for consistency.

    But what if they impose an initiation ceremony, gangland style, designed to keep out spies and informers.  They might assign each student to off a climate-denier the first week.  Points could be awarded depending on the size of the carbon footprint and public profile of the CO2 producer thus removed from circulation, which could count heavily toward the final grade.  How would you manage that?

    • #18
  19. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    I guess… if one was stuck in the class, they could simply point out that hardly any popular political solution (this rules out just killing people, though a lot of climate policies end up hurting the poorest people first) is likely to be effective at combating climate change.

    It could turn into a great way to evangelize for free markets and nuclear energy. You can pretend you are a member of the “reality based community,” one who is “only interested in ‘what works.'” And from there, just lay out plans to reduce our carbon footprint by nuclear energy and faster technological growth. Explain to them that the idea of living off wind and solar is a meme and that the need to have backup capacity when using these technologies often means more carbon is produced.

    It may be a great way to talk about markets. But. Going back to what I wrote earlier, I’d probably be very nervous about talking to these people about anything.

    • #19
  20. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    The Reticulator: How would you manage that?

    If things got hot, I’d just jump up from my seat and announce that before class, while exercising my God given right to use the ladies room, I overheard the professors say they had doubts about the science. Then “Get ’em!”

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Casey:

    The Reticulator: How would you manage that?

    If things got hot, I’d just jump up from my seat and announce that before class, while exercising my God given right to use the ladies room, I overheard the professors say they had doubts about the science. Then “Get ’em!”

    A true son of 1793.

    • #21
  22. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    In this age of indeterminate gender isn’t the real offense saying that global warming is caused by “man”?

    • #22
  23. Richard Finlay Inactive
    Richard Finlay
    @RichardFinlay

    So Christian-religion courses should be allowed to exclude other/non religions?

    • #23
  24. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Richard Finlay:So Christian-religion courses should be allowed to exclude other/non religions?

    If they wish to admit that Global Warming is a religion not a science, that would be fine by me.

    • #24
  25. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Richard Finlay:So Christian-religion courses should be allowed to exclude other/non religions?

    Depends. Not in a public university.

    • #25
  26. Richard Finlay Inactive
    Richard Finlay
    @RichardFinlay

    The Reticulator:

    Richard Finlay:So Christian-religion courses should be allowed to exclude other/non religions?

    Depends. Not in a public university.

    But if 98% of theologians agree (hah!, but still), why would we want to waste time on meaningless and obstructive and obviously mean-spirited debate?  We want to focus on constructive policies within the framework.

    • #26
  27. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Pseudodionysius:In this age of indeterminate gender isn’t the real offense saying that global warming is caused by “man”?

    Of course it’s caused by ‘man.’  Isn’t everything?

    You’re not suggesting women had anything to do with it, are you?

    • #27
  28. Pseudodionysius Coolidge
    Pseudodionysius
    @Pseudodionysius

    She:

    Pseudodionysius:In this age of indeterminate gender isn’t the real offense saying that global warming is caused by “man”?

    Of course it’s caused by ‘man.’ Isn’t everything?

    You’re not suggesting women had anything to do with it, are you?

    That’s such a genderist thing to say.

    • #28
  29. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Pseudodionysius:

    She:

    Pseudodionysius:In this age of indeterminate gender isn’t the real offense saying that global warming is caused by “man”?

    Of course it’s caused by ‘man.’ Isn’t everything?

    You’re not suggesting women had anything to do with it, are you?

    That’s such a genderist thing to say.

    You know that’s an anagram of “need grist?”

    Which seems about right to me.

    • #29
  30. Laura Thomas Boren Inactive
    Laura Thomas Boren
    @Laura Thomas Boren

    This is interesting.  For one, the OP has the professors backwards, but that’s a quibble – the scientist is Haggren.

    But after looking at the College Fix article and then the syllabus, I’m not sure what the issue is.  Truly.

    The syllabus doesn’t even mention climate change one way or the other – so I’m not sure based on what they say this class is studying where it would fit in.  It does have one week or so devoted to fracking and its impact.  It also looks at indigenous “ways of knowing” (huh?),self-diagnosis, ebola and plague, vaccinations and GMOs, and a few other kindof weird quasi-medical topics.

    But this is NOT a science course, rather an elective Humanities course.  It’s more about medical or sort-of medical ethics and empathy and a bunch of other mostly squishy stuff.

    So in that spirit, I actually understand that the teachers might be concerned that the online discussion could get hijacked by discussions on the truth/falsity of climate change or fracking.  Although again, I didn’t even see climate change on the syllabus – makes me wonder if some students were being deliberately provocative?

    It definitely is a basket weaving type of course – and I’ll bet about 95% of the students will be female as the dog whistle “empathy” is used a lot in the syllabus.

    • #30

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