The Two Universities of Texas
The Daily Texan | Thursday, February 22, 2007
There are two universities operating under the name the University of Texas.
One is a world-class academic institution. Its faculty is professional and dedicated to disinterested scholarly inquiry. Its courses observe the principles of scientific method, and its students are taught to respect evidence and to demand more than one perspective on matters that are controversial.
But there is a second university, which is quite different in its methods and goals. This university's faculty regard themselves as activists, not scholars, and their method is that of authority, not science. Their curriculum is designed not to teach students how to conduct a disinterested inquiry, but to convert them to a sectarian ideology and recruit them to its causes.
Students in this university are taught to respect dogma rather than evidence. They are offered a curriculum that is relentlessly one-sided, one that denies legitimacy to dissenting points of view. Students are being given an indoctrination, not an education.
Among the departments and programs at UT that are parties to this scam are the Communications Studies Department, the Center for Women's and Gender Studies and the Division of Rhetoric and Writing. Space only permits a glimpse of the problem.
The stated mission of the Center for Women's and Gender Studies does not propose a disinterested inquiry into the history and condition of women or the nature of gender and its place in different societies. Instead, its stated mission is "to advance knowledge and understanding about ... the role that gender plays in structuring society."
The idea that gender structures society is an ideological claim, not a program for scholarly investigation. This claim is the organizing principle of gender feminism, a radical sect of the broader movement. Not surprisingly, the reading lists for courses in the department are almost exclusively drawn from radical feminist texts.
Graduate students in an Introduction to Women's and Gender Studies course, for example, are provided with a reading list that includes scores of texts written from a radical viewpoint. Only one text blatantly criticizes the radical feminist perspective. This is a book written by two founders of women's studies who subsequently left the field, because they felt it had become totally devoted to a political ideology to the point that its practitioners regularly denied scientific findings that conflicted with their political agendas.
This is the way the course syllabus for the introductory class refers to the book: "Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge, professing feminism, passim (note that this represents anti-women's studies - prepare to refute it)." This is the instruction of a political ideologue, not an academic scholar.
This is one example, but a glance at other curricular offerings in this and related programs reveals similarly unprofessional agendas. Many of the professors who teach these courses are neither trained historians nor sociologists nor economists, yet the subject matter they teach will often be, such as courses on the history of radical movements, globalization, race or all three.
Communications and Social Change, taught by a professor of communications studies, is such a course. It has no academic rationale except to recruit students to the causes favored by its Marxist instructor: "After the historical survey of social movements, the second part of the course asks you to become involved as an observer and/or as a participant in a local social movement."
The course requires only two texts, naturally by two Marxists (Howard Zinn and UT's own Robert Jensen), both situated on the far left of the political spectrum. There's no harm in reading Zinn or Jensen, but a properly academic course would include their critics on the right and left.
There are enough such courses at the University of Texas that students can enroll in a degree-granting curriculum which has no academic component, but is a comprehensive training program in the theory and practice of radical politics.
What is the rationale for lending the prestige of this university, which is the prestige of science, to ideological causes?
What is the justification for deceiving students that they are getting an education, when in reality what they are getting is a political indoctrination?
And how can any self-respecting liberal countenance academic programs in which there is only one side presented to the most controversial issues of the day?
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