As a result of the academic freedom hearings in Pennsylvania, Penn State University and Temple University have made taken a major step in providing academic freedom protections for their students. Unfortunately, the University of Pittsburgh, which is the third major public university in the state, has no academic freedom policy for students or even for its faculty. What follows is an analysis of select courses offered by the University of Pittsburgh which systematically violate long established academic freedom guidelines for American universities and the basic standards of academic professionalism to which the University claims to adhere. This is a representative rather than comprehensive list.
A statement by Professor Kathryn T. Flannery, program director of the Women’s Studies Department, which is featured on the department website, indicates its commitment to political activism rather than disinterested scholarship:
Through internships, students have opportunities to connect their academic work with their commitments to change and to learn how to become positive change agents. We also serve as a clearing house by helping to connect activist groups with the university community through our publications and online.
This official departmental commitment to “activist groups” is expressed in talks and workshops sponsored by the department including such recent lectures as, “Feminist Activism for Peace in Israel,” and “3rd-Wave Feminist Activism.” Links provided on the department website are designed to connect students to such non-academic organizations as the War Resisters League, the Feminist Majority Foundation, NARAL, NOW, and Voters for Choice.
Introduction to Women’s Studies
Women’s Studies 0100
Teaching Fellow Christine Mahady
This basic introductory course is self-evidently a course introducing students to a sectarian ideology – radical feminism, as the concluding sentence of the course description makes clear: “The course serves … as preparation for feminist theory, global feminisms, and queer theory”). It is not an introduction to an academic study of women, which would include a variety of intellectual approaches, which might include such critics of gender feminism as Christina Hoff Sommers, Camille Paglia and Daphne Patai. It is not the function of a university to provide a training program for recruits to sectarian movements, and such forms of indoctrination are violations of the long-standing academic freedom guidelines of the American Association of University Professors and American research universities generally. Critical scrutiny and self-scrutiny are core aspects of an academic approach to knowledge.
This course is designed to introduce students to some of the key concepts, questions, and debates important to Women’s Studies. Drawing on a wide variety of readings from various academic disciplines, we will consider how the category of gender helps us to analyze the lived experiences of women and men. We will be paying close attention to how gender's intersection with other categories of race, class, nation, and sexuality poses special demands for thinking about feminism's role in society. Together we will examine the relationship between feminist theory and activism, attending to both women's historical and contemporary efforts for social change. The course will provide students with opportunities to develop their analytical skills through discussion and writing and to formulate persuasive written arguments related to the course topics. The course serves also as preparation for feminist theory, global feminisms, and queer theory.
This basic introductory course in Women’s Studies presumes that gender is the principal category of analysis for the study of women’s lives in all their aspects, and that gender “intersects” with categories like race, class and nation, which in the universe of radical feminist theory entails race, class and national oppression -- an equally ideological position. The course proposes to introduce students to feminist political action – not as a subject for critical scrutiny but as an appropriate avenue for students to pursue.
Introduction To Feminist Theory
Women’s Studies 0500
Visiting Assistant Professor Frayda Cohen
This course is also frankly political. “Introduction to Feminist Theory” is not an academic, critical or scholarly examination of feminist theory. It is a course designed to transform students into radical feminists and political activists. This course would be appropriate if sponsored by a political organization. It has no place in a modern research university:
This course is an interdisciplinary introduction to the core feminist ideas and debates concerning gender, women and men, and their political, social and economic positions over the last two hundred years. While we will focus on the United States, there will be some engagement with global feminist perspectives on gender, race, class, and sexuality. In keeping with the activist nature of feminist theory, this course will approach “theory” as attempts to answer fundamental questions about the practices that shape our everyday lives, rather than merely a collection of texts. Theory in this sense is a tool for thinking systematically about how the world works, and for constructing arguments about how it “should” work. Consequently, we will pay particular attention to the (de)construction of power in both public and private relations as we critically analyze texts, discuss and present ideas in class, and complete organized written analyses that build on feminists who have come before us.
Women’s Studies 1150
Visiting Assistant Professor Frayda Cohen
The official course description for “Global Feminisms” also announces itself as course of indoctrination in a sectarian ideology, which includes recruiting students to a sectarian political activism.
This seminar explores contemporary global feminist understandings and politics. We will examine the similarities and differences in feminist issues across the globe, compare Western and non-Western, and Northern and Southern feminisms; explore the possibility of transnational or global feminist alliances and scholarship; and discuss how feminists migh.t bridge activist and scholarly commitments. Through case studies, we will consider a number of contentious issues in global feminism including sexual assault, sex tourism, and the global assembly line. In addition, we will address such questions as, What are contemporary feminisms? What theoretical approaches can feminism provide that enhance our understanding of global conditions facing women? Are women's rights human rights? What special conditions face women experiencing global (capitalist) development? Must one choose between national liberation and women's liberation?
“Global Feminisms,” as taught by Frayda Cohen, is self-evidently a course appropriate to a political training program, not to a public institution, let alone a modern research university. Note the absence, in a course on global feminisms, of any discussion of the status of women in the Muslim world. The only oppressive system recognized in this course description is democratic capitalism, under whose aegis women have achieved the greatest equality on record. This is a course in leftwing ideology not a proper academic inquiry into the condition of women.
Sex And Racism
Women’s Studies 1522
Associate Professor Jerome Taylor
Although this course describes itself as providing a “critical examination” of its subject, it is evident that the term “critical” is used to describe a radical politics, not a scholarly and skeptical disposition towards the radical perspective itself. The only subject of criticism is “capitalism,” just as one would expect from a course infused with Marxist dogmas. This deceptive use of the term “critical” is of Marxist provenance (e.g., see Marx’s famous “Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy,”) and is in fact a smokescreen for an ideology rooted in Marxist prejudice. This is yet another Women’s Studies course that is a course in indoctrination, which violates basic academic values and standards:
The purpose of this course is to provide an informed and critical examination of the nature, origin, dynamics, and costs of sexism and racism in the life of this nation and beyond. Toward this end we will explore (a) the content of sexist and racist stereotypes (nature question); (b) where sexist and racist stereotypes come from (origin question); (c) how sexist and racist stereotypes are communicated and sustained (dynamics question); and (d) the impact of sexist and racist stereotypes on victims (costs question). Beyond this conceptual and empirical examination of sexism and racism as oppressive paradigms, we will struggle also with application of “truth” and “justice” standards in rounding out our informed and critical examination of sexism and racism (e.g., To what extent are truth and justice burdened by stereotypes? Are there corresponding implications for our national and global economy? For our social well-being as a nation? For our ability to “sell” our product of democratic capitalism to other nation states?)
Feminist Methodologies and Pedagogies
Women’s Studies 2240
Professor Kathleen Blee
This is another course in radical feminist ideology. Non-feminist methodologies (referred to in the course description as “standard”) are analyzed and critiqued from the standpoint of radical feminism. Radical feminism is itself beyond such critiques. The course is designed to train students to have a radical feminist perspective – and solely a radical feminist perspective. This is indoctrination not education.
In this multidisciplinary seminar we will survey a wide range of methods and approaches to feminist scholarship and feminist teaching from the humanities and social sciences. We will analyze and critique standard methodologies for the study of gender and feminist research methodologies. We will discuss issues of professionalization, academic hierarchies, ethics, and the development of feminist communities of research. We will also focus on the application of scholarship in teaching by surveying research on the dynamics of gender, race, class, nationalities, and sexualities in the classroom and by comparing traditional and feminist pedagogical approaches.
One of the assigned texts in “Feminist Methodologies and Pedagogies” is a Women’s Studies favorite, bell hooks’ Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. The intellectual flavor of this ideological text is on display in the following statement: “In this capitalist culture, feminism and feminist theory are fast becoming a commodity[sic] that only the privileged can afford. This process of commodification is disrupted and subverted when as feminist activists we affirm ourS commitment to a politicised revolutionary feminist movement that has as its central agenda the transformation of society.”
The author of this statement is a professor of literature who confuses political activism with academic professionalism: “My commitment to engaged pedagogy is an expression of political activism… the choice to work against the grain, to challenge the status quo, often has negative consequences. And that is part of what makes that choice one that is not politically neutral.” This is a book completely in sync with a course that is not about training students in academic methods, or educating them to become independent thinkers as citizens of a democracy. It is about creating feminist activists who are hostile to the existing social order.
Africana Studies Department
The Africana Studies Department at the University of Pittsburgh is an ideological department wedded to a doctrine – “Afro-Centrism,” which is racialist and which has been characterized by leading scholars of antiquity as based on fraudulent research. In her book Not Out of Africa, Mary Lefkowitz, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities, emeritus, at Wellesley College, characterizes “Afro-centricty” as the teaching of “myths disguised as history.” Professor Lefkowitz’s summary of these myths is as follows:
There is little or no historical substance to many of the Afro-centrists’ most striking claims about the ancient world. There is no evidence that Socrates, Hannibal, and Cleopatra had African ancestors. There is no archaeological data to support the notion that Egyptians migrated to Greece during the second millennium B.C. (or before that). There is no reason to think that Greek religious practices originated in Egypt…. Other assertions are not merely unscientific; they are false. Democritus could not have copied his philosophy from books stolen from Egypt by Anaxarchus, because he had died many years before Alexander's invasion [of Egypt]. Aristotle could not have stolen his philosophy from books in the library at Alexandria, because the library was not built until [fifty years] after his death. There never was such a thing as an Egyptian Mystery System (which is a central part of Afro-centrist teaching).
The Africana Studies Department announces its political agenda on the official departmental website:, “For [Africa-Americans]… the American dream has not been realized. Clearly, an understanding of the ‘whys’ and the ‘hows’ of the exclusion of African Americans from mainstream America requires both an Afro-centric perspective on the problem and a sound knowledge of the African American experience.” It would be news to cultural icon and self-made billionaire Oprah Winfrey, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, current Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, self-made telecommunications billionaire Robert Johnson or presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama, who have all achieved the pinnacle of success in American society, and the 49% of African Americans who are part of America’s middle class, that they are excluded from the American mainstream, or that a racialist theory of African bloodlines and an “afro-centric” view of history that is based on myth and fraudulent research is the answer to their alleged plight. Yet this extremist theory is the basis for an entire Africana Studies department at a major research university like Pitt.
Africana Studies 0087
Professor Cecil Blake
This course is taught by the chairman of the Africana Studies Department at Pitt, Professor Cecil Blake. Imagine a course in “White Consciousness,” which is a course to promote “white consciousness.” This would be decried as a racist course. A course in Black Consciousness is no different.
This course is designed to ground the student in the study of African/African American history and culture from and African-centeredness or Afro-centric perspective, location, and methodology. The course introduces the student to language of the discipline, Africalogy, i.e., Africana Studies. The course further provides the student with the awareness of the elements or categories that make up the African, European, and the Asian world views.
The course in “Black Consciousness” proposes to teach students exclusively from the Afro-centric perspective, and presumes that there is such a thing as an African or European or Asian “world view.” This is not scholarly or academic. This is course in one sectarian ideology whose perspective is racist.
Racism and Capitalism
Africana Studies 1024
This is a training program in radical ideology. It is self-evidently designed to indict American capitalism as a system associated with colonialism, slavery and the slave trade and as racist. Of course, American capitalism led the world in ending colonialism and did not create slavery but accounted for less than 4% of the global slave trade in Africans (or approximately 800,000 out of a global trade estimated at more than 25 million – see Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture, p. 188) and is one of two societies – the other being capitalist Great Britain -- which are responsible for ending slavery in the Western World and much of Africa itself.
This course examines the historical growth and theory of capitalism from a global perspective with special emphasis on its relationship with imperialism, colonialism, slavery and slave trade, and the consequent global pauperization, impoverishment, oppression and the structural incorporation of Third World peoples and all peoples of color in the Diaspora into the capitalist world economic system. Next the course examines the theory, history and practices of racism with special emphasis on the United States, Europe, Africa and Latin and Central America. Finally the course attempts to trace the interactions between Racism and Capitalism and how such historical and contemporary linkages and structures combine to explain the contemporary social, political and economic predicaments of the Third World and peoples of color in the Diaspora. The aim is to demonstrate that the historical oppression of Black peoples cannot be explained without a comprehensive study and understanding of the historical and global linkages between Racism and Capitalism.
Note that the alleged linkage between racism and capitalism – a controversial idea -- is uncritically accepted throughout, along with their allegedly explanatory potential for explaining the “social, political and economic predicaments of the Third World.” This is not education it is indoctrination in a narrow left-wing and racialist perspective.
Department of History
U.S. 1877 to Present
Instructor, Paul Douglas Newman (Associate Professor of History)
The only text assigned for this course other than a history of the Johnstown flood is A People’s History of the United States by a famously crude Marxist author, Howard Zinn. Professor Zinn announces the overtly political agenda of his history in an explanatory coda to the 1995 edition. There Zinn explains to the reader that he has no interest in striving for objectivity, and that his history is “a biased account.” Professor Zinn explains: “I am not troubled by that. I wanted my writing of history and my teaching of history to be a part of social struggle. I wanted to be a part of history and not just a recorder and teacher of history. So that kind of attitude towards history, history itself as a political act, has always informed my writing and my teaching.”
The perspective that informs the nearly seven hundred pages of A People’s History is a vulgar Marxism informed by the idea that nation-states are merely a fiction, and only economic classes are “real” social actors: “Class interest has always been obscured behind an all-encompassing veil called ‘the national interest.’ My own war experience [in World War II], and the history of all those military interventions in which the United States was engaged, made me skeptical when I heard people in high political office invoke ‘the national interest’ or ‘national security’ to justify their policies. It was with such justifications that Truman initiated a ‘police action’ in Korea that killed several million people, that Johnson and Nixon carried out a war in Indochina in which perhaps 3 million died, that Reagan invaded Grenada, Bush attacked Panama and then Iraq, and Clinton bombed Iraq again and again.”
That the only textbook for this course would be Howard Zinn’s propaganda tract is grotesque. Such an unbalanced and flimsy presentation is unacceptable for a course at a major research university.
Department of Sociology
Race, Gender and Development
Assistant Professor Cecilia Green
(Syllabus supplied by Professor Green)
This is a course in radicalism. The “intersection of gender, race, and class” is an
ideological formula, which is assumed rather than scrutinized in this course.
In this upper-level course we want to look more closely at the intersection of gender, race, class, and nation in the context of historical subordination (racial and national) and contemporary globalization, as well as in the context of the struggle over feminist and nationalist meanings and claims. While the course focuses on the conditions, experiences, and identities of women, and, in particular, women of color and Third World women, it does so in the context of relations of power and historical and structural location (and relocation). Thus understanding the economic, socio-cultural and political situation of these women in relation to other social groups and external structures will be critical.
The political agendas of Cecilia Green’s “Race, Gender and Development” course are manifest not only in the above formulations but in this description offered by the instructor of a section of her curriculum:
In the third section of the course, we move to a region outside the U.S. that is part of both the “Third World” and the Americas: the Caribbean. Here we will see how colonialism and masculinist nationalisms have structured the identities, statuses, and life conditions of non-white women (the majority), how women have fought back and empowered themselves, and how they are responding to the current wave of “globalization” (amounting to new forms of economic dependency and vulnerability).
This is not a description of a Sociology course, but rather a course in radical political agendas – anti-capitalist, anti-globalist and anti-male.
School of Education
Education and Culture
Professor Mark Ginsburg
Mark Ginsburg’s course in “Education and Culture” notes that it integrates theories from a number of perspectives, including Anthropology, Political Science, and Psychology. However, Mark Ginsburg’s degrees are only in Education and Sociology. The topics covered in this course are excessively broad, and the readings, including Feminisms in Education: An Introduction, “The Hope of Radical Education,” and “Schools and Families: A Feminist Perspective;” demonstrate that the perspectives explored are ideological and not academic. Not surprisingly the course description includes a component of activism.
This course integrates research and theorizing from different perspectives in the disciplines of anthropology, history, literary criticism, political science, psychology and sociology. Attention is given to similarities and differences in cultural elements (including language, thought, and values) among age groups, ethnic/racial groups, gender groups, and social classes in the United States and other countries. Implications of these similarities and differences are derived both for understanding and for intervening in the organizations and processes of education in selected societies throughout the world.
Department of Administrative and Policy Studies
Peace Movements and Peace Education
Professor Mark Ginsburg
This course makes no pretension to being an academic study of peace movements or anything but a course designed to recruit students to radical causes. Students of this Ginsburg course are required to either construct a “Peace Proposal,” which could involve the hypothetical planning of a “protest action,” or write a report about the student’s personal involvement with a peace group, which requires that students “become participant observers in a peace education program and/or a peace-related movement.”
Term Project (50% of grade)
There are two general approaches for doing the term project: A) Peace Proposal and B) Report on Involvement in Peace Education/Movement. Either approach is to be undertaken by a team or collective of 2-4 people in accord with the following guidelines:
Peace Proposal: Select a problem (issue or concern) related to peace. Identify an audience (e.g., funding agency, educational institution, religious organization, peace group). Drawing upon your observation and interview assignments, the class readings and discussions, and other readings/research, develop (as a team) a proposal of what should be done (e.g., educational programs, lobbying, electoral politics, protest actions) in relation to this problem.
Report on Involvement: Identify and become participant observers in a peace education program and/or a peace-related movement. Each team member should create a record of her/his experiences (journal or fieldnotes on observations and interviews).
The course bibliography features the writings of radicals like Noam Chomsky, who regard America as a terrorist state, Communist Party icon Angela Davis, who has said “The only path of liberation for black people is that which leads toward complete and radical overthrow of the capitalist class.” This is not education; it is indoctrination.
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