Collegiality or Harrassment? Two Sides of the PC Coin

Mitchell Langbert

At a northeastern college the chair of a department also chaired  a tenure and promotion committee that made a negative decision on an  untenured associate professor.  The associate professor under consideration had published many books and articles, and his publication record was better than the majority of tenured faculty at the institution.  However, he had offended other of the senior faculty politically by outshining them. He was accused of  lack of collegiality. The promotion committee rejected the tenure application, and that became news.  Ultimately, the university's chancellor rescinded the committee's decision. Fast forward five years.  Another professor, this time a full professor, offends the same departmental chair.  The chair accuses the full professor of harrassing a female professor.   The accusation of harassment is not referred to a personnel or EEO office, but is raised in a public, departmental meeting without investigation or hearing.  The charges are discussed publicly.  The departmental chair demands that a vote of censure be taken against the full professor. The full professor states that he was helping the untenured female professor and discussing a course with her, and that she does not claim that she was harassed.  In other words, he was acting collegially. I deduce a simple conclusion for the politically incorrect:  if you are collegial, you will be called a harasser.  If you are a talented hard worker, you will be said to lack collegiality.

Missed Opportunity: Summer Readings for Incoming Freshmen

George Leef

In today's Pope Center article, Jenna Robinson delves into the sad history of freshman summer reading programs. Unfortunately, the books that schools usually choose are either feel-good fluff or politically tendentious tracts. Her conclusion: "Universities have one chance to make a first impression on students; they should use that opportunity to choose books that are rigorous, that challenge students to think critically about new ideas, and that genuinely introduce them to university work and intellectual life." For the most part, universities blow that chance.

The Uselessness of "Student Learning Outcomes"

Ashley Thorne

At the Chronicle, April Kelly-Woessner has an incisive piece on outcomes assessment at her university and in higher education at large. She argues that the nation is less concerned about measuring how much students have learned than with ascertaining whether universities are being efficient stewards of funds to educate. Her summary of the problems with outcomes assessment is compelling. Peter Wood's 2009 evaluation of the movement reached similar conclusions.

University of Delaware's Diversity Mania Rages On

George Leef

A blogger whom I assume to be a University of Delaware grad writes here about the latest manifestations of the school's diversity mania. It has recently established a new Center for the Study of Diversity (how much skepticism do you think there will be as to the benefits of it?) and that student course evaluations now include a question asking what lawyers would consider a leading question: were you prejudged by the professor based on your race, ethnicity or gender?

Shut Up, They Explained

Peter Wood

A Chronicle article about the NAS's latest research report draws out the PC vigilantes. Peter Wood responds.

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

This week, student journalists comment on the upheavals in Egypt, a campus police force, anxiety about graduation and whether a state needs an official pie.

Answering the Critics of Online Education

Douglas Campbell

The online classroom is different from, not inferior to, the traditional classroom, argue two faculty members of an online university.

Sexual Harassment Industry Rides Rough at Yale

Glenn Ricketts

New guidelines from the US Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights stack an already slanted deck even more heavily against the accused.

Sometimes, Teaching is Beyond Wonderful

George Leef

This is a wonderful piece on teaching.

Social Justice and Democratic Engagement

William H. Young

William Young examines the extent to which contemporary ideas of "social justice" have displaced traditional Western concepts in American higher education.

Moving? Take Us with You


Address changing? Let us know.

Food Justice Programs Popping Up Like Mushrooms

Marilee Turscak

Over the past two decades, food-related courses and food justice programs have become a hot trend in academia.

The Environmentalists Versus Trump

Rachelle Peterson

Rachelle Peterson discusses Trump's possible environmental policies and what where the college environmentalist movement goes next.

Peter Wood Reviews "The Square"


Peter Wood reviews Ruben Östlund's new movie on modern art.

Iranian Students: Beaten, Bloody, But Unbowed

Candace de Russy

AOL provides vivid and heartrending coverage of this week's vicious government suppression of the protest of tens of thousands of courageous students. We can but applaud and echo the following sentiments of a leading Iranian opposition leader -- even though the students by far outshine him in bravery :

The most senior opposition supporter in the clerical leadership made a rare public show of backing for the students in comments over the weekend. Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former president who usually works behind the scenes, warned that “suppression is not the way to run a country.” “Most students are protesting the existing situation,” he said. “My heart breaks when I see that students are suppressed.”

Supreme Court: No Privacy on State Phones, Computers, Email

Jonathan Bean

Those who work in the private sector have long known (right?) that your privacy ends at the steps of the workplace. Plan accordingly. The issue of whether this principle applied to the public sector arose in the case of Ontario v. Quon. The answer: Your public college administrators can read your email, texts, and see who you have called. Melancton Smith has a good blog on the case over at Beacon. It amazes me how few people realize this basic fact. On a college campus, the IT personnel have to be busy sniffing out the bandwidth hogs who are torrenting illegal movies, spreading malware, etc. They are good at monitoring the system -- probably better than most employers. For more on the limits of campus privacy, see my two-part Big Brother and U, Part I: Is Your University Reading your Email?

They're Mad as Hell: Grad Students Face Job Market

Jonathan Bean

As the academic job market worsens (was it ever good?), graduate students are angry, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Don't expect a protest march in the streets burning Ph.D. gowns, but the blinkered view of some tenured faculty about the job market must drive a grad student nuts. 

How Universities Defend the Status Quo

George Leef

In today’s Pope Center piece, Ron Trowbridge (whose career covers jobs ranging from English prof to college VP to chief of staff for Chief Justice Burger) writes about the response that the higher education establishment in Texas has launched against ideas for making it more effective and efficient in teaching undergraduates. The reformers have been met with a full-scale counter-attack that includes a big PR firm.


Peter Wood

Attendants called the NAS national conference of this past weekend "more intellectually exciting than any other academic conference" they had ever attended.

Seven Imaginary Curricula

Peter Wood

Most colleges don't seize the opportunity to do something original. We suggest they try a new approach, such as the labyrinth curriculum.

What Can We Do About Adrift Students?

Jason Fertig

So college students aren't learning much. Let's do something to change that, Jason Fertig urges.

Higher Sex Ed

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood examines the bewildering state of sexuality on many contemporary college campuses.

The “Marriage Premium”

George Leef

Mr. Leef makes fun of the concept of a "college degree premium" with a parallel to marriage as an earning stimulant.

College Education Is Not a Public Good

George Leef

College education is not a public good and "society" shouldn't subsidize it.

One Hundred Great Ideas for Higher Education

Richard Arum, Jill Biden, Andrew Delbanco, Joseph Epstein, Victor Davis Hanson, Wilfred McClay, Charles Murray, Ibn Warraq, Tom Wolfe, and many others share their ideas for reforming higher education. 

Tales From an Ed School Survivor

George Leef

Mathematician and math teacher Barry Garelick writes about his unhappy experiences in the “math methods” course he took while pursuing his obligatory teaching certificate at George Mason University several years ago.

Saving Civilization, K-5 Edition: An Address at Great Hearts Academy

Peter Wood

Peter Wood addresses elementary school teachers on the grammar school as the "engine of civilization" at Great Hearts Academy in Phoeniz, Arizona.

Roses and Thorns: NAS's Top 10 List for 2015

Ashley Thorne

The National Association of Scholars remembers who stood out this year in higher education. 

College Students Need Better Lessons Than 'All of Your Emotions Are Real'

Ashley Thorne

After the election, colleges turn to feelings, not civility, to guide discussions on winning and losing.

Jihadi Art at John Jay

Peter Wood

Peter Wood reviews an exhibit of art at John Jay College by Guantanamo prisoners.

Winter's Not So Happy Without Holidays

Ashley Thorne

From the student newspaper of the University of Massachusetts is an article by Thomas Moore (the student, not the Utopian) about the new policy for U Mass RAs: Don't call it the "holiday season"; call it the "winter season." I had a hard enough time as it is finding a card to send to extended family that actually read "Merry Christmas" on the front. Most said "Happy Holidays" or "Season's Greetings" or "Ho, Ho, Ho!" I thought things were bad enough. Now U Mass will try to erase even the concept of a holiday season in the name of political correctness. Moore encourages the RAs to disregard the policy in the name of liberty and free expression of their beliefs. Let's hope that if they do disregard it, the university does not try to discipline them.

A Modest Proposal for Campus Safety

David Clemens

Since the NAS report on summer reading, “Beach Books,” U.C. Berkeley has announced its own summer reading recommendations.   The theme is “Education Matters” and, not surprisingly, multicultural “social justice” predominates.  Happily, Benjamin Franklin and The Education of Henry Adams are included.  There is also No Right to Remain Silent: The Tragedy at Virginia Tech by Lucinda Roy.  As Chair of the English Department, Roy tutored Seung-Hui Cho in poetry after he was ejected from a course for terrifying classmates.  Post-tutoring, Cho proceeded to murder 32 other human beings before killing himself.  Roy argues that VaTech did not adequately address Cho’s disabilities and alleges multiple institutional failures.  I would argue that VaTech also failed to help students and teachers protect themselves. My friend the Philosophy professor enjoys alarming his students by telling them “Professor Clemens says that a gun society is a polite society.”  Well, yes.  Gun shows are the most decorous events imaginable because you never know who’s packing.  As Webster’s NRA Dictionary says, “democracy” is two wolves fighting over a lamb; “liberty” is an armed lamb. Call me perverse but I do enjoy that mine is the only car in the faculty lot with the decals “Wild Alaska,” “NRA  Supports Our Troops,” and “Armed With Pride.”  It's particularly amusing when I park next to the Volvo whose bumper sticker reads “The Goddess Is Alive and Magic Is Afoot.” Magic and the Goddess notwithstanding, I wish that more responsible teachers were armed.  I have an in-law who teaches at Virginia Tech; he heard the gunfire.  A local student brought an automatic weapon to acting class; one teacher’s office is regularly trespassed at night (hopefully only by amorous custodians). At one Cow Palace gun show, I bought MACE and a billy club for my division’s office staff.  Diminutive Rosa is alone in the evening; more than once she has had to face deranged, medicated, or otherwise menacing students.  Rosa is a tough cookie, straight outta Compton (wore a bullet-proof vest to high school), but even she gets rattled.  Better if she had training, a concealed carry permit, and a Beretta.  All campus personnel should at least handle guns so that they are not afraid of them.  To the gentle and nonviolent, this no doubt sounds like macho posturing but I grew up shooting, BB gun to 30.06 and .303, Enfield to M-1 carbine, Ruger .22 to S&W .357 magnum. I always carry a Kershaw Blur, but I’d like to be better equipped to protect my students and colleagues.  Our campus emergency plan tells us to freeze if there is an “active shooter.”  Better it if it read, “keep moving, don’t be a target, shoot back.”  Freeze?  Our victim culture is ideal for the psychopaths who desire helpless victims.

RE: What Can We Do About Adrift Students?

George Leef

Jason Fertig has written a thought-provoking piece for NAS on the problem identified by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa in Academically Adrift. He quotes from their conclusion.

Harvard Prof Loses Summer Session Courses Because of "Offensive" Op Ed

Glenn Ricketts

We learn from this IHE piece that Harvard economist Subramanian Swamy was apparently pretty distressed by last summer's hotel bombing in Mumbai, India by Muslim extremists. Swamy gave full vent to his feelings in a lengthy op ed piece there, arguing that Muslim terrorists were his native land's most pressing security problem. Shortly thereafter, he was in big trouble at Harvard where a group of Muslim students took offense and demanded that the university terminate his employment immediately. That didn't happen, but his faculty colleagues did an end-around by removing Swamy from the two courses he was slated to teach in the summer session for 2012. So: he hasn't been sacked, but he can't teach at Harvard either. His views, as one administrator termed them, are "destructive." I'll certainly grant you that they're controversial, but also well within the limits of controversy that an academic institution ought to be able to tolerate. It's good to see that many commenters in the response thread agree.

Sustainability is a Waste: 10 Reasons to Oppose the Sustainability Movement on Your Campus

Peter Wood

College students hear a lot about sustainability these days, but do you know what it really means?

NAS in the News This Week

Ashley Thorne

NAS had a spike in publicity when we released our report on freshman summer reading, "Beach Books: What Do Colleges Want Students to Read Outside Class?". Check out our press clippings from this week.

Peter Wood Appears on Inside Academia TV

This week Peter was a guest in a video interview with Inside Academia in which he spoke about the convergence of campus politicization and the push to put more students through college.

Eating Together

John Rosenberg

Can students improve race relations on campus by eating at mixed-race tables?

Higher Education’s Role in America’s “Coming Apart”

Richard Vedder

Don't discount higher education as a source of some of America's problems.

Collegiate Journalists Ponder Summer Pursuits, Politics and Popular Culture

Glenn Ricketts

Student journalists offer suggestions for summer break, report on political developments and assess the state of popular culture.

“Common Readings” at Colleges Uncommonly Political, Scholars Find


PRESS RELEASE: The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has released Beach Books 2012-2013, its third annual study of common reading programs at American colleges and universities.

Common Core Standards Set by Our Elites

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood visited Birmingham, Alabama to discuss the Common Core with the Alabama chapter of the Eagle Forum.

Where DINOs Rule

Rachelle Peterson

Activists vastly overstate fossil fuel divestment pledges. 

Supreme Court Will Decide on Religious Student Groups vs. Nondiscrimination Policies

Ashley Thorne

See Inside Higher Ed:

Both sides in the case before the court argue that they are defending students from discrimination. "Often university officials don't like the religious groups and we see [colleges' anti-bias rules] as one more mechanism for keeping religious groups off campus," said Kim Colby, a lawyer for the Christian Legal Society, which wants the right to organize chapters at public law schools even if those law schools ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The society excludes gay people -- and others who do not share its faith.

See also FIRE:

FIRE will be filing an amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief with the Court in support of the Christian Legal Society's appeal, asking the Court to continue its longstanding protection of expressive association.


University administrators, moreover, seem to have a lot a trouble complying with the First Amendment.  Let us pray that the Supreme Court will vindicate the foundational principles underlying our first freedom.


But just as the right to abortion, speech, or private education doesn’t yield a right to government funding of abortion, speech, or private education — and isn’t even violated by rules that expressly exclude abortion, certain subject matters of speech, or private education from generally available benefit programs — so the right to expressive association isn’t violated by rules that give benefits only to groups that organize themselves in a certain way. And while these conditions on funding would be unconstitutional if they discriminated based on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech, a ban on discrimination in selecting members or officers is a ban based on conduct, not on the viewpoint of the groups’ speech.

Ed in the Air

Ashley Thorne

In the movie Up in the Air, George Clooney's character works for a company that sends him around the country to fire people. To save the company money on airfare, hotels, and rental cars, Clooney's female colleague, a young Cornell grad, suggests that they switch to firing people through videoconferencing on laptops. The method seems to work, but the viewer feels instinctively that this is even more demeaning than getting fired by a third party company. There's something so impersonal and distant about talking to a screen. Later in the movie, the girl (Cornell grad) gets dumped by her boyfriend via text message, and once again, we see the medium itself as adding to her humiliation. We've always had the sense that with any communication short of face-to-face conversation, there's something vital missing. That's been the abiding concern during the rise of online education. But an article in today's Inside Higher Ed declares that online education will lose none of the elements that make traditional education what it is:

As we look to the future of liberal education, we seem unlikely to change the fundamentals of what has made that model successful. We will enhance the curriculum with interactive smart classrooms, course and lecture capture, ubiquitous wireless connecting smaller and more capable digital devices, and other technologies not yet invented, but close faculty-student and student-student interaction will remain the core. What seems more likely to change – and to offer transformative possibilities – is the medium.

But isn't the medium the message? The author maintains, however, that "there is every reason to believe that whatever 'liberal education' is, 'it' can travel over a network." He offers some compelling reasons.

Debunking the Idea that Science Discriminates Against Women

George Leef

Christina Hoff Sommers has a sharp article on NRO, debunking the idea that science discriminates against women. 

Are College Presidents Paid Too Much? NAS's Herb London Weighs In

Ashley Thorne

Herb opines that some presidents may deserve the high salaries they receive, but often their income can hurt morale at a university if faculty members perceive it as unfairly extravagant. 

How the Dorms Are Politicized: The Case of the University of Delaware

Adam Kissel

This paper was presented by Adam Kissel at a panel at the National Association of Scholars general conference in Washington, DC, on January 11, 2009. Kissel is the director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Middle East and Africa Scholars Meet Next Month

Ashley Thorne

Seats are still available at the ASMEA conference in October.

Video: Peter Wood Talks About Online Ed on My9 News

NAS president takes on the pros and cons of online education.

NAS Delaware Affiliate President Jan Blits Receives Academic Freedom Award

Ashley Thorne

We congratulate Professor Blits on being honored for his courage in challenging political correctness at the University of Delaware.


Peter Wood

Peter Wood fears that a new proposal for improving science education will lead to even greater math illiteracy among high school graduates.

US Education Dept. Flunks Statisitics 101

Glenn Ricketts

Preparing a report for possible use in analyzing eligibility for student loans by race, the Department of Education forgot to include African American default data. Mr. Ricketts wonders why.

A Better Way to Educate Professionals

Douglas Campbell

Suggestions for how the faculty of the traditional liberal arts, the physical sciences and the management and business programs can collaborate to better educate professionals.

A Hundred Ideas for Reforming Higher Education

Peter Wood

The status quo is so deeply entrenched that only a fantasy map will get us out of the Great Gillikin Forest to the Emerald City, from the Inferno to the Paradiso.

Those Stubborn Classics

Ashley Thorne

Colleges think classic books are irrelevant, too difficult, and too privileged. They’re wrong. 

The Value of College Degrees Is No More Settled than Is Global Warming

George Leef

George Leef writes for the John William Pope Center on why recent job data does not prove that higher education is a "good investment."

Scholars Ask Supreme Court to Revisit Fisher and Rationales for Racial Preferences


The NAS joined a petition to the Supreme Court to re-hear Fisher v. University of Texas, the case that challenges racial preferences in public university admissions.

Good Citizens Are ‘Inclusive’ and Take Shorter Showers, Colleges Say

Ashley Thorne

Forget checks and balances, or popular sovereignty: citizenship education has morphed into environmental propaganda.

Peter Wood's Article in David Brooks' 2015 Sidney Awards


New York Times columnist David Brooks recommended NAS president Peter Wood's Weekly Standard article "The Meaning of Sex" in his 2015 Sidney Awards.

NAS Gives Thanks


NAS staff say what they're thankful for this year.

A Famous Victory


NAS Director of Communications David Randall criticizes the AP European History exam at The Claremont Review of Books.

A Trustee for Free Speech


Jamie Kirchick collects Yale alumni signatures in his campaign to join the Yale Board of Trustees.

Disagree With Us and We'll Call You Out for Supporting Slavery

Michael Krauss

Now that our leaders have taught us that opposing nationalized health care is supporting slavery, I think it's pretty clear that high school students should be taught that denying global warming is supporting slavery.  Come to think of it, opposing affirmative action and partial birth abortion is clearly supporting slavery. I might have difficulty persuading the Senate that rooting for the Yankees constitutes supporting slavery -- though that seems more pleasing to me than any of the other innuendos.

California Scholars Fighting for Prop. 209

Ashley Thorne

Proposition 209, the law prohibiting racial preferences at public universities in California, is under attack. Last week the California Association of Scholars (CAS), an affiliate of NAS, filed a motion to intervene in a lawsuit against Prop. 209 by an organization that, as NAS president Peter Wood said, "has deployed questionable tactics against civil rights initiatives in every state where they have been proposed." CAS, along with Ward Connerly and the American Civil Rights Foundation, will be represented by attorneys with the Pacific Legal Foundation. There is also a bill called AB2047, which would effectively overturn Prop. 209 and is now in the hands of the California Senate. CAS president John Ellis has sent a letter to the Senate chair, Gloria Romero, urging her and her colleagues to vote down this law. Links Press Release on CAS and BAMN lawsuit CAS Letter to State Senate Chronicle of Higher Ed Pacific Legal Foundation Press Release

Overselling Higher Education Gives Us Credential Inflation

George Leef

Today's Wall Street Journal published George Leef's letter:

Soon You Will Need a Master's Degree to Wash Dishes Eric Felten's excellent "Now College Is the Break" (Postmodern Times, Feb. 11) leaves an apparent paradox hanging in the air. If large numbers of college students are studying little and learning almost nothing of lasting benefit, how can it be that "the reward for the collegiate credential has been going up"? 

No Evidence of Sexual Harassment? Guilty, Says the Dean

Glenn Ricketts

Professor Arthur Gilbert, a long-time, highly regarded faculty member in the University of Denver's Joseph Korbel School of International Studies is still seeking vindication, following his outrageous treatment by senior DU administrators.

The Military and Academe

Allan Silver

Allan Silver, professor of sociology at Columbia University, presented the following remarks at the NAS conference during a panel on the military and academe, January 10, 2009.

Dem Bones, Dem Barebones Education...

Peter Wood

Online education gains respectability as the wave of the future.

2010 Spring Semester Highlights

Ashley Thorne

50 of our top articles this year.

Teaching Sustainability: Moral Imperatives and Psychotherapy

Peter Wood

A webinar on sustainability education counsels participants to use manipulative psychotherapeutic techniques to influence people to act sustainably.

Marriage and Family in Western Civilization

William H. Young

William H. Young examines the present dysfunctional state of the family in light of its traditional role in Western Civilization.

The Virtues of a Free Market in Postsecondary Education

George Leef

A bid for eliminating federal intervention and coercion of higher education.  

More Good News on the Value of Your College Degree

Glenn Ricketts

NAS board member Tom Lindsay describes the rewards of your degree in popular culture.

Not So Immortal: The Compromised Life of Common Reading Programs

Peter Wood

Peter Wood on what common reading assignments say about the intellectual life of colleges.

NAS Sustainability Report Continues to Garner Coverage


An update on what other people are saying about Sustainability: Higher Education's New Fundamentalism

AP History and Us

Peter Wood

An update on the College Board's re-revised standards for AP U.S. History. 

Ask a Scholar: What are the Effects of Carbon Dioxide on the Earth's Atmosphere?

Glenn Ricketts

Climatologist David Legates explains why the influence of atmospheric gasses does not necessarily reflect their proportion in the atmosphere.

Paying Students to Protest Trump

David Randall

"Civic Engagement" is Progressive Politics--and it's not even pretending anymore that it isn't.

Modern vs. Western Thought: The Return of Bacon's Idols

William H. Young

William Young examines the return of idols which Francis Bacon had sought to banish

Issue Brief: Fine Art


What does NAS think about the fine arts? Read our position.

National Teach-In Calls on Sustainability Partners to Help "Hide the Decline" in Global Warming Fait

Ashley Thorne

I got this email from the National Teach-In for Global Warming as part of an "Education for Sustainability" listserv to which I subscribe:

Dear Colleagues and Friends, The hacked e-mails from climate scientists have energized the denialist community: one of the most jaw-dropping comments came from “Superfreakonomics” co-author Steven Dubner who told Fox News that “scientists were “colluding” with Al Gore in “distorting evidence.” He insisted that “you can’t read these emails and feel that the IPCC’s or the major climate scientists’ findings and predictions about global warming are kosher.” Now you too can help “hide the decline”. No, not a (non-existent) decline in the global temperature data, but a decline in the voices of people who understand the science. As educators, many of us are stunned that a few private e-mails are somehow calling into question three decades of peer-reviewed research by thousands of the world’s top scientists. Nevertheless, because you and I are not speaking out, but the deniers are, it is happening, and we have the obligation to set the record straight. What can you do? 1. Help us organize statewide conference calls with your US Senate offices this spring. We need to get 500 people on the line each from Indiana, Tennessee, Ohio, Nevada and 46 other states—to have a real conversation with Senate staff about real issues. The Bard Center for Environmental Policy will do all the work setting up the calls, but we need your help getting the word out. To learn more, give me a call at 845-758-8067, or e-mail us at 2. Call your US Senate Office today (find the numbers here) and let them know that these e-mails have in no way undermined the scientific case of global warming, and that the planet is in fact heating up just as scientists have predicted.  A great Peter Sinclair video explaining the issue is here. 3. Send in letter on the e-mails to the editor, or write an op-ed for your regional paper. Next Wednesday, December 16th, I will be calling into on The National Climate Seminar live from Copenhagen.  While it is clear that “a grand deal” will not emerge in the next two weeks,  I will be discussing whether a binding international agreement appears possible to emerge by next year’s meetings in Mexico, and what that might look like. Join us at 3 PM eastern—call in info is here. Finally: please support young people’s efforts in Copenhagen— take the daily student opinion poll POPCOP15: see the letter from Dickinson College letter below.  And see the note as well about a cool Copenhagen curriculum, Citizen Climate,  for high school students from the Will Steger Foundation. Thanks for the work you are doing. Professor Eban Goodstein Director, National Teach-In on Global Warming

Dispatch from the Tenure Wars

David Clemens

Writing in the Wall Street Journal (June 18), Timothy Knowles, “a former teacher, principal and district leader” laments the difficulty of eliminating “low-performing teachers.”  Granted, there are abundant reasons for tenure reform at the K-12 level.  College, however, is a different matter. Marketing his new book, Cary Nelson, spear point of the AAUP, says

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool, devout believer that you only have academic freedom and free speech if you have job security.  If you don’t have job security, you can’t speak out forcefully, and I think that means academic freedom will be diminished.

I rarely agree with Dr. Nelson, a fellow I find usually animated by left-wing, social constructivist, and Sixties sentiments, but in this case he is right. Mr. Knowles paints administrators as ex-teachers called to a higher mission.  However, in college, many administrators have little or no classroom experience, and Mr. Knowles seems oblivious to just how political, punitive, and self-serving careerist administrators can be (just look at how many of the cases at FIRE originate from administrative excesses).  Without tenure, my campus would have no discernible conservative voice at all.  I would have been fired by at least three different college presidents for a variety of transgressions:  organizing the faculty union, suing the college, publically criticizing multiculturalism, openly opposing “student learning outcomes.” Students can survive a poor teacher (how many great teachers are there?), but they can’t survive a university monoculture that is an ideological echo chamber.  Tenure may sometimes protect incompetent knaves but, where it still exists, tenure also protects vital intellectual pluralism.

A Comment on My WSJ Letter

George Leef

A reader  sent me an email about my letter in the Wall Street Journal on the inflation of job qualifications.

You Don't Have to Write That Check!

George Leef

Duke University has recently received some large gifts, but in today's Pope Center Clarion Call, alum Al Oettinger explains why he has stopped giving the school money.

Speaking Freely

Ashley Thorne

Does the AAUP really oppose speech codes?

Daniel Bell (1919-2011) - An Appreciation

Russell K. Nieli

Russell Nieli offers an appreciation of Daniel Bell, the sociologist who taught us that the modernist elevation of self-expression as a cultural ideal would erode the personal discipline on which capitalism is based.

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

Student reporters get the Fall semester rolling with observations on the national debt crisis, same-sex marriage, the vocation of college journalists and how to spend your summer break.

Diversity Will Cure Our Ills!

George Leef

To professors who dont' embrace diversity fervently enough.

On the 25th Anniversary of the Publication of Closing of the American Mind

George Leef

Jay Schalin offers his thoughts on Allan Bloom's book.

Professors as Independent Contractors

George Leef

What today's academics could learn from Adam Smith.

Educational Malpractice Abounding

George Leef

George Leef on the real harms inflicted by mismatch in higher ed.

How Higher Ed Fails Students, Especially Leftist Ones

George Leef

At many institutions, professors shortchange students by affirming their existing beliefs, rather than challenging them on the path of "collision with error."

Education: That a Republic Is Only One Generation Old

George Seaver

An argument for why the part of education that is civic virtue, as seen throughout history, is essential to the survival of a republic.

Member Nominations for the NAS Board


Members may submit nominations for open seats on the board until August 24, 2015.

Issue Brief: Science


What does NAS think about trends in science education? Read our position.

Top Consideration: Not Education, But Money

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I write about an enlightening lawsuit involving a demoted dean's allegation that his school deliberately trashed its academic standards to help retain weak students. My argument is that colleges and universities have been doing this for decades, but have usually been subtle enough not to get caught (or sued, at least). The case also highlights the need to employ what economists call "Public Choice" theory -- i.e., the assumption that public officials will generally make decisions that are in their own interest rather than for "the public good"--when we think about the actions of college officials.


Glenn Ricketts

Steven Rhoads, NAS member and Political Science professor at the University of Virginia, writes [along with co-authors Laura Webber and Diana Van Fleet]at the Chronicle of Higher Education about the "hook-up" sexual culture now so widespread on many college campuses (and high schools as well, according to what one informed local counselor tells me). The subject has been examined here before, when we published Wendy Shalit's call for the recovery of some minimum standard of modesty in the dorms. Good luck with that, since I doubt that there is much on campus these days that hasn't been exposed, practiced, discussed or attempted. Most undergraduates, their sap rising, have long been accustomed to inhabiting the same buildings , the same floors, using the same common bathrooms and, more recently, the same dorm rooms. Beyond that, many undergraduate newspapers feature a regular "sex columnist," who usually doesn't devote a lot of space to modesty. Not much then, seems to stand in the way of the "hookup" culture, and, as Shalit discovered, the burden is on those uneasy with it to remove themselves by choice: there are few institutional props that even encourage, much less accomodate them. We're certainly not in Kansas anymore. Rhoads and his co-authors share Shalit's negative take on casual, random sexual encounters, but offer some intriguing empirical research results rather than simply subjective disapproval. On the basis of extensive survey questionaires, they find that young college women in particular, perhaps to their surprise, are increasingly unedified and troubled when they reflect on their "hookup" experiences. Not quite what they expected, it seems. It's worth reading, especially for the lively comments thread which follows.

Could the UNC System Do Without Diversity Offices?

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Duke Cheston looks at the numerous diversity offices throughout the UNC System. College campuses would still be highly diverse if we stopped trying to increase the percentages of students who have certain ancestries.

Thomas Lindsay On Why the Humanities Are Really in Trouble

Glenn Ricketts

Thomas Lindsay explains that the humanities long ago sold out to ideology and "critical thinking," and haven't been worth the money for some time. 

Ask a Scholar/Ask a Critic: Suicide or Drug Overdose?

Carol Iannone

Does Lily Bart commit suicide at the end of Edith Wharton's novel, The House of Mirth, or does she die of a drug overdose?

Paglia's Scimitar

Peter Wood

The feminist-lesbian-leftist calls higher education out as a "rote regurgitation of hackneyed approved terms."

Collegiate Press Roundup 6-17-10

Glenn Ricketts

In student news this week are opinions about student apathy, impediments to intellectual openness, the possible connection between federally subsidized corn and immigration problems, what to read during summer vacation, and thoughts on same-sex marriage.

Don't Miss: "A Conversation with Peter Wood" on February 23

Next Wednesday NAS president Peter Wood will speak in New York City about anger in America now, drawing on his book A Bee in the Mouth. Hosted by the Institute for American Values, the event is free and refreshments will be provided. RSVP today!

Aggressive Anti-Bullying Crusade Gathers Steam

Glenn Ricketts

You can easily imagine how  “anti-bullying” policies will likely to play out on college campuses already dominated by the enforcers of sensitivity.

Elegies, Part 1

Peter Wood

Reforming higher education is not just about nostalgia for the past.

Unbiasing American History

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne writes a review of Recasting History for First Things. 

Common Core State Standards: College and Career Readiness

William H. Young

William Young discusses the serious decline in literacy and quantitative skills among students currently entering college.

Sonia, What Happened?

George W. Dent

Sonia Sotomayor's impassioned dissent in Schuette v. BAMN seems to contradict views she expressed in her memoir, My Beloved Land.

Assigning Blame for the Degradation of Higher Ed

George Leef

Establishment voices blame critics and innovators for the degradation of higher ed.

Dreaming of a Black Christmas

Dion J. Pierre

UCLA Prof. Melina Abdullah recently called for a "Black Christmas" as a protest against capitalism. This idea is nothing new. 

Turkey's Disappearing Miracle

Chance Layton

Turkey's universities strengthed academic freedom over the last three decades, now it faces extinction. What went wrong?

It's Not a Magical Incantation

Ashley Thorne

Gary A. Olson of Idaho State University has a good article on "The Limits of Academic Freedom" at the Chronicle of Higher Ed. An excerpt:

One chair described a senior professor who missed a substantial number of her classes. When confronted with evidence of her absenteeism, she told her chair that as an academic she had the freedom to conduct her courses in any way she deemed appropriate. [...] The magical incantation—"I'm protected by academic freedom"—is thought to offer instant indemnity. [...] Some people confuse the constitutional concept of freedom of speech with the less grandiose notion of academic freedom, but they are two distinct concepts. Academic freedom is limited to the confines of academic discourse while free speech is a broad constitutional right central to our democratic system of government. [...] Academic freedom is a right we should all cherish because it ensures an environment of free inquiry. That is precisely why we must guard against attempts to make the concept so limitless, so capacious, that it loses its power to protect the academic enterprise. When academic freedom becomes all things to all people, then it becomes nothing at all.

Does the Faculty Lounge Rule?

Candace de Russy

The incomparable Victor Davis Hanson thinks so, evincing evidence that ethnic centers have the run of our institutions, and economics and political science departments determine policy. And so goes the nation, resembling for all the world "a faculty bull session over coffee."

Yes, It Is Time for Complacency on Racial Diversity

George Leef

The Chronicle has an article by Arthur Coleman and Scott Palmer (both lawyers who worked in the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights) entitled "No Time for Complacency on Racial Diversity." George Leef of the Pope Center sent off a letter in reply, arguing that we ought to be complacent about racial diversity, as well as diversity of all other kinds.

The Presidential Candidates' Higher Ed Policies

Ashley Thorne

At the Pope Center, Jenna Ashley Robinson has a helpful roundup of the Republican presidential candidates' stated higher education policies. 

Whats Mine Ain't Yours

Peter Wood

Is there still such thing as intellectual property rights?

Tray Chic

Ashley Thorne

Colleges experiment in trayless dining...and mind manipulation.

Is U.S. Edu-Rhetoric a Pipe Dream? A Teacher Wants to Know

Ashley Thorne

Teachers should be evaluated based on student performance - but on several conditions, says op-ed.

What Happened? Academic Freedom at a Christian College, Chico State's Diversity Action Plan, Counseling Student Opposed by ACLU

Ashley Thorne

We revisited some of our articles to find out what happened after we wrote them. Here’s what we learned.

Too Much For Too Little

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood offers observations on the diminishing value of a college degree.

SCOTUS Strikes Down Raced-Based Redistricting in Texas

Glenn Ricketts

Race based legislative boundaries are banned in Texas in a case that bears on university admissions policy.

Elegies, Part 2

Peter Wood

Regretting cultural loss is valuable when it shows us the way forward. 

"Residence Life" Resurrected

George Leef

George Leef on the divisiveness of a diversity-oriented housing program at UNC.

A Legacy Gifted


The National Association of Scholars honors Professor Samuel Bluefarb, a long-time and stalwart supporter of the NAS.


Glenn Ricketts

I wonder what’s going on with Google and Climategate?   Specifically, I mean why doesn’t the premier mega-search resource’s suggestion function work when you enter “Climategate?”   Enter “Global Warming,” for example and you’ll instantly get at least a dozon suggestions; same thing with “Climate Change.”    But with “Climategate – even though it records many more hits than the other two – nada, nyet, nichts, nihil, nothin’.   Is this a coincidence?  Maybe.  But maybe Google thinks it doesn’t need to be too helpful for those global warming deniers, either.  You have to wonder.

Diversity: The Expanded Version

Glenn Ricketts

You may have thought - or wished - that American colleges and universities had finally exhausted the outer reaches of "diversity" on their campuses. Really, there's simply GOT to be a finite limit to this thing, and we really will run out of special categories, special programs, special courses, special campus codes and relentless micromanagement by administrators, hiring committees and dormitory resident heads seeing that students and faculty members are sufficiently serious about "diversity." Well, if that's what you thought, brace yourself: according to this piece in today's Chronicle of Higher Education, a new, significantly expanded version of "diversity" is about to arrive on campus, with lots of new student classifications and obligations to accomodate them. And here's a surprise: this also means vastly greater possibilities for antidiscrimination litigation as well. Take students with various physical or learning disabilities, for example: they're accustomed to all kinds of accomodations, whether in the use of guide dogs or the constant availability of special education teachers during their K-12 years that aren't currently provided in most college programs. If all of they're accustomed to receiving these services at the secondary level, then why can't colleges and universities do likewise? There may be nothing wrong providing such accomodations, of course, but it's not immediately obvious how they're related to the idea of "diversity." This is in addition, of course, to the endlessly proliferating categories of ethnic racial and sexual categories which will have to be recognized and accomodated. If you've been troubled by the imperial march of "diversity" up to now, this is not going to make for very edifying reading. Simillar to The Blob, it expands endlessly. The comments thread, though, suggests that a number of readers have finally reached their limits and are willing to say so. Hopefully, they'll speak up at faculty meetings as well.

Oh, But There IS a Debate Over That!

George Leef

Inside Higher Ed ran a story  on an AEI conference where the subject was the “completion agenda.” That is, do we really need to get lots more young people into and through college as Obama says we should? After the presentation of a paper by Arthur Hauptman that was skeptical, Lumina Foundation’s Dewayne Matthews commented that “there’s no real debate here that more people need college degrees.” Sorry, but there IS a great debate over that.

Not for Crybabies

Ashley Thorne

Do universities study conservative political thought?

Dust Bowl Dust-Off

Ashley Thorne

Do errors and bias distort the findings in a key environmental history book? An expert investigates.

The Beck-Piven Controversy

Peter Wood

Peter Wood reviews the angry debate over Glenn Beck’s criticisms of Frances Fox Piven.

Video: Richard Shavelson on How to Rate the Quality of an Education

Andy Nash

Richard Shavelson joins Andy Nash for a conversation on measurements and metrics in figuring out the quality of an education.

U Florida Students Practice Civil Debate

Ashley Thorne

There's a set of electronic panels in Florida that is supposed to foster civility among students whose opinions differ.

The Trouble with Multiculturalism

Clifford D. May

A new book by Salim Mansur, born an Indian Muslim, argues that multiculturalism propagates the false notion that all cultures are equally good.

Social Justice and Fairness

William H. Young

William Young examines the notion of social justice and "fairness," as currently imparted by many American higher educational institutions.

Political Correctness Takes Over at Macalester

George Leef

Five decades after attending, an alumnus visits and is amazed to find his alma mater transformed by politicization.

Is there any real content to "leisure studies"?

George Leef

Leisure is not a dream that universities need to model; it's a choice that people make among all the uses of their time.

Radicalism’s Yield: Politics and the Illiberal Academy

Mark Zunac

In the Winter 2016 Academic Questions (vol. 29, no. 4), Mark Zunac discusses the evolution of liberal arts from a field encouraging inquiry to today's ideological sounding board.

IHS Scholarship for Grad Students Exploring Liberty - Deadline Dec. 31

Ashley Thorne

Our friends at the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) asked us to let our members and readers know about the scholarships (up to $12K!) they award to graduate students through their Humane Studies Fellowship. The deadline to apply is December 31. Here is the announcement from the IHS website:

Humane Studies Fellowships are awarded by the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) to students interested in exploring the principles, practices, and institutions necessary for a free society through their academic work. IHS began the program in 1983 as the Claude R. Lambe Fellowships and in 2009 awarded more than 165 fellowships ranging from $2,000 to $12,000. IHS considers applications from those who will be full-time graduate students, including law and journalism students, or undergraduate juniors or seniors during the 2010-11 academic year and who have a clearly demonstrated research interest in the intellectual and institutional foundations of a free society. Previous award winners have come from a range of fields such as economics, philosophy, law, political science, anthropology and literature. Their research focused on a variety of topics:
  • market-based approaches to environmental policy
  • the legal development of privacy and property rights in 18th-century England
  • the role of patient autonomy in bioethics
  • impediments to economic growth in developing countries
  • the relationship between U.S. presidential politics, fiscal policies, and economic performance
Select winners are invited to present and discuss their research at the annual Humane Studies Research Colloquium and to attend other colloquia throughout the year. Fellows also join a network of more than 10,000 IHS academics committed to the ideas of liberty and intellectual freedom.

"The Humane Studies Fellowship award is a precious gift of time that will enable me to continue with my research projects at a more rapid and effective pace. It makes a great difference."

- Susan Hamilton, Harvard University, HSF Winner

If you have any questions, please visit the frequently asked questions page and read about the application process. If you need assistance after reading the FAQs, please submit a question via our contact form.

Please pass the word on to any graduate students you know who may be interested in this.

Do Higher Education "Investments" Boost the Economy?

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Jay Schalin takes a look at the conventional wisdom that a sure-fire way for states or countries to boost their economies is by putting more resources into higher education. He concludes that the conventional wisdom is mostly wrong. Education, like everything else, is subject to diminishing returns and we're probably well past the point where additional benefits are less than additional costs.

Poll: Online Education

Ashley Thorne

We're curious... [polldaddy poll=2029659]

Wild BOARS in California

Glenn Ricketts

Our California affiliate raises objections to proposals which will guarantee admissions to 9 percent of each high school.

Horse-Hair Justice

Peter Wood

Thoughts on "21st-Century Skills" and where education should begin.

CAS Opposes Racial Preferences Bill

John Ellis

The California Association of Scholars urges CA Senate not to pass a bill that will overturn Proposition 209 and allow the use of racial preferences in university admissions.

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

Student press corps writers analyze stress among undergraduates, changing views of Valentine's Day and romance, the Constitution and slavery and a 2012 presidential prospect.

Law Schools Under Critical Scrutiny

Glenn Ricketts

Ideology has pervaded law schools to the detriment of student preparation for practice.  Are law degrees therefore still necessary?

What Were They Thinking?

Peter Wood

The platform committee of the Texas Republican Party backs away from its support of "critical thinking."

Why Are American Universities Shying Away from the Classics?

Ashley Thorne

U.S. colleges increasingly view anything published before 1990 as 'inaccessible' for students. So much for timeless themes.

Virginia Tech Must Eliminate Diversity Requirements

Ashley Thorne

Update on Virginia Tech's tenure guidelines. 

Societal Threats from Ideologically Driven Science

Edward J. Calabrese

Personal bias has gotten in the way of good science. 

The Misappropriation of Madison and Montpelier

William H. Young

William Young discusses the ideologically revised exhibits at James Madison's homestead.

Faculty Member to Administrator Ratio Shrinking at U California

Ashley Thorne

From the blog Remaking the University is an interesting article with charts showing the decline in the ratio between ladder rank faculty and senior management staff at the University of California. The decline is happening across all UC campuses. 

Saudis Still Fund Hateful Textbooks

Candace de Russy

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah just paid a visit to President Obama, almost  two years after the deadline by which the kingdom’s educational curriculum was to have been overhauled. This reform has not take place, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom wrote to the president last week. As the National Review reports, this meeting was aimed at getting the two nations to coordinate in confronting terrorism and should also have been used by the president to personally persuade King Abdullah to fulfill his promise of textbook reform. As NR notes,

Saudi textbooks teach, along with many other noxious lessons, that Jews and Christians are “enemies,” and they dogmatically instruct that various groups of “unbelievers” — apostates (which includes Muslim moderates who reject Saudi Wahhabi doctrine), polytheists (which includes Shiites), and Jews — should be killed. Under the Saudi Education Ministry’s method of rote learning, these teachings amount to indoctrination, starting in first grade and continuing through high school, where militant jihad on behalf of “truth” is taught as a sacred duty. These textbooks are used not only in Saudi Arabia but in Saudi-funded schools around the world.

It remains to be seen whether the president broached the matter to any avail with the Saudi king.

A Closer Look at the AAUP's New Statement on Controversial Professors

Ashley Thorne

Inside Higher Ed interviewed NAS president Peter Wood on his thoughts on the AAUP's statement, released today, on academic freedom for professors who take sides in controversies. While NAS agrees with the AAUP on some parts of the statement, and on the importance of protecting academic freedom, we disagree on some fundamental levels. Wood said that the AAUP appears to be "trying to create a firewall around faculty" so that "no one other than faculty has a legitimate place at the table," when the conduct of a faculty member is being discussed.

Enchanting Sustainability

Peter Wood

Shock and awe come to the university.

U Arizona Celebrates Chicano Walk-Out Day with a Teach-In

Ashley Thorne

La Raza studies, teaching students that white America is the enemy, lives on in American public education.

Common Core Standards Miss the Mark

Sandra Stotsky

Sandra Stotsky believes new standards for grades 6-12 English are too low and don't equip students to be "college- and career-ready.

Study Finds Racial Discrimination in Admissions at Two Universities

Ashley Thorne

A report conducted by NAS member Althea Nagai shows major bias against white applicants to Ohio State University and Miami University.

Cost Versus Enrollment Bubbles

Andrew Gillen

We should carefully consider why Americans

The Coming Assault on Beadledom

Glenn Ricketts

The Ivory Tower is submerged in academic administrators.

Anger and the Banality of Academe

Peter Wood

A contemporary poet's creations capture the spirit of the academy: angry, disdainful of America, mostly nonsensical.

The Bowdoin Project Arrives

Michael Toscano

NAS has launched a new webpage dedicated to our study of Bowdoin College. It will feature a series of contextualizing observations in the weeks leading up to our publication of the full report.

Oberlin College Battles Phony Hate Crimes

Glenn Ricketts

Oberlin College adds to the long tally of bogus hate crimes – with pride and gusto.

Tucked In: The Legacy of Goodnight Moon

Peter Wood

The 1945 bedtime story Goodnight Moon remains a classic invocation of peacefulness and home.

Diversity Clauses for UCLA

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne shows how UCLA's priority on diversity puts pressure on faculty members' academic freedom. 

Under the Ivy

Peter Wood

Ivy League universities picked up $41.59 billion in taxpayer-funded payments. How do these universities spend their share of the public purse? 

VIDEO: The Anti-American Bias of American Higher Education

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood discusses the anti-American bias in Higher Education. 

Why Non-Scientists Need To Study the Philosophy of Science

Edward R. Dougherty

NAS Member Edward R. Dougherty writes on what all students should know about scientific epistemology.

Bias Against Southern Scholarship?

Ashley Thorne

An article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (subscription required) highlights the Abbeville Institute, which is "an association of scholars in higher education devoted to a critical study of what is true and valuable in the Southern tradition." Here are some quotes from the article: Professor Donald W. Livingston (Institute's founder): "Academics who claim to find something valuable in the Southern tradition are sure to suffer abuse." "The university should be the place where the unthinkable can be thought and the unspeakable said as long as it is backed by civil conduct and argument.  It is not that today" Heidi Beirich (Southern Poverty Law Center): "At the end of the day, they are just trying to revise the history of the South in favor of whites." Clyde N. Wilson (Charter Abbeville member): ""The academic tendency now, because of America's preoccupation with the race question the last half-century or so, is to put the whole Southern history into a dark little corner of American history." Check out the Abbeville website and see what you think.

Boys, Girls and Geniuses

Glenn Ricketts

Our friend Christina Sommers has frequently piqued the wrath of academic feminists by arguing that public education, far from favoring boys as legend has it, is loaded heavily against them and in favor of girls all through the K-12 years. See, for example, her book The War Against Boys, which makes that case very convincingly. In this article in today's American, the AEI magazine, Sommers illustrates how the "war" continues in the New York City school system's program for gifted students. Despite the fact that, statistically, there are approximately equivalent numbers of academically talented boys and girls, the selection process, especially the heavily verbal rather than quantitative orientation of the qualifying exams, is decidedly skewed in favor of girls. Not surprisingly, nearly three-fifths of the students selected for the special programs are girls. Of course, there's nothing wrong with providing talented girls with every opportunity to realize their potential. But equally talented boys are currently getting the very short end of the stick. It's simply one more example, Sommers concludes, of the fact that boys of every variety have been relegated to second-class status by feminist-dominated school systems. To my mind, the greatest irony lies in the fact that, despite the increasing dominance of academic, leadership and social awards by girls, many of them also graduate from high school with a strong sense of grievance and victimhood. Thus, the typically upscale suburbanite valedictorian on her way to an Ivy League school next Fall, with lots of scholarship support in hand, will often as not give an address explaining how things are so heavily stacked against women, and she fully expects to encounter massive discrimination in the years ahead. Her college experience, alas, isn't likely to dispel that outlook.

Going to College Makes People More Likely to "Hide" Than to "Do"

David Clemens

In The Weekly Standard, Joseph Epstein makes a nice distinction between those who see man’s essential self as defined by what he hides and those who see man’s essential self as defined by what he does. "More people who have been infected by contemporary college education are likely to fall into the Hide camp than people who have been brought up free of higher education . . . .  If one believes that we are what we hide, responsibility drops away.”

Updike at Rest

Peter Wood

Will the great American author's legacy outlive him?

The Shape of (Academic) Things to Come

Peter Wood

It’s 2029. Do you know where your university is?

New Excellent Program: Master's Degree in Liberty Studies

Ashley Thorne

Check out our catalog of excellent programs as we add the master's degree in liberty studies at U Illinois-Springfield.

Hypotheticals in the Criminal Law Classroom: An Interview with Lawrence Connell

Ashley Thorne

Professor Lawrence Connell at Widener University has come under fire for referring hypothetically in class to killing the dean. Here he tells his side of the story.

Postmodern Philodoxers and Western Civilization

William H. Young

William Young examines the replacement of philosophy's pursuit of truth with philodoxy's denial of it.

Are Outside Donors Dangerous to Academe?

George Leef

Mr. Walter dismisses the claimed threat of outside influence on academic matters.

The Texas Model of Higher Education Reform

Thomas K. Lindsay

Texas is trying some innovative ideas for higher education, setting a good example for the rest of the country.

Teaching Collegians to Be World Citizens

Peter Wood

Being a citizen of the world seems to have magnetic appeal to college students, and American colleges and universities are tapping into this longing.

Obama's One Good Idea – Shorten Law School

George Leef

The third year of law school and, sometimes, law school itself are unnecessary, says George Leef.

Authors Wanted


Textbook authors seek collaborators who have expertise in genetics, psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

My Counsel to President-elect Trump on American Higher Education

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood offers the president-elect suggestions for the direction of higher education in the United States.

Why Read Great Books?

David Randall

David Randall discusses the problems with reading Great Books as part of an "education to democracy."

NAS Statement on the Michigan Campus Free Speech Act


PRESS RELEASE: NAS endorses the efforts of the Michigan Legislature to preserve free speech on college campuses. 

The Establishment Defends Irreproducibility

David Randall

NAS Director of Research David Randall argues that high reproducibility standards are practical.

"Diversity" Infection Spreading to Med Schools

George Leef

The mania over "diversity" (that is, preferences for certain people whose ancestry puts them into an "underrepresented" category) has swept through most of American higher education. It's bad enough when, say, English departments fret that they aren't adequately "modeling diversity," but far more worrisome when medical schools do. In this Pope Center article today, I write about this disturbing phenomenon.

Columbia's Surrender to the Left

Candace de Russy

University presidents Nicholas Butler and Dwight Eisenhower staunchly resisted it, but alas, as Mal Kline notes, to no avail.

Medical Ethics, Medical Schools, and the Wisconsin Protests

George Leef

Dr. Paul Hsieh writes here about medical ethics, medical schools, and dishonesty. 

Shaming the Winners

Ashley Thorne

Media hype after a 100-0 basketball game between two small private schools in Dallas exemplified a cultural tendency to vilify success.

An Interview with David Silverstein

Ashley Thorne

The Association for the Study of the Middle East and Africa brings integrity to the disciplines.

Domestic Faction in a Republic, Part I

George Seaver

Postmodern ideology, with its roots in higher education, is the source of poisonous faction in the United States today, writes George Seaver. But in the ancient Greek republics, factions were often beneficial.

De-Tribalizing Academe

Peter Wood

Peter Wood examines the controversial claim by Jonathan Haidt that social psychologists form a “tribal-moral community.”

Jefferson-Hemings Revisited

Peter Wood

Peter Wood reviews a new scholarly re-examination of the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings controversy.

Grade Inflation in Minnesota – Just Like Everywhere Else

Glenn Ricketts

Historian Chuck Chalberg analyzes the factors behind the surfeit of A's students get these days.

Bias in psychology confirmed

George Leef

Political bias in academic psychology is confirmed by an unlikely source.

Selecting a Reforming President for the University of Texas

Publius Audax

A faculty member at the University of Texas, Austin offers a reform plan for the university's Board of Regents.

Internship Open: Development Assistant


NAS is hiring an intern for the position of Development Assistant.

Higher Education's Deeper Sickness

John M. Ellis

John Ellis argues for measures that would increase intellectual diversity and reduce politicization in colleges. 

Is Service-Learning a Disservice to Philosophy?


NAS member Spencer Case writes on the use of service-learning in philosophy.

On Advocacy in the Classroom

Ashley Thorne

A blog on Inside Higher Ed that I pay attention to, Getting to Green, has an interesting discussion about advocacy intruding on higher education. Note that the Getting to Green blogger writes under a pseudonym and is "a sustainability administrator at a large private research university, an adjunct faculty member, and a farmer." Michael Legaspi at Creighton University commenting on Getting to Green:

Advocacy rears its head too often, in multicultural moralism, identity politics, and, as the CRU debacle shows, in too many kinds of environmental studies. When we are concerned only to convert students to the “right” view of things, rather than to lead them through complex engagement of the intellectual substance of important questions, we make it all too easy for them to get by in our classes by telling us what we want to hear. When they do so to our satisfaction, we may have scored a cheap political victory, but we have surely done so at the expense of our best and highest ideals.

Getting to Green responds:

Michael Legaspi is concerned that too much of American higher education consists of political advocacy. He's right to be, and I agree with him. In fact, I'd go further. I'd say that too much teaching consists of social and economic advocacy, as well. Too much of what goes on in social sciences and professional schools treats how things are as the best they could possibly be (in this, the best of all possible worlds). Advocacy may be an acceptable form of consciousness-raising, but it's far from the highest form of teaching. When I work with professors at Greenback, I really don't know how much sustainability-related advocacy they indulge in. My impression, and my sincere hope, is that it's not much. Advocacy is appropriate in the marketplace of ideas, but potentially troubling in the classroom. My objective is to get students to engage both with the material -- the facts -- and in some degree of substantive analysis. If a student seriously engages with the idea that natural resources (both sources and sinks) are finite, that the systems which interact to produce the planet's climate are many and complex, and that societies may have a responsibility to address problems of their own creation, then I'm satisfied. Not everyone has to agree with my conclusions about climate disruption, its causes, its likely costs for humanity if left unchecked, or the need to address it globally and immediately. What I comment on when I review student projects and papers is whether they demonstrate an understanding of the material, not whether that understanding matches my own.

I don't agree with G2G's entire post (especially the part about the mainstream media giving credence to Climategate - think Googlegate), but he's saying the right thing here. One of the main problems with the push to "infuse" sustainability into higher education is that it brings ideological advocacy into the classroom. If we are to have sustainability education in the university, the approach G2G is talking about sounds like the right one.

The Dismal Prospects for Scientific Employment

Alex B. Berezow

One of the most depressing articles I’ve ever read in my entire life describes the problem American students face when pondering a career in science. For years, the conventional wisdom was that our education system was failing to properly educate our children in STEM subjects (science, tech, engineering, and math). However, this article in Miller-McCune directly challenges this assumption. The authors contend that the real problem facing American students is a lack of careers in science. The case they make is compelling: Although the number of graduates receiving Ph.D.’s has increased, the number of job opportunities has not kept pace. This trend is particularly noticeable in academia, where young Ph.D.’s spend years as post-docs, with only a small chance of ever landing a permanent position as a professor. Indeed, the average age of a scientist who earns his first independent NIH grant– a huge milestone in the medical science field– has risen from a researcher’s late 20s/early 30s to the ripe old age of 42. One of the biggest causes indicated in this article is the flood of foreigners who are willing to take post-doc positions. It doesn’t take an economist to realize that a massive increase in labor supply will both eat up opportunities and drive down salaries. Post-doc positions, which were once viewed as prestigious, are now treated as temporary, cheap labor. With such a dismal prospect for career advancement and compensation, it’s no wonder that American students would rather get an MBA or MD… or to forgo higher education altogether.

Disincentives to Academic Rigor Converge

Ashley Thorne

NAS member William Pannapacker (writing under the pen name Thomas H. Benton) has another insightful article in the CHE, asserting that a number of powerful forces have come together discourage academic rigor.

Electracy What a Tangled Web We Weave

Peter Wood

If electronic proficiency replaces literacy, can we be truly whole?

Inadequate and Superfluous

Ashley Thorne

A Princeton professor feels too white to talk about diversity.

Collegiate Press Roundup 6-23-2010

Glenn Ricketts

Student columnists take a look at the Obama administration’s education policies, the threat to free speech posed by self-censorship, and the futility of banning smoking everywhere on campus.

Jason Fertig Appears on Inside Academia TV

In an interview with Inside Academia this week, Jason Fertig speaks about credential inflation and the need for higher education reform.

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

Student reporters and editorialists weigh in on unfair media jibes, complex relationships, disquieting historical parallels and suggestions for commencement speakers.

Capitalism and Western Civilization: Critical Thinking

William H. Young

William Young describes the kind of critical thinking skills needed in modern business enterprises.

The "Unfair" Campaign is Invited to UW-Superior

George Leef

UW-Superior endorses a tendentious concept of fairness.

Sustainability Triumphalism

Marilee Turscak

As new reports express skepticism about anthropogenic global warming, sustainability activists proclaim their cause more boldly than ever.

Obama's NLRB Pushes Faculty Unionization

George Leef

An economics professor explains why he regards faculty unionization as bad law.

Pope Francis Discusses Sustainable Development

Rachelle Peterson

Scientists and theologians weigh in on a summit at the Vatican. 

Rachelle Peterson in Today's NYT Room for Debate


Rachelle Peterson discussed the college divestment movement in the New York Times Room for Debate.

In WSJ, A Case for Accreditors to Keep Out of Racial Preferences

Gail Heriot

NAS board member Gail Heriot asks Congress to keep educational accreditors from forcing racial preferences on colleges and universities.

A Fine and Private Hate

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood writes on BDS supporter Professor Jasbir Puar's attempt to use the principle of academic freedom to keep herself from being held accountable to public judgment for her Jew-hating libels.

Anti-Trump Education


David Randall describes anti-Trump professors and the vanishing ideal of apolitical teaching.

Does Trump Threaten Science?

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood critiques a polemic by the American Association of University Professors.

Businesses Move From Greenwashing to Sincerity, Business Schools Adapt

Ashley Thorne

The Financial Times has an article on how corporations, which formerly touted their commitment to the environment as a marketing ploy, now really believe in the eco-cause. More and more business schools have "infused" sustainability into the curriculum due to student and corporate demand:

A cynic might question how deeply companies believe in the value of social responsibility but Tom Lyon, director of the Erb Institute at University of Michigan who holds an endowed chair at the school from Dow Chemical, insists that companies that approach him are “sincere”. “I am sure there’s some degree of reputation and image building, but there is also a sincere effort to be connected with a university. These companies want to be up to speed on the latest thinking, to know what students are thinking and to understand how to get the next generation’s best and brightest to come work for them.”

A sustainability director at Yale said, “We know you can get filthy rich destroying the planet, but now we’re starting to think about how you can make lots of money saving the planet.”

The Disempowerment of Ethnic Studies?

Glenn Ricketts

Anyone who's followed Ashley Thorne's posts describing the recently discontinued La Raza/Chicano "studies" program in the Tucson public school sytem may well have experienced a sense of the surreal: how on earth did this balkanized, ideological bomb-throwing find its way into any classroom anywhere? Could anyone actually have been serious about a "curriculum" that could only engender ethnic chauvanism and antagonism toward non-hispanics, especially whites? Unfortunately, yes, since the Tucson program is simply an extension/imitation of what's been going on in academic precincts for quite some time now. Here you can easily find any number of undergraduate courses and "studies" programs devoted to fostering group identity, group chauvnism, group grievance, group entitlement, etc., etc. But as these two pieces (here and here) in the Chronicle of Higher Education illustrate, ethnic studies has apparently been catching some flak, even from within the academy, and the authors respectively write to mount a defense. Of course, they believe, lots of criticism predictably emanates from the incorrigible racism which perdures at all levels of American society, and which was recently made manifest in Arizona's new statute which effectively terminated the Tucson curriculum. But one of the authors interestingly argues that ethnic studies programs at the college level have been weakened by academic "liberals," who have used them as a means of celebrating "diversity' rather than generating political activism and group advocacy (as in "empowerment"). That, he concludes, is where ethnic studies needs to refocus, as the La Raza program was apparently doing so well. As the comments thread indicates, a number of academic observers with first-hand experience of similar programs also think that's exactly what's wrong with them.

Bloggers Pick Up Connell Interview

Ashley Thorne

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit picked up Ashley Thorne's interview with Professor Lawrence Connell from Volokh, and Paul L. Caron at TaxProf Blog also weighed in.

Vote on Administrator's Political Showcasing

Ashley Thorne

Should a campus dean use his university platform to advertise his politics? Vote now!

Vapor Trail: The UN's Plan for Higher Education

Peter Wood

The United Nations asks presidents of all colleges and universities in the world to sign its "Academic Impact" initiative.

Ashley Thorne on FOX News

Ashley Thorne

Today NAS director of communications spoke about the "Beach Books" study on freshman summer reading.

"Targeted Discrimination": What to Look for When Investigating Ideological Bias in Academic Hiring

Steve Balch

How do we know whether conservatives face discrimination in academe?

More on William Byrd

Glenn Ricketts

A response to reader inquiries about the sixteenth-century English master.

One Way to Promote Intellectual Diversity

George Leef

Break the monopoly on publications that count towards tenure.

California Higher-Ed: Regents Deny Critics a Fair Hearing

Peter Berkowitz

The UC Board of Regents seems determined to disregard substantial evidence of the politicization of college education on its watch, in part by denying to its critics, the California Association of Scholars.

Readers Weigh In on Teaching the Classics


Readers respond to Ashley Thorne's analysis of common reading at American colleges and universities.

New NAS Membership Cards


Lifetime members of the National Association of Scholars will receive official NAS wallet cards.

APUSH Resources: Documents, Commentaries, and Critiques

Glenn Ricketts

A compendium of relevant documents and critiques of the new AP US History standards

The New History Guidelines are Better

KC Johnson

KC Johnson gives four reasons the revised APUSH standards are an improvement. 

The Boston Globe Hosts A Debate on Whether to Leave the Common Core

David Randall

NAS board member Sandra Stotsky makes the case that Massachusetts should leave the Common Core.

On Woodrow Wilson: Princeton Students Hold Civil Debate

Russell K. Nieli

A recent campus event was an encouraging sign that respectful dialogue is still possible among Princeton students who disagree. 

NAS President Peter Wood's Letter to Claremont McKenna College President Chodosh

Peter Wood

After students at Claremont protested the speech of Heather Mac Donald two weeks ago, what do free speech and academic freedom mean at Claremont Mckenna?

Victoria Coates Is Keynote Speaker at February NAS Conference


Victoria C. G. Coates, author of David's Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art, will give the dinner keynote address at NAS's conference in Phoenix, "What Is Western Civilization?"

2018 Member Meeting and Board Nominations


The National Association of Scholars will hold its annual membership meeting on Saturday, October 13, 2018. 

Pas Possible: Discrimination - Against Girls?

Candace de Russy

Kudos to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for raising an issue that the higher education establishment would rather keep buried. The commission's latest inquiry involves suspected gender discrimination on campuses, where women are approaching 60 percent of the applicant pool. As this report indicates, women are “more plentiful” in college admissions, no matter that feminist activists have been carping for years about supposed discrimination against females. The question arises whether, bowing to "reverse" gender bias, campuses  are now limiting the number of women they admit so as to increase the ranks of less meritorious men. Jennifer Rubin at Commentary remarks aptly on this ironic turn of events:

First, where are the Justice Department and so-called feminist groups? They apparently don’t much care if women are now on the short end of gender preferences. It’s all about “diversity,” you see. And second, one realizes how misplaced has been the hue and cry about anti-female discrimination in education. Apparently there is no civil-rights or other organization upset that men now make up only 40 percent of the college-admissions pool. Are they being discriminated against? Are their educational needs being ignored? We don’t know, and no one seems interested in finding out why.

Unrequired Reading

David Clemens

Education needs a manifesto for a new humanism; sadly, Martha Nussbaum’s new book is not that manifesto.  I had high hopes for Not for Profit but Dr. Nussbaum’s argument quickly becomes a tangle of faulty logic and ideology and notably stale seventies feminism.  Why is she still pumping the wells of female victimization (while referencing the female president of Harvard) and the plight of African American children who lack role models (while noting the African American President of the United States)?  At one point, she praises Mr. Obama’s personal values as developed by the progressive education she endorses.  Then she indicts him for not supporting such education for others, raising the question of just what sort of person her recommended liberal education actually produces.  When  Nussbaum pleads for progressive schools (wherein teachers sagely guide students to discover and construct knowledge themselves), I think of Geoffrey Pyke [pictured] and his Malting House School (John Dewey meets William Golding). Although Dr. Nussbaum embraces Socratic self-examination, ideology blinds her to her own biases.  She is pedantic when attacking pedantry, and she abhors “the dead hand of authority” yet repeatedly invokes the authority of Nobel Prize credentials.  She advocates critical thinking to combat “demeaning stereotypes,” then proceeds to stereotype men, women, whites, and Southerners.  Masculinity comes off badly unless it is “maternal” which, she implies, is the true essence of human nature (making masculine behavior an aberration, less than human).  In this book, women are saintly and victimized (unless they are named Margaret Thatcher).  Nussbaum scorns the image of the self-reliant cowboy, then, on the next page, explains that every child must develop “less need to call on others.”  Decrying education that involves mere inculcation of facts (more Seventies flotsam), she later admits to the necessity for “a lot of factual knowledge.” Worse, Dr. Nussbaum extols the individual but avoids any mention of the tribalizing effects of multiculturalism and its diminution of . . . the individual.  Among several straw man arguments, she condemns “the facile equation of Islam with terrorism” without mentioning just who ever assumed that equivalence.  The values she prizes are particularly Western, giving her desire to spread them globally a whiff of cultural imperialism.  And Dr. Nussbaum recommends role-playing to develop sympathy for "the other."  I met an eyewitness from one progressive school in Northern California that did just that:  to develop sympathy for slaves on a ship, teachers locked students in a Quonset hut, chained to their desks surrounded by rotting fish. In fact, Dr. Nussbaum’s book is a call not for a new humanism but for an old political correctness.  She even warns that because artworks are so effective at creating empathy, teachers must exercise “careful selectivity” so that students do not read “defective forms of `literature’” which evoke unsocial feelings and “uneven sympathies.”  Yikes!  Goodbye Salinger, Twain, Poe, O’Conner, Dostoyevsky, and Kafka.  With friends like Dr. Nussbaum, liberal arts education doesn’t need enemies.

Cutting Oversized State University Budgets Down to Size

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Jay Schalin writes about the need to pare down North Carolina's spending on higher education in the face of a large budget deficit.

Social Work’s Sins Against Conscience

Steve Balch

University social work programs rarely attract outside attention. They subsist deep down in the bowels of their host institutions, generating a decent cash flow but little in the way of intellectual excitement. They do, however, have one dubious distinction. Like no other academic program, they are politicized throughout their warp and woof. Sociology, anthropology, even education could, if fully liberated from tendentiousness, still survive as fields. It’s questionable whether this is true of social work. Launched in the spirit of progressivism, its doxology has by now absorbed almost every mental reflex of the left.

Deferred Maintenance

Peter Wood

A call for financial accountability in higher education

On the Passing of Irving Kristol: A Memory and Tribute

Steve Balch

NAS chairman Steve Balch pays tribute to Irving Kristol, 1920-2009.

Domestic Faction in a Republic, Part II

George Seaver

Renaissance and Enlightenment authors, as well as the U.S. founding fathers, saw the need to control factions in order to preserve the life of the republic.

Mission: Preparation

Peter Cohee

Activism-as-learning begins before college, through the influence on schools of groups such as Facing History and the Children's Environmental Literacy Foundation. What are we preparing students for?

Beach Books: 2011-2012

Ashley Thorne

A report on the books assigned in 2011–2012 as "common reading."

A Survival Guide for the Right in Leftist Academia

Robert Maranto

The ivory tower needs conservatives, and with the right attitude and a lot of hard work, conservatives can succeed in academia, write Robert Maranto and Matthew Woessner.

The Bowdoin Project Continues

Michael Toscano

NAS has published its second entry, a collection of 41 charts, tables, and basic facts about Bowdoin College, in its series of contextualizing observations for the Bowdoin Project.

Common Core State Standards: Cogs for the Economic Machine

William H. Young

William Young examines the ongoing debate over CCSS, and addresses the arguments of some prominent critics.

Statement on Campus Accountability and Safety Act


The NAS has concerns about the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, which could potentially encourage college communities to implicate innocent parties.

Are College Degrees the New Taxi Medallions?

Rachelle Peterson

Much like taxi car medallions, college degrees are viewed as pricey but essential investments.

A Conservative's Defense of Tenure

David Randall

David Clemens writes as a conservative in defense of tenure.

College Officials, Take Note: We’re Watching You

Roger Clegg

Roger Clegg discusses public disapproval of affirmative action, Fisher II, and responsible legal options for universities. 

News Flash: Google Allows Full Search Function for Climategate

Glenn Ricketts

I'm happy to report that Google is now allowing its suggestion function to accomodate searches for Climategate. Recall that I posted last week in reference to the very strange absence of this search tool, on a subject which was generating more hits than all other "climate" inquiries combined. Give it a try, you'll find all kinds of interesting stuff. I'd suggest that you hurry, though: you never know when this curious malfunction might recur. Glenn Ricketts

You'll Never Be a Success Without a College Degree

George Leef

That's what most people say, but the truth of the matter is that quite a few highly successful individuals never earned college degrees. Some of them have created great companies that ironically demand college degrees for jobs far less demanding than that of their non-college CEOs. In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Jenna Ashley Robinson writes about people who are very successful but who don't have any college credentials. Maybe a future piece should be about people who have college degrees but can hardly even keep a low-skill job.

The Provocative Ideas of "Publius Audax"


Pajamas Media have published a series of posts on higher education in Texas, authored by “Publius Audax”, a pseudonym for a professor at an undisclosed state university. Readers of this blog might be interested in what Publius has to say. In “Needed Reforms for Public Higher Education in Texas (and Elsewhere)”, Publius advocates what he calls the “Entrepreneurial Professor” model.

1. Infestation: Widespread or Not?

The recent nationwide media exposure of the diversity facilitation training program of residence assistants at the University of Delaware demonstrates what a couple of professors -- in this case, professors Linda Gottfredson and Jan Blits, two NAS members who teach there -- and a relatively small group of activists can accomplish in revealing the extent to which political correctness and toxic racial ideology have infested some of today's campuses.

Art for Gold

Peter Wood

Cash flow collides with the higher things at Brandeis.

Single Payer Lending

Peter Wood

The U.S. Houses passes "direct lending" bill as part of President Obama's plan for higher ed. What does it mean?

Domestic Faction in a Republic, Part III

George Seaver

In the United States today - education, media, law, family policy, and national security - deconstruction clashes with classical liberalism.

Sustainability News

Ashley Thorne

This edition of sustainability news includes articles on campus culture, curriculum, sustainability pledges, and funding, and it concludes with several critical perspectives.

Video: Ben Novak on Trusteeship and Shared Governance

Andy Nash

Former PSU trustee Dr. Ben Novak joins Andy Nash for an insightful look at the historical and current role of trustees in higher education.

Supreme Court’s Health Care Decision, Campus Issues, Engage Student Press Corps

Glenn Ricketts

Student press corps regulars provide coverage and analysis of summer issues.

Social Justice and Capitalism

William H. Young

William Young contrasts the fundamental principles of capitalism with the tenets of academic social justice.

Utopian Solution to Higher Ed's Problems: Make It Free

George Leef

Robert Samuels argues in a new book that public higher ed can and should be free; George Leef disagrees.

Minding the Campus's John Leo Profiled

George Leef

The Week magazine has posted a profile of Minding the Campus's John Leo.

Don't Underestimate the Eco-Worriers

Rachelle Peterson

Climate activists have become experts at selling their secular salvation myth to millions of young people.

Peter Wood appears on NPR's To the Point


Dr. Wood discusses the revised APUSH standards with a panel on To the Point, hosted by Warren Olney.

NAS Urges Office of Management and Budget to Reject New Racial Categories

Peter Wood

The U.S. Census should not be a tool for advancing the interests of any political party and should be above the fray.

Scholars File Amicus Brief in Students for Fair Admissions v Harvard College


Race-based admissions policies should be made available to the public.

Penn State Seeks "A Rapid Shift in Mindset" Toward Sustainability

Ashley Thorne

Should sustainability be a "defining feature" of higher education? I examine the sustaina-zeal at Penn State U in a recent article. It sounds as if sustainabullies are ready to invade every aspect of the university. Some takeaways:

  • Sustainability at PSU goes hand-in-hand with "global citizenship," which is antithetical to national citizenship and national patriotism.

  • PSU's Institute for Teaching Excellence sponsored a national Educating for Sustainability conference in order to "Promote sustainability in all sectors of higher education, but particularly the scholarly/academic arena."

  • The director of sustainability defines sustainability as "A pursuit that weaves economic, environmental, and social impact metrics in the assessment of decisions" and "A value system to weave into the fabric of our university."

  • A presentation at the conference urges that sustainability be factored in to promotion, tenure, accreditation, and “professional identity as an academic.” Sound familiar?

  • Much of one presenter's slideshow matched exactly a presentation given by Kathleen Kerr, the architect of the disgraced University of Delaware residence life program, known for coercion, intrusiveness, and attempts to indoctrinate freshmen living in the dorms.

  • Quote from presentation: “Be more methodical and systematic in all your efforts to create a shift of the norms here in curricula, policies and culture, and nationally (e.g. institutionalize it into annual reviews). [...] “A rapid shift in mindset is needed and education to action is the key.”

  • Quote from presentation: “Sustainability is everyone’s job. Doing nothing is not benign – it is a destructive decision for society.”

  • Michael Mann, implicated in the "hide the decline" emails, is a professor at Penn State U. After "Climategate" the university announced an investigation into his work. But will Penn State, so nurtured in sustainability, give him a fair investigation?

Jennifer Gratz on the Real Question About Race

Ashley Thorne

Jennifer Gratz, plaintiff in Gratz v. Bollinger in 2003, testified in court last week against AB 2047, a new bill that if passed, will overturn Proposition 209 and allow racial preferences in California university admissions. When asked, "If you had to bet your $5 on which kid was going to be more kid white, one kid of color, which kid do you think you should bet on?" she replied, "I wouldn't bet on either kid based on their race, I would look at the kid as a whole." Her interviewer pressed, "I regrettably come to the conclusion that race does still matter in terms of the ability of young people to succeed," to which Gratz answered, "I think the question should be: how do we get to the point, then, where it does not matter? And the government sticking its nose in the issue of race and determining based on someone's race who gets into a university, and picking and choosing winners and losers based on skin color, does not get us there." Watch the exchange in the 5-minute video below (via ACRI):


Needless Educational Credential -- The JD

George Leef

In this Washington Examiner piece, lawyer Hans Bader, a Harvard Law School grad, argues that law school is unnecessary and that people who wish to go into legal practice should be allowed to study for the bar exam as they wish. Law school is a high barrier to entry that does not ensure competence.

The Study Abroad Scandal, Round Two Harvard, Yale, Columbia among 25 Universities Investigated

The fleet of college and university programs that ferry students across the ocean to study abroad has hit stormy weather, at least in the Northeast. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has unleashed a second wave of subpoenas aimed at colleges he suspects of exploiting their students.

Champlain Ethics

Peter Wood

How the University of Vermont waters down character education

What's Cooking

Peter Wood

Yale, Virgina Tech, East Georgia, Eastern Michigan, Latin American Historians, 21st Century Cluelessness, and've got it all.

Sustainability News 6-28-2010

Ashley Thorne

This week’s news includes students sending hair clippings to help plug the oil spill; the reinventing of Biosphere 2; a new generation of sustainability graduates; how apocalyptic predictions can be encouraging; and one university's decision to go trayless.

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

Student news hawks analyze developments in the Middle East, misinformation about the global climate, the role of handguns in deterring crime and the nuisance of academic institutional assessment.

The Mirage of Accountability at the University of Texas

Robert Koons

"The fundamental problem in American higher education is not that we award too few B.A.s: it is that too few of these degrees correspond to any objective and verifiable standard of competency."

The Reader's Progress

Ashley Thorne

It's never too early to introduce students to classic reads.

Presidential Searches


PRESS RELEASE: Commitment to "Intellectual Diversity" top choice for new college presidents, says NAS.

Acknowledging Things of Darkness: Postcolonial Criticism of The Tempest

In the Fall 2014 issue of Academic Questions, Duke Pesta, associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, writes on the limitations of postcolional criticism.

Eco-Marxism: Deception 2.0

Peter Wood

Sustainability provides colleges an all-encompassing worldview. 

Now Hiring: Communications and Development Associate


NAS is hiring a Communications and Development Associate.

Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism Released by Polaris Books


PRESS RELEASE: Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism, co-written by Rachelle Peterson and NAS president Peter Wood, is now available at and bookstores nationwide.

China Plants Flag at U.S. Universities


PRESS RELEASE: NAS finds  that American colleges and universities have jeopardized their independence and academic freedom by succumbing to tools of China's soft power.

Reading The Age of Jackson in the Age of Trump


NAS Staff members read and comment on Arthur Schlesinger's The Age of Jackson.

Are We Stuck with the Politically Correct University?

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, I review the new AEI book The Politically Correct University. I recommend the book highly. It provides an excellent analysis of the problem of ideological imbalance and politicization that besets our higher education system and the closing chapters explore the prospects for change.

Do Student Evaluations Help Improve Education?

George Leef

In today's Pope Center piece, Professor Robert Weissberg argues that they're more likely to do the opposite. They tend to promote mediocrity and encourage at least some profs to pander to the students in order to get nice evaluations. In a course where most of the students are actually there because they want to learn, a professor could certainly benefit from their feedback. On the other hand, where the typical student is disengaged, ill-prepared, and enrolled in college principally to have fun, evaluations are a waste of time at best.

Tolerance, Diversity, Respect OR ELSE "Bias Reporting Teams" at William & Mary

It seems that you had better be very very careful of what you say and to whom you say it at the College of William and Mary, where the administration has recently instituted a new "Bias Reporting Team," complete with its own web page. Among the features of this newest academic venture in promoting "tolerance," "diversity," and "respect" on campus is an Orwellian system of anonymous accusation and secret investigations, the maintenance of elaborate data bases, and an extensive administrative mechanism, in which the college president will be directly involved. Although "Bias" is very briefly and vaguely defined, there is an exhaustive elaboration of the ways in which it can be reported to the "Bias Team." Anyone uncertain as to whether an incident constitutes "bias" is strongly encouraged to inform the "team," which will then determine if it's the real thing. The "bias" web page doesn't seem to provide for instances of fraudulent, frivolous, or malicious allegations, and the rights of anyone accused aren't elaborated either. Although a small disclaimer declares, "William and Mary values freedom of expression and the open exchange of ideas," we aren't at all reassured.

No Maintenance At All: Just Education

Ashley Thorne

The Salem campus of SNHU remembers why we go to college in the first place.

Spring and Summer Highlights

Ashley Thorne

We present a round-up of the some of the best articles from the last few months, in case you missed one or would like to revisit your favorites.

Evaluate This

Peter Cohee

A seasoned public school teacher concludes: teacher evaluations as they are don't make teachers better, don't get rid of bad teachers, aren't needed by good teachers, and don't improve schools or student learning.

Your Comfort is Our Priority

Ashley Thorne

Do students have the right to be comfortable?

Business (Ethics) as Usual

Jason Fertig

Textbooks tend to take a superficial and often anti-market approach.

The History of Bowdoin College from 1794 to 1871

Michael Toscano

NAS has published its third entry, "Bowdoin's History from 1794 to 1871," in its series of contextualizing observations for the Bowdoin Project.

What Do Professors Think of MOOCs?

Rachelle Peterson

According to Inside Higher Ed's recent survey, many professors believe Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) are inferior to other forms of online teaching and the real-life classroom. 

Forget Google, Memorize Poems

Peter Wood

Peter Wood writes on the joys and on the transformational power of poetry memorization.

Why the Education Department's "gainful employment" rule is futile

George Leef

George Leef argues that the "gainful employment" rule will reduce students' options for employment without helping them avoid debt.

Scared Green: Sustainability Lies We Tell Our Children

Peter Wood

Environmental messaging targeting children sets the stage for the ubiquity of "sustainability" ideology in colleges and universities. 

Room for Debate: NAS and

Peter Wood

Peter Wood comments on's response to Rachelle Peterson's recent piece about the college divestment movement.

Dear Future Arts Professor

Daniel Asia

Daniel Asia gives advice to future arts and humanities scholars.

Should Conservatives Lead Secret Lives?

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood's review of Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University.

Academia on the Verge of a New Dark Age

Leo Goldstein

Guest author Leo Goldstein offers a criticism of "climate alarmism" and "postmodern science."

Spinning Wheels


Robert Maranto writes about how education reformers can work effectively.

On Rubrics and Broken Windows

Bruce Brasington

Bruce Brasington discusses the effects of the AP European History examination.

NAS State Affiliates Support the PROSPER Act

Rachelle Peterson

NAS state affiliates write in on the PROSPER Act.

Education is Always Political?

Ashley Thorne

Inside Higher Ed's Getting to Green blogger says, "The truth of the matter is that education is always a political act." Do you agree? [polldaddy poll=2395418]

Re: Do Student Evaluations Help Improve Education?

Ashley Thorne

George, thanks for sharing the Pope Center piece on student evaluations. I thought this paragraph was especially poignant:

Today’s student-survey approach may tell us how students viewed the course, but the data tell us nothing about actual learning. It is not that questionnaire designers disdain knowledge; they just cannot measure it, and thus they exclude a key element of teaching. Ironically, universities can now hire or retain teachers who impart nothing of value but have superb ratings.

Incidentally, NAS published an article by Peter Cohee on student evaluations last week. Cohee concluded:

A decade spent writing evaluations of public school teachers has brought me to this disillusion: evaluations as they are don't make teachers better, don't get rid of bad teachers, aren't needed by good teachers, and don't improve schools or student learning. They tend to induce cynicism and to engender ill will between the teacher and the evaluator. They are an almost complete waste of the enormous time, energy, and money spent on them.

He argued that several factors render evaluations useless:

  1. Pre-written forms are created by those who don't teach and allow for mediocre teaching ("I’ve also seen altogether mediocre teaching that meets every formal requirement.")
  2. No meaningful consequences or rewards follow evaluation
  3. Evaluation is not tied to what and how well students have learned

Cohee offers some concrete suggestions for making evaluation meaningful and effective.

Ideology in the Industrial Relations Academy

Mitchell Langbert

The Labor and Employment Relations Association, previously called the Industrial Relations Research Association, is a learned society devoted to industrial and labor relations. Traditionally, LERA has supported the National Labor Relations Act but it had not been overtly partisan. In fact, its most prominent member, John T. Dunlop, had served as Secretary of Labor under President Gerald Ford. When I finished my doctoral studies in 1991 I found the organization to be pro labor rather than neutral in orientation, and I had not participated in it since the January 2000 meeting. Since it is one of the only games in town, I decided to give it another chance in 2011. What I found is shocking. LERA is not merely ideologically biased, but overtly partisan and Democratic. Virtually every session I attended included an attack on the GOP. I submitted a blog to LERA's new website, called the Employment Policy Research Network (EPRN), questioning the group's partisan atmosphere. The LERA leadership, which oversees the website, not only refused to publish it but refused to respond to me in writing. I had to call the LERA office to obtain a verbal response. I posted the blog on my Website.

Brandishing an Apology

Ashley Thorne

Faculty call for transparency in art controversy.

What Good Are People?

Ashley Thorne

Two ominous new developments for the sustainability movement: the MAHB and a sustainability literacy handbook.

Collegiate Press Roundup 6-30-2010

Glenn Ricketts

College students write about the Texas governor’s contest, the high cost of Dartmouth’s Sophomore Summer program, the awkward aspects of returning to your parents’ abode during summer break, and the need for students to buckle down and read a book.

Politicizing the Classroom, Part 1

Peter Wood

Peter Wood examines the AAUP’s new report on political controversy in the academy.

Ask a Scholar: Did the New Deal End the Great Depression?

Steven Horwitz

Is sustained deficit spending successful in bringing a country out of a depression?

What Do College Graduates Know?

Michael Block

An NAS survey of Arizona college graduates' knowledge of the liberal arts.

Elvis vs. Julia: A Lesson from the Liberal Arts

David Clemens

We would desire a free life all the more if we really grasped what the liberal arts has to teach.

Pope Center Plugs NAS 100 Great Ideas

Glenn Ricketts

The Pope Center's Jay Schalin writes about our 100 Great Ideas.

HuffPost Live Discussion on Recent Books vs. Classics


Ashley Thorne appeared on HuffPost Live to discuss the broader consequences of college common reading consisting almost entirely of recent books.

Group Preferences Based on "Place" vs. Preferences Based on Race

George Leef

George Leef reviews Professor Sheryll Cashin's recent book, Place, Not Race.

Hate Crime Hoaxes

Chance Layton

In an article featured in Hate Crimes: A Reference Handbook, NAS Executive Director Ashley Thorne writes about the danger of hate crime hoaxes.

The Lack of Prudence of Fossil Fuel Supporters

Bruce Gilley

Bruce Gilley replies to Leo Goldstein arguing that humility and discretion are needed in the climate change debate. 

Righteous Witness

John E. Staddon

John Staddon writes about Duke University and the new religion.

He's Our Lex Icon

Ashley Thorne

Anu Garg, founder of and the beloved A.Word.A.Day, graciously agreed to an interview with us for His passion for good words is infectious, and his creativity delightful. Enjoy! "Words are like air—they are all around us even though we can't see them, and they are just as essential." - Anu Garg

Russ Nieli Writes About "Diversity's" Dirty Little Secret

George Leef

Princeton's Russ Nieli has an illuminating essay on Minding the Campus entitled "How Diversity Punishes Asians, Poor Whites and Lots of Others." It absolutely knocks the stuffing out of the contention we hear so often from college administrators that their reason for using certain preferences is that a more "diverse" student body will enhance learning and break down stereotypes. If they actually wanted to do that, they would look for students who really do bring different beliefs and perspectives and would drop the bias Nieli shows against students from military families, those who have been active in groups like 4H, and so on. They aren't looking for Justice Powell's phantom "educational benefits of diversity" but are merely looking to fill quotas. Nieli advocates that elite colleges get over their diversity mania and follow what he calls the Cal Tech model: focus on enrolling students who are the most academically talented and the most eager to learn.

How Do North Carolina Schools Do on General Education?

George Leef

That's the subject of today's Pope Center piece by Jenna Robinson. Most are rather weak when it comes to requiring a broad education.

2. Psychotherapeutic Interventions, Transformative Learning, and the Dorms of U Delaware

Tom Wood

The ResLife program at the University of Delaware has received a great deal of well-deserved ridicule and opprobrium in recent weeks, but virtually all of the attention has been directed at the details of the radical views on race it promulgated. Little or no attention has been given to placing these details within the larger context of the concept of "education" that inspired and drove the program. This is unfortunate, because understanding the wider context of the ResLife program at Delaware is as important as the details.

Great Books in the News

Ashley Thorne

An interview with Bruce Gans

Higher Education and Economic Growth

Tom Wood

Tom Wood makes the case that higher education is worth public support.

Dangers of Credentialing the College Degree: A Real-Life Example

Jason Fertig

An email exchange between a student and a professor illustrates the popular idea that students are entitled to get a passing grade - even if they don't earn one.

Politicizing the Classroom, Part 2

Peter Wood

Peter Wood completes his two-part critique of the new statement from the American Association of University Professors on political controversy in academe.

Where Were You?

Peter Wood

Peter Wood reflects on the reverberations of 9/11 in his life, the university, and the culture at large.

Teresa Sullivan and Diversity: Then and Now

Glenn Ricketts

University of Virginia president Sullivan once viewed "diversity" very differently than she does now.

APSA Takes on Citation Discrimination

Glenn Ricketts

The American Political Science Association brings gender equity to scholarly citation.

Small Latin, and Less Greek

Bruce S. Thornton

Bruce Thornton, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and professor at California State University, Fresno, reviews Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures, and Innovations by Mary Beard.

Peter Wood's Book on Anger Cited in NRO


The National Review's Jim Geraghty references NAS president Peter Wood's book in an article about the presidential campaign. 

Non-Trump University

Chance Layton

NAS President Peter Wood writes about the "bait-and-switch" of American higher education.

Register for "Securing Liberty" Conference on January 21


Early bird pricing ends December 31. Join us in celebration of NAS's 30th anniversary. 

Modern vs. Western Thought: America's Affliction

William H. Young

William Young concludes this series with an examination of the long term effects of modern thought in American higher education.

Turning a Blind Eye To Academic Dishonesty

Peter Wood

Last week NAS President Peter Wood wrote to University of Houston President Renu Khator asking for a review of a high profile case of plagiarism. 

Heart of Darkness

David Clemens

Teaching Introduction to Literature, I see a curious new phenomenon:  more and more students complain, bitterly, about how dark the readings are.  I’m not sure what this new critical term means; I employ a canonical set of works including Hawthorne, Melville, Conrad, Kafka, Sophocles, and newer works by Phillip Larkin, Tobias Wolff, and J.G. Ballard.  If such authors do anything, they force us to face existential questions.  Once, students went to college to experience just this sort of perennial questioning.  Today, questioning is a nonstarter having been replaced by what Phillip Rieff called “the triumph of the therapeutic” and, as he predicted, by students preoccupied only with themselves and with attaining a “durable sense of well-being.”  This ends any interest in reading about what Victor Davis Hanson calls “the tragic limitations of human existence and how to meet them and endure them with dignity.” When Larkin observes that

At death you break up:  the bits that were you Start speeding away from each other for ever With no one to see

it does not sit well with the Facebook and Twitter crowd, many of whom are now convinced that advancements in regenerative medicine will indefinitely postpone their senescence.  With death no longer inevitable, they find that a literature based on the tragedy of mortality is both archaic and irrelevant.  In insulated, technological isolation, with electronic “friends” and avatars, Comedy Central and Family Guy, they are more concerned with distraction and are irritated that plot and character create inevitabilities and moral consequences.  That’s just so...dark.

In Memoriam

David Clemens

Most good teachers had a model. Robert Pinsky had Francis Ferguson; Mark Edmundson had Frank Lears. I was lucky; I had two. My Freshman Comp. teacher was Dr. Idelle Sullens, a Stanford-trained medievalist specializing in 14th century literature. But I was mystified to learn that she had also been a naval officer in World War II and Korea. And rumor had it that she was something called a “Daughter of Bilitis.” But what really fractured my high school brain was seeing Dr. Sullens pull up in her brand new `64 Mustang. That I understood, and it elevated her beyond cool. My disturbing discovery was that one could seem professorial but also be startlingly complicated.  Two years later, it was the Lincolnesque Beat Generation scholar Tom Parkinson. One drowsy afternoon in Berkeley’s Wheeler Auditorium, Parkinson recited Ezra Pound’s “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter”with tears streaming down his partially-paralyzed cheeks (he had been shot in the face by a student). I was embarrassed but also feared that this moment was profound in a way I might never understand. How could he so reveal himself? It took years to learn that throughout one’s life, good literature deepens and grows, accumulating, preserving, and incorporating intense personal associations. Now there are poems I can’t read aloud without leaking tears. Both are gone now, but the spirits of Sullens and Parkinson still gently remind me to be unexpected, singular, complicated, and exposed so that my students will see that one day they can do the same.

Starting from Scratch in Climate Change Science

Ashley Thorne

An article in the Guardian this weekend tells about a Berkeley physics professor, Richard Muller, who has assembled a team of scientists for an initiative he calls the Berkeley Earth project. His goal is to do research on climate change by essentially starting over and creating new models from scratch. He intends to use different methods than the ones that have already been used to produce findings currently hailed as evidence for global warming. Muller acknowledges that as of now, there is still no consensus on the state of warming, and that the skeptics have made legitimate criticisms of the methods used in research so far. He seeks to produce results untainted by political influence and, according to the Guardian, is strictly interested in scientific accuracy. "Science has its weaknesses and it doesn't have a stranglehold on the truth, but it has a way of approaching technical issues that is a closer approximation of truth than any other method we have," he said.

3. Residence Life, the Shaha Troupe, and Social Justice Education at U Mass Amherst

Tom Wood

Our posting of 11 December (below), "Psychotherapeutic Interventions, Transformative Learning, and the Dorms of U Delaware," was the second in a series that will attempt to assess whether and to what extent U Delaware's ResLife diversity training program might be typical of programs at other universities.

California Association Talks of War

Ashley Thorne

Our California affiliate invites you to a free evening with Victor Davis Hanson.

Another Fox News Segment on NAS Freshman Summer Reading Study

Steve Doocy and Tucker Carlson discuss NAS's "Beach Books" study on Fox and Friends (VIDEO).

Do Good Professors Give F's?

Jason Fertig

When C means degree, professors should pass only students who meet course standards, counsels Jason Fertig.

Competency and Western Civilization

William H. Young

William Young examines the decline of the competency that is vital to a skilled workforce.

Far Worse Than Mere Dumbing-Down

George Leef

Robert Weissberg questions APSA's assertion that all knowledge is race based.

Save the Date: NAS Conference and Dinner 2013


Mark your calendars for NAS's national conference and gala March 1-2, 2013 in New York City!

Common Core State Standards: The Achievement Gap

William H. Young

William Young explains why a uniformly rigorous core curriculum will produce the best results for all students, irrespective of their social backgrounds.

Campus Activism: The Fight for Imaginary Victories

Peter Wood

Campus activists fight against an imaginary villain of social injustice.

Peter Wood Discusses "The Meaning of Sex" on the Radio

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood talks with the Armstrong & Getty Show about his recent Weekly Standard cover story. 

Watch for NAS Articles in Claremont Review of Books


NAS president Peter Wood and board member Thomas D. Klingenstein are published in the forthcoming summer issue of the Claremont Review of Books.

Dear Aspiring Professor

Robert E. Gordon

Dr. Gordon gives advice to future adjuncts on their journey toward tenure. 

Me, My Emotions, and I

Nayeli Riano

College English classes should train students in scholarship, not subjectivity. 

The Campaign to Reform the College Board, Continued


Peter Wood and David Randall continue the campaign to reform the AP European History examination.

An Open Letter to the College Board on AP: World History

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood writes to the College Board to propose reforms to the revised AP: World History exam. 

The Continuing Rot at Duke University

Michael Krauss

Herewith a link to the most recent posting by the excellent legal journalist Stuart Taylor.  In a book co-authored with K.C. Johnson, Taylor had chronicled in detail the enormous travesty of justice at Duke when a black stripper falsely accused white male lacrosse players of rape -- the denial of due process to the laxers was reminiscent of Jim Crow days, but with racial roles reversed.  [I discuss the case and the book in an Academic Questions article entitled "Durham's Disgrace" - subscription required].  Taylor's recent posting details the continuing rise to glory of the Duke academics who had tried to "lynch" the laxers.  It makes for riveting and depressing reading.  Duke alums, if you haven't yet suspended your donations, now's the time.

Three Law School Articles

Ashley Thorne

Of interest to law professors, lawyers, and curious individuals, NAS has recently published three articles about law schools: “Conferring Privilege: DOJ, Law Schools, and the New Politics of Race” examines the Association of American Law Schools’ efforts to prevent racial colorblindness. “’They So Despise Her Politics’ - Do Conservative Faculty Candidates Get a Fair Shake?” presents documents in the lawsuit of an unsuccessful faculty candidate for a position at the University of Iowa College of Law who believes she was denied the appointment because of her politics. "Potemkin Admissions: Law Professors Propose to Hide LSAT Data" exposes a movement to persuade law schools to withhold LSAT scores from U.S. News and World Report. The idea is to make it harder for the public to see how much the pursuit of racial preferences drags down the quality of admissions. "They So Despise Her Politics" has received attention from the Daily Iowan, Instapundit, TaxProf Blog, and One Minute Lawyer.

Another Piece of Evidence that Federal Spending is Out of Control

George Leef

In this eye-popping Minding the Campus essay, KC Johnson writes about a recent federally-funded conference that’s as clear a case of wasteful special interest group spending as you’ll ever find. I doubt that there is any constitutional justification for the National Science Foundation at all, but certainly not for it to spend tax dollars on a conference devoted to how minority political science professors can get tenure.

4. No Escape at U Mass Amherst

Tom Wood

Located in western Massachusetts, the University of
Massachusetts Amherst is a national research university
recognized for superb faculty, outstanding teaching and top-notch students
who come from across the state and around the world.

Stanley Fish and the Storm in Ottowa

Peter Wood

Professor Fish blogged in the New York Times about Dennis Rancourt, a self-described anarchist and an advocate of

U.S. Founding Fathers on Education, in Their Own Words

Ashley Thorne

In honor of Independence Day, here are some words of wisdom on education from our founding fathers.

More on For-Profit Colleges

Carol Iannone

Carol Iannone questions both the real and potential merits of for-profit education.

Science, Faith, and Academic Freedom: Erskine College Swats a Gadfly

Peter Wood

A professor's dismissal raises questions about whether religious colleges can protect both academic freedom and a creedal mission.

John Stossel Interviews Illinois Affiliate Head Jonathan Bean

Glenn Ricketts

The leader of the Illinois Association of Scholars is eloquent on the subject of business & race.

Richard Vedder on PSU Report and University Governance

Glenn Ricketts

NAS Board member Richard Vedder suggests some necessary reforms in university governance in light of the Penn State scandal.

AQ Editor Felicia Sanzari Chernesky Publishes Children's Book

Ashley Thorne

Felicia Sanzari Chernesky has published Pick a Circle, Gather Squares: A Fall Harvest of Shapes.

Fall 2014 Academic Questions Highlights Western Culture and Tradition


The fall 2014 issue of Academic Questions offers special essays, poetry, and reviews that illimune the foundations of Western tradition.

APUSH and Speaking in Educational Code

KC Johnson

Brooklyn College historian KC Johnson finds the new AP history standards heavy on skills, light on content.

The Hungry Ocean: Sustainability and the Curriculum

Peter Wood

Universities are increasingly dominated by the view that we live in environmentally desperate times

Affirmative Action at the University of Louisville: A Case Study

Ben Foster

An examination of the application of seldom-scrutinized affirmative action policies in one university.

Debating Scientific Epistemology

Edward R. Dougherty

Professor Dougherty discusses the dangers of modeling complex systems in response to Professors Gilley and Goldstein.

Professor's Racial Harassment of White Student was 'Personal'

Dion J. Pierre

A Native American professor at San Diego State University racially harassed a white student, the California State Department of Justice concluded last week.

Defense Bill Limits Funding for Colleges with Confucius Institutes


An amendment by Senator Ted Cruz targets Department of Defense funding for colleges. 

Do We Need Class-Based Affirmative Action?

George Leef

I was recently asked to respond to that question for The Chronicle Review, prompted by a recent study finding that many college students who drop out say that the reason they did so was too much pressure to work to earn money. Roger Clegg and I were the Grinches in the piece. There was a tight word limit on comments and there are some points I think worth adding. First, how do we really know why a student drops out? It is easy and I would think tempting for a student who just couldn't or wouldn't handle the academic work to save face by stating that financial pressure was the reason for leaving school. Second, instituting class-based affirmative action wouldn't do anything for poor people (or more accurately, poor people who have children who can get into college) as a group. The tendency of leftists to look at the world in terms of groups (and also to judge policies by their intentions) gets in the way of understanding the true impact of affirmative action. Suppose that all the selective schools decided that they wanted a quota of, say, 10 percent SES (socio-economic status) admits. That would be a small percentage of the total number of students from lower income households who go to college, and those given this preference would undoubtedly be the best of those students -- kids who probably could handle the workload at the non-selective colleges where they'd otherwise enroll. At the same time as a few students are admitted on SES grounds, equal numbers of non-poor students will have to enroll at a less selective institution. Going to a more selective school might be of a slight benefit to those few who are chosen to fill SES quotas (or it might actually prove harmful on "mismatch" and cost grounds), but it doesn't make the mass of poorer people one bit better off.

A Click of the Mouse, a Turn of the Page

Brian T. Johnson

David Brooks of the New York Times writes a fine column on the power of books in the age of the internet. His observations are prompted by a study which finds that low income elementary school students who receive books prior to summer break become better readers than peers who do not. Working with colleagues, Dr. Richard Allington of the University of Tennessee carried out the study, which will be published in Reading Psychology later in the year. This kind of book distribution program can be seen as a low-cost alternative to summer school, which brings up a couple interesting questions. Would it be a realistic and adequate substitute for summer school? If so, will it be adopted or will challenges arise to prevent or limit its implementation? Tomorrow is the last day of summer school for the local school district, in which I volunteer. I'd like to think the students have learned and grown in ways that they wouldn't have if they weren't there. However, there's no substitute for young students reading on their own and working with their parents at home.  Ceteris paribus, students and society would seem to be better off not with summer school but with this alternative. In terms of politics, it will be interesting to see the unions and the rest of the public education bureacracy react to this. If expanded,  the program could presumably be a small but important step towards today's holy grail in education policymaking - closure of the achievement gap. However, ditching summer school means school districts have a lower demand for labor. When was the last time a teachers union embraced anything of the sort?

Women's Studies...Men's Studies...Male Studies

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call Wendy McElroy takes a look at this progression on college campuses. First, Women's Studies programs emerged, followed by a sympathetic offshoot, "Men's Studies." Now there's a movement to create Male Studies. What is it all about? Advancing scholarship into new fields of knowledge? Or is this simply the balkanization of the curriculum, creating niche courses to keep a few professors happy?

5. Res Life and the Decline of Campus Community (Part I)

Tom Wood

Previous postings in this series have examined the ideological and pedagogical pathologies of Res Life programs at U Delaware and U Mass-Amherst. More programs at other institutions will be uncovered and discussed in future postings. Before we proceed any further with that, however, it is a good idea to step back briefly and place these programs in perspective. These rogue programs need to be seen within the larger context of Residential Life programs at residential colleges generally.

Update on UW Fox Dean's Blog

Ashley Thorne

The votes are in! This is a story of a university administrator who wrongly assumed that his political posturing would be met with widespread approbation.

Never Waste a Good Cliche

Peter Wood

The sustainability ethic of a college president.

Collegiate Press Roundup 7-7-10

Glenn Ricketts

Student editors take a look this week at the complexities of friendship, the ominous implications of a recent Supreme Court decision, and the Obama administration

Massachusetts Association of Scholars Spotlight

Dennis Outwater

The new president of the Massachusetts Association of Scholars outlines his vision for the affiliate.

Amicus Brief in Support of Rehearing Michigan Civil Rights Case

After receiving this amicus brief from NAS and civil rights organizations, the 6th circuit court of appeals has agreed to rehear a case that will determine whether the state of Michigan will ban racial preferences. Court has agreed to do so.

Capitalism and Western Civilization: Liberal Education

William H. Young

William Young discusses the need for liberal educatrion for today's workforce.

NAS Board Nominations Now Open


The deadline for members to submit nominations for the NAS Board of Directors is September 19.

NAS Member Barbara Oakley Teaches Popular MOOC


NAS member Barbara Oakley is teaching the largest course on learning ever taught. 

Losing the Republic: The Progressive Hijack of Civics Education - 1/10/17 in DC


Join us in Washington, DC on Tuesday, January 10, for a formal event celebrating the release of our new report Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics

In Memoriam: Bruce Cole

Steve Balch

The former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities was a gentleman scholar committed to serving the nation. 

An Open Letter in Support of a Besieged Academic


Rachel Fulton Brown seems unusually friendless as she defends against derisive epithets from colleagues and hecklers. NAS is calling for academics and their institutions to sign this letter in her support.

Arne Duncan on Student Lending

George Leef

In today's Wall Street Journal, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan contributes a piece entitled "Banks Don't Belong in the Student Loan Business." What he opposes is federally subsidized bank loans and I'm with him on that. Subsidizing student loans is no better policy than subsidizing home loans. Where we part company is in his approval of direct government loans, which he wants to increase so that more students can "realize the dream of getting a college education." As I have frequently pointed out, a college degree is what many students want. Relatively few dream of education. Low-cost loans entice large numbers of young people who gain little if anything in the way of lasting knowledge and skills into college, where they pile of debts they'll have a hard time repaying once they get into the labor force and get a job that most high school kids could do. Besides that, nothing in the Constitution authorizes the federal government to lend money for this or any other purpose.

The Growing Realization that the Higher Ed Emperor is Wearing No Clothes

George Leef

The careful image campaign that the higher ed establishment has conducted for decades seems to be wearing off, if this Washington Examiner piece is any indication. The writer observes that lots of American students now get their high-cost college degrees, but can't even do basic math. Many of them can (and will!) hector you about "sustainability," their concerns about social justice, institutional racism and so on -- but they can't work out the simplest of numerical problems. A large number of jobs now "require" college degrees, but that requirement rarely has anything to do with actual knowledge. It's a screening device to keep out supposedly less prepared and trainable high school graduates, but it's becoming clear that many college graduates are no better.

Unionizing Higher Ed

Brian T. Johnson

Naomi Schaefer Riley writes in USA Today about the ongoing unionization of public higher education. The sprawling labor force of an ever-expanding academy has become a fertile recruiting ground for the labor movement. The results could be unfortunate for scholarship, schools and the public. Riley and others have cited the recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicating that public sector union ranks continue to swell and now exceed the total number of private union members (7.6 vs. 7.1 million). While overall union membership rate dropped from 12.3% to 11.9% in 2010 according to BLS, the writer notes that faculty and graduate student membership in collective bargaining units has increased 17% over the last five years. Educators, administrators and policy actors should resist public university system collective bargainning, as Gov. Scott Walker is doing in Wisconsin. In the long run, higher-ed unionization threatens not only state budgets but the ability of public universities to compete deftly with private counterparts.

6. Who Educates the Whole Person These Days? Anyone? (Res Life and the Decline of Campus Community, Part 2)

Tom Wood

Our recent posting, "Residence Life and the Decline of Campus Community, Part 1," aimed to place Res Life programs within the wider context of the contemporary American college and university, and in particular to highlight the central role Res Life programs have been given in the creation of "campus community."

Good Practice: An NAS Series (2)

Peter Wood

What is the best way to teach a course? To organize a curriculum? To administer a college? To serve as a trustee? We want to hear from you.

Campus Reform Looks Forward

Ashley Thorne

NAS welcomes a new web-based effort to reform higher education.

Dana College Discontinued

Ashley Thorne

Having lost its accreditation, Dana College, a small Lutheran college in Nebraska founded in 1884 by Danish pioneers, announced this week that it will close.

The Distance Yet to Go

Steve Balch

A new book on ideology in academe leaves some questions unanswered. How do the perspectives of students in the humanities compare with those of a more general student body? Doesn't the high percentage of liberal freshmen tell us something about K-12 education? And what about the "received wisdom effect"?

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

Student press hawks discuss the remembrance of 9/11, classroom bores, deniers of evolution and the need for a smoke-free campus.

Take Back Sustainability

Antonio R. Chaves

Sustainability is too important for us to let it be undermined by politics and polarization, writes Antonio Chaves, who teaches environmental science.

Terrific Essay Contest – Pass the Word

George Leef

Find out how to enter the second annual Douglas B. Rogers Conditions of a Free Society Essay Competition.

Sustainability’s Latest Pulpit

Rachelle Peterson

The advocacy organization Second Nature launches a new signatory initiative, the Alliance for Resilient Campuses. 

Wasted Colleges: The New Civics in Colorado - 1/12/17 in Denver, CO


Join us in Denver, CO on Thursday, January 12, for an evening event celebrating the release of our new report Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics

Unveiling Communist China's Global Soft Power Outposts


NAS Director of Research Projects Rachelle Peterson reviews a new documentary "In the Name of Confucius," on China's influence on Western higher education.

In Memoriam: Milt Rosenberg

Steve Balch

The professor turned talk show host kept conversations highbrow while winning a nationwide audience's love. 

Capitol Ideas: Government Overreach and Higher Education


A summary of NAS's regional conference held at Grove City College, August 10 and 11. 

Michelle Malkin on Zinn and 'Social Justice' Education

Ashley Thorne

This week in Frontpage Magazine Michelle Malkin has an article, "Hollywood and Howard Zinn's Marxist Education Project." Here's an excerpt:

Zinn’s objective is not to impart knowledge, but to instigate “change” and nurture a political “counterforce” (an echo of fellow radical academic and Hugo Chavez admirer Bill Ayers’ proclamation of education as the “motor-force of revolution”). Teachers are not supposed to teach facts in the school of Zinn. “There is no such thing as pure fact,” Zinn asserts. Educators are not supposed to emphasize individual academic achievement. They are supposed to “empower” student collectivism by emphasizing “the role of working people, women, people of color and organized social movements.” School officials are not facilitators of intellectual inquiry, but leaders of “social struggle.” Zinn and company have launched a nationwide education project in conjunction with the documentary. “A people’s history requires a people’s pedagogy to match,” Zinn preaches. The project is a collaboration between two “social justice” activist groups, Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. [...] No part of the school curriculum is immune from the social justice makeover crew. Zinn’s partners at Rethinking Schools have even issued teaching guides to “Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers” — which rejects the traditional white male patriarchal methods of teaching computation and statistics in favor of p.c.-ified number-crunching [see NAS's articles on this, "Social Changelings" and "Mathematical Deceptions"]. [...] Our students will continue to come in dead last in international testing. But no worries. With Howard Zinn and Hollywood leftists in charge, empty-headed young global citizens will have heavier guilt, wider social consciences and more hatred for America than any other students in the world.

Ben Wildavsky's Book on the Globalization of Higher Ed

George Leef

 That's the subject of my Clarion Call today. I like some aspects of the book. Best of all is Wildavsky's argument that we should abandon educational mercantilism -- the notion that nations have to compete to be tops in educational "investment," university prestige, and similar distractions. Because knowledge is not constrained by national boundaries, we should stop worrying about musty old "us versus them" ideas. Also, Wildavsky doesn't go for the tendency to bash for-profit higher ed, showing that it fills some important niches. What I didn't care for so much was the author's enthusiasm for the trend toward globalized universities, with lots of American universities setting up campuses in places such as Abu Dhabi. I see that as mostly glitz and conspicuous consumption rather than true educational advance.

Higher Education's Role in Coarsening Popular American Tastes

Peter Wood

Peter Wood has an interesting couple of articles on the Chronicle's Innovations blog this week. He compares Lily Bart, a fictional character in the 1905 novel The House of Mirth with Lady Gaga and talks about how higher education is responsible for giving "trash culture a veneer of respectability" and how it "encourages students to open themselves to many of their worst impulses" (Lily Bart vs. Lady Gaga).

7. Inside the ACPA Conference

Peter Wood

A Report on the Wanna-Be Revolutionaries of College Residential Life Programs


Peter Wood

How the sustainability movement self-reproduces

Dancing with the STARS

Ashley Thorne

AASHE publishes an early version of a project called the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS) to measure colleges' sustainability progress.

Encyclopedia of Sustainability, 4th Edition

Ashley Thorne

A 4th edition of the NAS 'sustainapedia' of the key names, terms, books, colleges, and organizations in the campus sustainability movement.

Study Shows Many States Fail in U.S. History Standards

Ashley Thorne

Where do states set the bar for teaching American history in K-12? Is the curriculum accurate, chronological, and clear? The Fordham Institute reports.

A Racially Restrictive Pipeline?

John Rosenberg

Displaying “grit and academic improvement” is not limited to minorities.

Ask a Scholar: Ocean Level

Mark R. Abbott

Are ocean levels rising? How do we know?

Common Core State Standards: Instructional Materials

William H. Young

William Young discusses the type of instructional materials necessary to improve K-12 educational outcomes.

New Book: End of Academic Freedom


Three scholars have written a new book that identifies the forces that are subverting higher education's mission.

The New York Review of Books and Others Highlight NAS Report


Articles and reviews of Outsourced to China, NAS's new report on Chinese soft power in American Higher Education.

Charting Academic Freedom: 103 Years of Debate - 2/1/2018 in New York City


Join us in New York City for the launch of NAS’s latest project, Charting Academic Freedom, a comparison of every major statement on intellectual freedom over the last century. 

The Incoming Flood of College Freshmen Won’t Learn How To Write

John Maguire

John G. Maguire discusses how to improve college students’ writing.

Is Scandal Inevitable When Scientists Become Activists?

Alex B. Berezow

By now, most of the world has heard of "Climategate"-- the e-mail scandal surrounding the Hadley Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the UK. (If you are unfamiliar with the story, you can catch up with this Wikipedia article.) In short, hackers broke into the university's e-mail system and posted on the internet private communications between climate researchers, and the e-mails are far from flattering. Besides gloating over the death of a climate change skeptic, the e-mails show concerted efforts by the researchers to manipulate temperature data, to block public access to their data, and (perhaps most disturbingly) to exclude skeptical or critical researchers from the peer review process. While it may be too early to describe this behavior as "scientific fraud," it is certainly appropriate to label it "unethical." The New York Times's John Tierney wrote an excellent piece about this scandal and its implications for climate change advocates. Tierney points out that the climate researchers involved became "so focused on winning the public-relations war that they exaggerate[d] their certitude -- and ultimately undermine[d] their own cause." What this situation also reveals is that scientists who become public policy advocates can lose the most important characteristic they have: objectivity. Scientists must accept data for what it is, not what they wish it to be. Scientists must deal with contradictory data, not ignore it. And most importantly, scientists must be transparent with their research and the conclusions they draw, not secretive. However, these ethical principles become far more difficult to uphold when scientists become activists. To be sure, "Climategate" does not disprove global climate change, but it absolutely raises the suspicions of a general public who is often leery of science to begin with. Furthermore, scandals such as this damage not only the researchers involved but the entire scientific endeavor itself. Scientists who become public policy advocates must walk a fine line.  Unfortunately, the researchers at East Anglia crossed that line.

'Socially Judicious' Art Ed?

Candace de Russy

Watch out for it -- already a fixture in leading schools of art education --before it becomes the norm in K-12 classes throughout the land, thus vastly politicizing the arts by making anti-capitalist, race/gender/class-obsessed (ne0-Marxist) "art activists" of our young. So warns art critic Michelle Marder Kamhi, with the worthy view in mind of galvanizing parents against  proposed provisions in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, whose Congressional reauthorization is pending. These provisions would, in line with Paulo Freire's dictum that all education is political, mandate social-justice art. "Art"? Such as the pro-illegal immigration creation "Brinco," or "jump" in Spanish, which would teach students to construct sneakers (jammed with compass, map, etc.) for people  attempting illegaly to cross our borders. Americans to the barricades, in the defense of true art education!

Donald Downs on the Battle in Madison

George Leef

University of Wisconsin professor Donald Downs (author of the excellent book Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus) has an essay on Minding the Campus in which he discusses the battle taking place in Madison. Do college professors ever use their courses to propagandize on political issues? That's just a right-wing myth, say many defenders of the higher education establishment. Read the essay and you'll learn that quite a few of Downs' UW colleagues could not resist the temptation.

The Scandal of Social Work Education

Barry Latzer

A study of politicization in social work education.

The Academy Ovoids

Peter Wood

We’re accepting nominations for the worst excesses in higher education.

Diversity's Doom & Pluralism's Plans

Ashley Thorne

A new book, The Politically Correct University, features chapters by NAS's president Peter Wood and NAS chairman Steve Balch.

Real Sustainability: Saving Our Sense of Culture

Jason Fertig

Are we failing to hand down our cultural legacy to the next generation?

Editor Accused of Libel Wins in Paris Court: Victory for Academic Freedom

Ashley Thorne

The progress of ideas was vindicated in a decision in favor of an academic journal editor who published a book review that the book's author found unflattering.

Video: The Politically Correct University

Andy Nash

Richard Redding joins Andy Nash for a discussion of the ideological imbalance among university faculty members.

OWS Course Dropped From Columbia’s Spring Offerings

Glenn Ricketts

An advocate of the Occupy movement almost took the lecturn, but Columbia axed the course

Higher Education and the "Wealth Gap"

George Leef

Higher education has little to do with the wealth gap in the US.

Sociological Gender Classification Update: No Comment

Glenn Ricketts

The American Sociological Association labors mightily for clarity and precision in gender classification.

Course Correction: It’s Time for UT-Austin’s President to Step Down

Publius Audax

A faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin calls on the president of the university to step down. 

AP US History: FAQs

Glenn Ricketts

Answers to some common questions about the new APUSH standards.

Seven Types of Suppression


NAS president Peter Wood writes on free speech and censorship in The New Criterion. 

How America Lost Its Scientific Edge and How to Get It Back

Chance Layton

NAS member Edward Dougherty writes on the decline of science and remedies to make Americans competitive once again.

Climategate Opens Wider

Candace de Russy

James Delingpole, in the Telegraph, recently noted:

Climategate just got much, much bigger. And all thanks to the Russians who, with perfect timing, dropped this bombshell just as the world’s leaders are gathering in Copenhagen to discuss ways of carbon-taxing us all back to the dark ages.

The Moscow-based Institute of Economic Analysis (IEA) reported that the Hadley Center for Climate Change had probably tampered with Russian-climate data:

The IEA believes that Russian meteorological-station data did not substantiate the anthropogenic global-warming theory ... Over 40% of Russian territory was not included in global-temperature calculations for some other reasons, rather than the lack of meteorological stations and observations.

Read why Joseph D'Aleo, a former professor of climatology,  calls this "paint-by-numbers science."


New Author on Jason Fertig

Ashley Thorne

I'm pleased to introduce Jason Fertig as a new contributor at Dr. Fertig is an NAS member and assistant professor of management at the University of Southern Indiana. Dr. Fertig brings a depth of perception and lively anecdotes from his own experience in the classroom to speak to some of the  most real issues in higher education today. He has written three articles for NAS so far:

More Millennials Need to Work at McDonalds advises recent college graduates: get a job, anywhere. Real Sustainability: Saving Our Sense of Culture asks, "Are we failing to hand down our cultural legacy to the next generation?" Dangers of Credentialing the College Degree: A Real-Life Example is a case study that illustrates the popular idea that students are entitled to get a passing grade - even if they don't earn one.

I especially recommend the third article, which received attention from blogs such as Phi Beta Cons and Joanne Jacobs. Also check out his essay at the Pope Center on the gap year, The Gift of Academic Maturity. Fertig spoke about the gap year this morning on Wisconsin Public Radio. You can look forward to more NAS articles by Dr. Fertig in the weeks ahead.

My Top Ten List

George Leef

Top ten books about higher education, that is. In today's Pope Center piece, I give my picks for the books people should read if they want to understand American higher education, and invite readers to suggest others.

The Social Work Story Develops

Key National Group Will Not Discuss NAS Social Work Report

Lincoln's Bicentennial

Peter Wood

Happy 200th birthday Abe!

Horowitz vs. Islamo-Billikenism

Peter Wood

Perhaps St. Louis University's pointy-eared mascot was behind SLU's recent decision to disinvite David Horowitz from speaking on campus.

Conferring Privilege: DOJ, Law Schools, and the New Politics of Race

Peter Wood

On the 45th anniversary of affirmative action, a law school association is working against colorblindness.

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

This week's student columnists complain about meatless Mondays and consider the limits of First Amendment freedoms and innovative pedagogy in Human Sexuality courses.

NAS Beach Books Reports Reflected in MLA Panel Discussion

Glenn Ricketts

Our ongoing report on common reading is recognized at the MLA convention.

Unfashionable Ideas

Peter Wood

Peter Wood reviews the National Association of Scholars’ changing approach to reforming higher education.

An Exchange on the Bowdoin Report: Harvey Mansfield and Bowdoin's Paul Franco


In the Claremont Review of Books, Harvey Mansfield and Paul Franco disagree about What Does Bowdoin Teach?

Study Finds Poetry Slighted in Common Core English Standards

Sandra Stotsky

Significant overall reduction in time spent on classic literary texts will make it difficult to give poetry the prominence it deserves.

NAS Board Member Writes On Liberal Bias In Academia

Madison Iszler

Jay Bergman, an NAS board member and professor at CCSU in Connecticut, writes about the need for intellectual diversity on college campuses. 

APUSH Teachers Speak

Ashley Thorne

High school AP U.S. history teachers are coming forward to share their dissatisfaction with the current version of the College Board’s APUSH framework.

Modern Versus Western Thought: Thinking From The Founding

William H. Young

William Young examines the Constitution's origins in the Western philosophical tradition.

How The Great Society Made a Mess of Higher Education

Spencer Kashmanian

"LBJ's federal interventions created a system in which students are the greatest losers."

"Death to Moby Dick!"

David Clemens

 The Chronicle of Higher Education jobs list includes this gem: “The Department of English at UCLA invites applications for the position of Assistant Professor in Residence, in the area of 19th-century American literature . . . .” “Candidates should demonstrate engagement with the changing dynamics of the field, which is now characterized by disparate approaches and new configurations of interests, including (but not limited to) transatlantic studies, hemispheric studies, print culture and material textuality studies, gender and sexuality studies, visual culture studies, comparative race and ethnicity studies, geographical studies, disability studies, and other innovative frameworks.” Literature?  The mind boggles.  Disability studies should have a field day with Captain Ahab.

Diversity? Of Course We Have Diversity

Glenn Ricketts

If you haven't already done so, check out this piece by Ross Douthat in the New York Times. Following up on Russell Nieli's compelling reasearch, which we referenced here last week, Douthat - himself a Harvard graduate - takes note of the deep and ever widening cultural divide between elite academic institutions and the values of rural, religiously observant working-class whites, who are notably absent from Ivy League campuses. Don't think though, that this means anyone sees a need to seek them out for the sake of increasing "diversity" at Yale or Princeton. No, the academics at these cloistered, self-referencing institutions are likely to see only "crypto-klansmen and budding Timothy McVeighs" among the farmers, Eagle Scouts or aspiring R.O.T.C. candidates who currently have the toughest row to hoe if they apply to most top schools. If these applicants think that the deck is stacked against them, that's because it is: the "perfessers" really don't like folks like them.

The Sad Effects of Mass Credentialization

George Leef

In today's Pope Center piece, Tulane University sociology professor Carl Bankston writes about the important new book Academically Adrift in light of his own experiences with college students. Do managers of waffle houses really need to have earned college degrees?

Collateral Damage in Social Work

The release of NAS’s report, The Scandal of Social Work Education, has prompted follow-up reporting in the press and some reflection by a former student.

Social Work Ed: Still Scandalous, But State Licensing Boards Not Scandalized

Glenn Ricketts

State licencing boards failed to respond to the imminent concerns NAS has raised about social work school accreditation.

Letter to Dean Smith from David Horowitz

David Horowitz

David Horowitz defends himself to St. Louis University Dean of Students Scott Smith.

"They So Despise Her Politics" - Do Conservative Faculty Candidates Get a Fair Shake?

Peter Wood

An unsuccessful faculty candidate for a position at the University of Iowa College of Law believes she was denied the appointment because of her politics.

Milestones for the NAS

Peter Wood

NAS's two signal events in 2011 pointed college students back to the core principles of the liberal arts and sciences.

Call For Civic Learning

Glenn Ricketts

Mr. Ricketts advocates the study of civics, but his idea of such a course differs from how the a recent DoED report interprets the subject.

UK Students And Their Blooping History Exams

Glenn Ricketts

UK history students demonstrate blooping proficiency.

The Fall 2013 Issue of Academic Questions Is Out

Tessa Carter

The fall 2013 issue of AQ features "critical thoughts in critical times."

California Association of Scholars Conference in June


The California Association of Scholars will co-host a conference, "Failing Grades: The Crisis in Teaching on our University Campuses."

Are Colleges Wasting Endowment Funds on Virtue-Signaling?

Rachelle Peterson

Political posturing is inappropriate to institutions of higher education.

A Politically Correct Revolution

William H. Young

William Young doesn't recognize the portrayal of the American Revolution at a new museum in Philadelphia

Divesting Freedom: The Fossil Fuel Divestment’s Campaign Against Civic Debate

Rachelle Peterson

NAS Policy Director Rachelle Peterson spoke in New Orleans, LA on the future of divestment.

Online Education: Why We Need More of It

Jonathan Bean

Many who argue for a return to a more traditional, rigorous curriculum are also critical of online education. In this blog, I make the case that online education can help scholars reach nontraditional audiences, a cliche to be sure, but one that rings true with my personal experience after 15 years of delivering "distance learning" in addition to my "brick-and-mortar" courses. First, it is no accident that online courses aren't full of the trendy postmodern nonsense that dominates campus offerings. Nonsense flourishes where it is not transparent to the larger world. Online education operates by making itself transparent and open to that larger community. Second, many institutions face stiff financial challenges. While I work at a state university, the online education division is entirely self-financed: not a single taxpayer dime, all revenue comes from tuition of students who sign up for courses. It is no accident that this division is the most entrepreneurial of all our divisions, and most no-nonsense with its offerings (Foucault 101 wouldn't "sell" to our students in the military, single parents working during the day, high school teachers expanding their content knowledge, etc.). Online education can be done badly. There is a possible "race to the bottom" in terms of quality but, as the work of the NAS amply demonstrates, this is also a problem on campus. If anything, the market reality provides a test of what people--not tenured radicals--want from a college education. As an advocate for online education at my university, I submitted the following presentation to my college of liberal arts. For those unsure about online education, I also recommend an excellent 20-minute video presentation that I have posted online (with the permission of the professor).

A Pervasive Person from Porlock

David Clemens

The Regents of the University of California just voted to embrace a pilot program testing the efficacy of an online undergraduate degree.  Until now, like most research universities, UC has been leery of the online environment because of the thorny problems it poses:  questionable security, dubious academic integrity, loss of “voices around the table,” substantial and perpetual costs. Conversely, online education does seem inevitable given our technological dependence, a Beltway “college-for-all” mindset, corporate customer service business models, and ruthless competition.  "It's the future," gushed Regent Bonnie Reiss. Despite teaching online for years and running an online program, I remain ambivalent about the marriage of technology and education.  Showing INXS’s “Devil Inside” to spice up “Young Goodman Brown” used to be stimulating; now it’s just disruptive.  Why jerk students back to the terrain they already inhabit, filled with insistent, continuous, cognitive shifts whose interruptions prevent learning?  Handling electronic information, Nicholas Carr says,

We become mere signal processing units, quickly shepherding disjointed bits of information into and then out of short-term memory.

As one online student just posted, “During the time it took me to read for this assignment, I received 1 phone call, 6 emails, 4 text messages and 1 Skype message.” At the Young Rhetoricians’ Conference in June, the most instructive point about online education was made by Porsche, a young African-American college student, who said, “I don’t want to study organic chemistry on my computer.  My computer is where I go to have fun.” The UC Regents would do well to heed her words because Porsche really is the future.

Would a University Allow Retribution Against Students?

George Leef

I don't know if the allegations in this piece are true, but if they are, it's a stunning example of the viciousness of the left toward those who challenge their favored politicians. A professor who ran against an incumbent Democrat in Oregon last year states that OSU is taking retribution against his children, who have excellent academic records. This calls for a serious investigation.

Student Investigates Social Work at Syracuse

Caroline Mojonnier, a student at Syracuse University, was moved by the NAS report to pursue some investigative journalism. She attended a session of SWK 326, "Persons in Social Contexts," a course in Syracuse University's School of Social Work, and spoke to the instructor afterwards. Her account in the student paper, The Daily Orange, - along with desipient comments by umbrage-taking classmates - can be read here.

Unworldly Diversity

Russell K. Nieli

A review of the book, The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies. This article appeared in the "Liberal Education and the Family" issue of Academic Questions (volume 22, number 1).

Academic Freedom and Discontent

Peter Wood

NAS President Peter Wood delivered this presentation at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization in February.

NAS President on Radio Tonight on Sustainability

Ashley Thorne

Peter Wood will appear on Milt Rosenberg’s Chicago-based radio program Extension 720 tonight to talk about the campus sustainability movement.

Lily Bart vs. Lady Gaga

Peter Wood

Peter Wood weighs higher education’s contribution to a culture that celebrates ostentatious vulgarity over the pursuit of civilized qualities.

Marxist Justice and Western Civilization

William H. Young

William Young discusses the mainstreaming of Marxist ideas in the K-12 educational curriculum.

Why the SCOTUS Should Reverse Grutter

Glenn Ricketts

The 2003 Supreme Court decision in Grutter v Bollinger was severely flawed. Larry Purdy wants it overturned.

Student Press Corps Commentary on Penn State Scandal

Glenn Ricketts

The release of the Freeh Report generates wide collegiate press analysis and commentary.

University of Virginia's Hostility to Coase, Buchanan, et al.

George Leef

A look back at the University of Virginia's economics department in the 1960s.

Welcome to My World

Jason Fertig

Jason Fertig writes on his first three months in the position of Faculty Senate Chair, where he has straddled the awkward fence between administration and faculty. 

Rachelle Peterson Discusses Exxon and Fossil Fuels on Mandy Connell Show


Rachelle Peterson discusses her Weekly Standard article, "Why They Hate Exxon," on the Mandy Connell Show. 

Radical Activists Hijack Civics Education, Study Finds


PRESS RELEASE: A new study, Making Citizens, documents how activists have taken over the term "civic learning" and turned it into a way to raise up a new generation of protesters. 

Pressure Mounts to Close Confucius Institutes on College Campuses

Rachelle Peterson

One year later and NAS's report on the Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes is still making waves.

Invitation to Comment on the Proposed Rescinding of the Gainful Employment Rule


The Department of Education has proposed to rescind the "Gainful Employment Rule." 

Robert P. George in the New York Times

Ashley Thorne

Check out this NYT article on NAS Board of Advisors member Robert P. George. 

Academia Hostile to Conservatives? The Jury's Still Out

Ashley Thorne

Is there a strong bias against conservatives in higher education? Researchers have produced numerous studies to examine this question. They have sought to measure bias quantitatively through various surveys. Usually they conclude that there is little evidence of bias, and that people who say there is are merely crying wolf. In a new in-depth essay at, NAS Chairman Steve Balch argues that the burden of proof should rest with those who deny bias: they must prove that it does not exist rather than demanding proof that it does. Dr. Balch's timely essay comes the week after NAS published "They So Despise Her Politics - Do Conservative Faculty Members Get a Fair Shake?. That article describes the case of Teresa Wagner, who believes she was denied a teaching position because of her conservative politics. There we published documents from Wagner's lawsuit against the University of Iowa College of Law. What do you think? How can we know for sure whether conservatives face systemic discrimination in the Ivory Tower?

Paul Krugman: "Education Isn't the Answer" for American Prosperity

Ashley Thorne

Today both Peter Wood and Jason Fertig observed that Paul Krugman, whom Peter calls one of the "stalwarts of the left,"  has gone on record to doubt the value of the college degree as the best path to prosperity for the majority of Americans. Krugman began his recent op-ed:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that education is the key to economic success. Everyone knows that the jobs of the future will require ever higher levels of skill. That’s why, in an appearance Friday with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Obama declared that “If we want more good news on the jobs front then we’ve got to make more investments in education.”
But what everyone knows is wrong.

Krugman goes on to argue that more education does not necessarily lead to a stronger national economy, an argument that NAS and our friends at the Pope Center and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity have been making for some time. Peter and Jason note that when someone as prominently on the left as Krugman acknowledges that the value of the college degree is weaker than it's cracked up to be, we must be nearing some broader consensus about higher education's worth.

Student Newspapers Invited to Delve into Social Work Story

NAS has opened communication with student newspapers at the universities studied in the report The Scandal of Social Work Education. NAS urges student journalists to use their unique vantage point to investigate further and report the truth about the state of social work schools at their universities. Those who publish articles covering this story may contact NAS and we will set up a link to the piece.

Comment on NPR's Broadcast, "The Cost of Being Green"

Peter Wood

Peter Wood submitted an abbreviated version of this note to NPR here.

Superb New Book by CT Affiliate Head

Ashley Thorne

We are proud to recognize that Jay Bergman, president of the NAS Connecticut affiliate and professor of history at Central Connecticut State University, has published a new book, Meeting the Demands of Reason: The Life and Thought of Andrei Sakharov.

Potemkin Admissions: Law Professors Propose to Hide LSAT Data

George W. Dent

A movement is afoot to persuade law schools to withhold LSAT scores from U.S. News and World Report. The idea is to make it harder for the public to see how much the pursuit of racial preferences drags down the quality of admissions.

Mark Bauerlein on the Prolonged Adolescence of the Rising Generation

Mark Bauerlein talks about the anti-intellectualism of new media on this week's Inside Academia.

What Does Bowdoin Teach?

Peter Wood

The National Association of Scholars announces the beginning of a new project examining the curriculum, student activities, and campus values of Bowdoin College as a case study to learn what a contemporary liberal arts college education consists of.

FIRE Sends Open Letter to OCR on Sexual Harassment, NAS Co-Signs

Glenn Ricketts

We collaborate with FIRE against OCR guidelines that trivialize sexual harassment with severe results to the careers of those frivolously charged.

NAS Board Member on Online Education

Ashley Thorne

A report by NAS board member Thomas K. Lindsay charts the rise of online education, its reception in the academic world, and how best to take advantage of its benefits.

California Association of Scholars Responds to UC Regents

Charles Geshekter

The California Association of Scholars responds a second time to UC's Board of Regents.

Re: Petraeus – An Open Letter to CUNY Chancellor William Kelly

Peter Wood

The university must actively stand against threats to academic freedom.

"Teaching" Ferguson

Ashley Thorne

Faculty members and teachers use the grand jury's decision in the Ferguson case as an opportunity to advance the view that America is plagued by racism.

Binghamton University Responds to NAS’s Report


SUNY Binghamton offers critiques and corrections to Outsourced to China

Perhaps Yale Administrators are the Sissies

Ashley Thorne

FIRE president Greg Lukianoff has an article in the Huffington Post about Yale' s qualms over a t-shirt with an F. Scott Fitzgerald quote: "I think of all Harvard men as sissies." Lukianoff wrote:

Unfortunately--and is it any surprise these days?--a couple of Yale administrators decided that the word "sissies" was too offensive because some people interpreted it as a slur against gay men. This was news to the Yale freshmen who, like me, see "sissies" as being funny primarily because it is such a ridiculous, silly, old-fashioned put down, somewhere between "cad" and "toots" as far as insults go. Besides, in context, Fitzgerald actually wrote, "I think of all Harvard men as sissies, like I used to be." Does anyone really think Fitzgerald was coming out as a success story of the ex-gay movement, or was he simply calling Harvard men, well, a bunch of sissies (modern translation: wusses, wimps, etc.)? The administrators were gearing up to ban the T-shirt, but the students backed down and changed the design.

The Adams Case and the First Amendment

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, Professor Donald Downs (author of Restoring Free Speech and Liberty on Campus) discusses the lawsuit UNC-Wilmington professor Mike Adams has brought against the school, in which he argues that its refusal to promote him was grounded in hostility to his writings and thus an infringement upon his First Amendment rights. Downs doesn't think the case is clearly black or white, but worries that the district court's ruling in favor of UNCW (the case is now on appeal to the Fourth Circuit) represents a further erosion of First Amendment protection for speech by public employees. I don't think this is an easy case either. We have here a collision between the First Amendment (or at least "First Amendment values" of uninhibited speech in the public realm) and another consideration that has, unfortunately, been given short shrift for most of the last century -- freedom of contract. I'm strongly inclined to say that employers and employees, public and private, should be free to enter into whatever contracts as they mutually agree. Professor Adams thought he deserved a promotion (a modification of his contract with the university), but the UNCW administration didn't agree. Should that decision be overridden in the courts because Adams' writings bothered the administrators? Does the First Amendment mean that public employees can never suffer any adverse consequences because of things they've said or written? Suppose we turn this case around so that the professor who wants the promotion is a rabid, hard-left socialist whose posts on, say, The Daily Kos, cause heartburn among the school's administrators. Would it be a blow to free speech if they told him that he won't get a promotion because his outside writings are such an embarrassment? Or would it be a sensible and harmless exercise in freedom of contract?

Faculty Unionization: Pro and Con

George Leef

In this week's Pope Center Clarion Call, we feature two sharply differing views on the hotly debated topic of faculty unionization. Arguing in favor is the AAUP's Cary Nelson. Arguing against is Professor Charles Baird, who fought against mandatory unionization in the Cal State system. Comments encouraged!

Hookup Ink

Wendy Shalit

This preview article, which appeared in the "Liberal Education and the Family" issue of Academic Questions (volume 22, number 1), is a review of three books on the campus hookup culture.

Spotlight - Thomas Edison State College

Ashley Thorne

A public institution enables students to cobble together a college degree by taking online classes earning credit for what they already know.

Diversity Discriminates

Ashley Thorne

How elite colleges and universities unfairly rig admissions standards and call it "diversity."

The Robinson Allegations

NAS is making inquiries into the serious allegations against OSU faculty members made by Art Robinson in a statement yesterday on World Net Daily.

Academe's House Divided

Daniel B. Klein

Daniel B. Klein reviews The Still Divided Academy, the final work of NAS and AQ editorial advisory board member Stanley Rothman, which was completed after his death by April Kelly-Woessner and Matthew Woessner. This review appears in the fall 2011 issue of Academic Questions, volume 24, number 3.

That Man May Revel in His Freedom of Speech

Glenn Ricketts

Is the use of inclusive use of the masculine singular pronoun grounds for accusations of sexual harassment? It was at CSU-Chico till FIRE ridiculed them with "Speech Code of the Year."

CSU Chico Introduces Sustainability Gen Ed Track, Green Courses Include "African History"

Ashley Thorne

The university has designated over 200 courses as "green courses" and its general education program will now include a “sustainability studies" track. These two curricular developments tell us something about the expansionist strategy of the campus sustainability movement.

The History of Bowdoin College from 1871 to 1952

Michael Toscano

NAS has published its fourth entry, "Bowdoin's History from 1871 to 1952," in its series of contextualizing observations for the Bowdoin Project.

Beach Books Roundup

Tessa Carter

Join the conversation around NAS's August report Beach Books 2012-2013.

The White House War on Men

Peter Wood

Rule of thumb: If a woman alleges sexual harassment, she is telling the truth. 

Fueling Lawsuits

Rachelle Peterson

Harvard students sue to divest from fossil fuels.

'Dignity,' Another Legal Trojan Horse

Peter Wood

People are putting words in the mouth of the Constitution.

Give the Poor Students a Chance, Not a Preference

Ashley Thorne

NAS Executive Director Ashley Thorne analyzes the problems with giving college admissions preferences to low-income students.

UConn Coddling Students

Jay Bergman

NAS board member, Jay Bergman, writes to the President of the University of Connecticut. 

Virginia Tech Tries to Enforce Ideology in Strategic Diversity Plan

Peter Wood

Back in March, I received a leaked copy of a plan for one of the colleges at Virginia Tech.  It was a new set of guidelines for faculty promotion and tenure that would require every candidate to compile an annual record of “demonstrated” diversity accomplishments.  Other Virginia Tech documents spelled out in detail what would pass muster as a diversity accomplishment.  The new rules were intended to apply to the classroom, research, publication, faculty involvement with student activities, and everything else that faculty members might do. I raised a fuss through the National  Association of Scholars website, and other organizations, including FIRE and ACTA joined in.  Eventually, the Virginia Tech board and the president backed down.  But after the furor subsided the president and other officials made clear that their commitment to a comprehensive diversity regime at this state university was unchanged. Now comes a new document, a “Strategic Diversity Plan,” for Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.  I got this one by internal leak as well, but it has subsequently been posted publicly. Should anyone much care what is happening at this large and pretty ordinary university in southern Virginia?  I suppose the taxpayers of Virginia should have some interest.  But the matter does seem to deserve a some broader attention if for one reason:  it is about as well-documented a case as we are ever likely to see of a university in the grip of a race preference ideology attempting to enforce that ideology over everyone and everything in its reach.  Nothing is too large (creation of whole new departments), or too small (flyers to be inserted in packets for job applicants) to escape the diversiphiles at Virginia Tech—and they propose to fund their whole enterprise not with line items in the budget, but with a fixed percentage of the whole budget! Ashley Thorne and I have pored over the “Strategic Diversity Plan” and “fisked” it, i.e. added a critical commentary inside the original text: Last week we summarized the developments leading up to this new plan: It’s hard to say whether this sort of effort on our part has any practical benefit.  Virginia Tech and a great many other colleges and universities are scudding along with their racial preference regimes (and other forms of diversity that likewise debase the academic mission) without serious public opposition.  But I do like the idea that we have paid attention and not just let this stuff settle in as though it made good sense and wise policy.

Campuses''Chokepoint Charlies'

Candace de Russy

Tom Blumer observes that our leftist universities and their ilk possess and abuse their power to destroy careers and control people's lives. The communists, he says, constructed checkpoints, whereas our leftist leaders use "chokepoints":

Those who occupy positions in university systems, government bureaucracies, as well as certain union and professional organizations, often with the active assistance of the courts, serve as the system’s “Chokepoint Charlies.” You can’t get through or move on unless you jump through their hoops, comply with their demands, or behave according to their established norms.

Here is Blumer's take on campus chokepoints:

In university systems, the most obvious chokepoint is tenure. If you achieve it, you have a position for life; if you don’t, your career is essentially over. Not surprisingly, leftist-dominated universities have used denial of tenure as a principal means of culling promising conservative professors, or even usually reliable liberals who utter occasional center-right thoughts, from their faculties’ ranks. Other university chokepoints are in the classroom. For the most part, it’s still true that if you’re bright enough, apply yourself, keep your head down, and avoid making too many waves, you’ll get through. But if you happen to incur the wrath of an intolerant radical prof by expressing a dissenting view, no matter how well-supported, you may find yourself with a failing grade, a lengthy redress or appeals process with less than assured results, and perhaps the inability, at least at that university, to go on to the next step in your desired major. Perhaps the most dangerous chokepoint at universities is in research. If your line of inquiry leads to conclusions that are contrary to established beliefs — say, just for the heck of it, if you find evidence that the earth really hasn’t been warming, or even if it is warming that it’s not significantly influenced by human activity — there’s more than a slight chance that your “peer reviewers” won’t be impressed and that your next funding request may not be granted. Just like that, you’re on the outside looking in.

NPR vs. Northwestern University

Ashley Thorne

At the Chronicle, Naomi Schaefer Riley has a perceptive post contrasting National Public Radio with Northwestern University. Both recently went through public embarrassments, but at NPR, people were fired. At the university, the professor was tenured. 

A Response to the AAUP's Report, "Freedom in the Classroom"

The American Association of University Professors released its Report on 11 September 2007. In that document, the AAUP provides cover for teachers who introduce extraneous, often politically tendentious material into their classes. To rationalize such behavior, the AAUP argues that truth is whatever the members of an academic discipline say it is. In our response, the NAS executive director and president take issue with that and other AAUP contentions.

"Ask God What Your Grade Is"

Ashley Thorne

A professor at LA City College shouts down and attempts to expel a student for supporting Proposition 8.

"Collective Certainty" at Work

Peter Wood

Macalester College president Brian Rosenberg models the new face of political correctness.

Sustainability at Universities a "Feel-Good" Term...No Comment

Ashley Thorne

Sustainability can be "a plastic phrase that all adhere to with varying invested meanings."

Widener Committee Advises: Withdraw Charges Against Law Prof Who Used Hypotheticals to Teach

Ashley Thorne

The committee of inquiry at Widener University recommends that charges of racism and sexism against Professor Lawrence Connell be dropped.

Collegiate Press Roundup

Glenn Ricketts

Student news analysts size up ways to stimulate the economy, why college presidents should stop harassing Greek life, the future of green jobs and the unexpected limits of instant web searches.

Richard DeMillo’s Blog

George Leef

Mr. Leef highlights a blog of the author of Abelard to Apple.

Here's Some of that Famous Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

George Leef

Taxpayers lose $1 billion or more a year to fraudulent use of Pell grants.

Reporters Explain Why Balance Isn't Needed on Global Warming

Rachelle Peterson

Elite journalists gathered at Columbia University say they have no need to listen to or even acknowledge skeptics of anthropogenic global warming.

Harvard Crimson Quotes Peter Wood on Political Imbalance

Ashley Thorne

A new study shows that in half of Harvard's colleges, all faculty political donations are to Democrats, and none are to Republicans.

NAS Endorses Safe Campus Act


NAS supports an amendment to the Higher Education Act of 1965. 

Lawsuit Claims "End Common Core" Referendum Is Illegal


Grassroots efforts in Massachusetts to let voters repeal the Common Core are under attack from a lawsuit. 

The New Campus Anti-Americanism


NAS President Peter Wood writes at Minding the Campus about what he calls Renascent Anti-Americanism, and shares reasons why Americans should have hope that this new form of anti-Americanism will not persist.

FIRE Reports: U Minnesota Promises Not to Mandate Beliefs

Ashley Thorne

The Foundation for Individual Rights has announced that the University of Minnesota, in response to a letter from FIRE, promised that "[n]o University policy or practice ever will mandate any particular beliefs, or screen out people with 'wrong beliefs' from the University." The FIRE letter was prompted by a proposal for the university's school of education, to be voted on in January, that would require all ed students to study “white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.” NAS wrote about it here. FIRE is cautiously optimistic about the university's response. While warning that "The next version of the college's plans must reflect this promise," it has declared a victory for freedom of conscience. The letter from General Counsel Mark B. Rotenberg, however, gives cause for continuing concern. Rotenberg asserts that the university holds the right, under academic freedom, to "engage in creative thinking, dialogue, and advocacy with respect to a broad range of ideas for improving P-12 education." He added, "Academic freedom means little if our teaching faculty is inhibited from discussing and proposing curriculum innovations simply because others find them 'illiberal' or 'unjust.'" Rotenberg is right to praise the exchange of different and competing viewpoints. But U Minnesota needs to be more thoughtful about its proposals. Even illiberal brainstorming can take root when it results in public documents ready for approval. Take Virginia Tech, for example. Its  College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences recently came out with a "Strategic Diversity Plan" that aimed to put in systems for logrolling; provide incentives (some monetary) for faculty and staff to take part in diversity activities and for departments to make faculty hires; implement College-wide diversity course requirements; and enact racial preferences in spite of a Virginia Tech ban on affirmative action. It is not clear what bureaucratic hurtles remain for the Diversity Plan's approval or when it is likely to be granted (although the general CLAHS Strategic Plan has already endorsed the Diversity Plan), but it is clear that such a plan, if approved, will leave Virginia Tech's intellectual integrity in ruins. So no, proposing illiberal or unjust "curriculum innovations" is not as benign as Rotenberg would like it to sound. But for now, we join with FIRE in encouragement over the University of Minnesota's promises not to mandate particular points of view.

Striving for Socio-Economic Diversity

George Leef

In this Chronicle post, Richard Kahlenberg responds to some criticism (which he labels as "right" and "left") of his signature issue, namely promoting socio-economic diversity as another criterion in college admissions. I don't think his responses are convincing. Moreover, he overlooks two assumptions his case rests on. I know that at least the latter of the two has been attacked because I have done so. First, Kahlenberg leaps to the conclusion that just because a student comes from a relatively poor family and succeeds in school well enough to qualify for college admission, that student is a "striver" who has "overcome obstacles." I don't think that follows. Being relatively poor in the U.S. does not mean deprivation of anything essential. And with the lowering of academic standards, graduating from high school with "good" grades is pretty easy these days. Some kids from poorer homes no doubt have had to deal with serious problems and disruptions around them, but we shouldn't assume that low-income status implies that. Besides, there are non-poor students who have managed to deal with difficulties. Second, what is the reason for thinking that it's a "reward" to go to an elite college or university? If, for example, a student from a relatively poor family in eastern North Carolina could get into East Carolina on his merits, is it much better for him to instead go to Duke? The assumption seems to be that schools with higher US News rankings are "better" schools, but what justifies that assumption? Courses are not necessarily taught better at Duke; they may be taught less well. Will the student have a brighter, more lucrative career with a Duke pedigree than ECU? Possibly, but it's by no means certain. The reverse is possible, especially if the student is near the bottom of the more intellectually competitive student body at Duke. Finally, the more prestigious degree might help the student land his first job, but in the long run people are rewarded on their productivity, not their credentials. I'm with Roger Clegg (see his comment) in thinking that the less colleges give preferences to applicants because of characteristics such as family ancestry and circumstances and the more they evaluate them on academic interest and aptitude, the better.

Imaginary Moderates: An Academic Report Boomerangs

Steve Balch

"The Social and Political Views of American Professors," a working paper released recently at a Harvard symposium by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons, is being vigorously spun by its authors as a new, sophisticated take on the intellectual alignments of American academe, undercutting exaggerated claims by conservatives of liberal/left hegemony. But if defenders of the academic status-quo expect Gross and Simmons's discoveries to rescue them, they're in for a crushing disappointment.

Globalizing Higher Education in the Liberal Arts

Tom Wood

Liberal arts education has been under attack recently in the U.S. as meaningless and irrelevant, but it is gaining a foothold in other countries.

(Wild) Western Civilization

Peter Wood

Wild West killer-for-hire "Deacon" Jim Miller dressed the part of a church-going citizen. Why does UNC Chapel Hill lecture series on "Renewing the Western Tradition" come to mind?

Peter Wood Speaks on Campus Sustainability and Political Correctness

Ashley Thorne

Radio: NAS's president discussed the origins of the sustainability movement; its environmental, social, and economic aspects; and its influence on higher education today.

The Coarsening

Peter Wood

Peter Wood comments on the combination of low taste and high privilege that are increasingly characteristic of American faculty members.

Citizens of the World

Peter Wood

Global citizenship isn’t burdened with taxes, military service, jury duty, and the like. And it sounds so cosmopolitan. But what, asks Peter Wood, does it really entail?

Ed Schools Are a Big Part of the Problem

George Leef

American primary and secondary education is feeble, largely because uneffective Ed schools must certify teachers no matter what they know about the  subject matter they teach. Also, those schools cover precious little beyond "social justice."

Fishy Courses: The Fake Red Snappers of Academe

Peter Wood

A lot of subjects in college catalogs have a fishy odor.

Education by Metaphor

Tessa Carter

Professor Robert Frost on poetry and education.

How Massachusetts Promoted Achievement Before Common Core & PARCC

Sandra Stotsky

Sandra Stotsky comments on Massachusetts K-12 standardized testing reports. 

The Quiet Transformation: The Online Revolution is Building Hybrid State Universities

Jonathan Bean

Historian Jonathan Bean describes the impact of online education at his university.

NYC Launch Tomorrow for Charting Academic Freedom


Join NAS on Thursday, February 1 for the release of our newest report, Charting Academic Freedom: 103 Years of Debate

Making Higher Education Accountable

David Randall

How do we get from "Admissions Officer" to "Pell Grant Harvester"? David Randall gives us the story and how to reform colleges in this speech from Grove City College.

A SUNY Prof Anathematizes Sellout of Standards

Candace de Russy

In a bid to to raise tuition revenues, the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill lowered admissions and retention standards to admit unqualified applicants who had little hope of graduating, according to a lawsuit filed by a former dean. (Disclosure: I served as a SUNY Trustee for 12 years.)
According to Inside Higher Ed, Thomas J. Hickey, who filed the suit, claims he was fired as dean in retaliation for querying financially-motivated academic policies instituted by top administrators -- policies which condemned students to failure at the campus.
In an extraordinary communication cited in the suit, Thomas Cronin, a physics professor,  ringingly denounced the practices:
“The list of academically and morally corrupt practices that ensue from our inability to adhere to our own standards is rather long. One of our worst offenses is that we admit, and re-admit students absolutely unqualified and absolutely incapable of achieving a college degree. Many go into debt or cause their families to go into debt into [sic] order to attempt a college degree. This is an absolutely corrupt practice and it may be criminal. If we have done this to even one student, then we are guilty of a low form of corruption."
That some campuses may engage in such practices would come as no surprise to seasoned observers of higher education. But what is remarkable, even shocking -- and encouraging in this age of general cowardice on the part of so much of the education status quo -- is the rare willingness of a professor and former administrator so boldly and publicly to take up the cause of restoring high academic standards.

Let's Give Diversity the Gate

Glenn Ricketts

I could be wrong, but in the wake of all the mudwrestling that's followed the NAACP's recent branding of Tea Partiers as racists, I think that the ideological fulcrum of the "diversity" debate has significantly shifted ground. For once, the response by public figures has been direct and emphatic, instead of the usual backpedaling after some vague, apologetic mumbling about the need to "include" all groups, the value of a diverse work force or the wish to avoid offending anyone, etc., etc., etc. The public rejection of the NAACP's allegations, moreover, has been bi-partisan, including prominent Republicans such as Sarah Palin and no less than Vice President Biden and President Obama on the Democratic side of the aisle. Hopefully, this means that absurd or silly allegations of racism will no longer compel politicans and bureaucrats to jump through the hoop as they've done so frequently in the past. Especially encouraging, though, is this piece by Virgina Democrat James Webb in today's Wall Street Journal. Webb argues that although "diversity" policies had their origins in the laudable and necessary efforts to redress the unique injustices suffered by black Americans, they have long since become obsessed with skin color or ethnic background, often with unconcealed hostility toward whites. Thus, newly arrived immigrants often benefit from these policies, even though their own experiences don't remotely resemble those of blacks. It doesn't stop there either, since in many academic institutions, "diversity" and "inclusiveness" now extend to ever -expanding categories of sexuality, life experiences or those with physical disabilities. A particularly hard sell for me has always been affirmative action for "women" within the diversity rubric, as though the largely white, middle-class feminist movement could claim grievances comparable to those suffered historically by blacks. Yet many academic job postings routinely specify that "women and ethnic or racial minorities are especially encouraged to apply." That doesn't compute. Anyway, Webb says it's now time to end racial preferences, stop discriminating against whites, and simply treat everyone equally under the law. Amen.

U.S. Commission: "Little Evidence" Diversity Improves Student Performance

The United States Commission on Civil Rights has just issued a major report, The Benefits of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in Elementary and Secondary Education. (Available in PDF here.) The Commission reached a startling conclusion: "there is little evidence that racial and ethnic diversity in elementary and secondary schools results in significant improvement in academic performance."

A New Way to Keep Up With NAS: RSS Feed

Ashley Thorne

Stay fed - subscribe to our articles!

Encyclopedia of Sustainability

Ashley Thorne

NAS presents an encyclopedia of the key names, terms, and organizations in the sector of sustainability activism aimed specifically at re-centering elementary and higher education around sustainability practice.

Collegiate Press Roundup, 7-15-10

Glenn Ricketts

In this week's Roundup, student writers take the measure of oil dependence, November Congressional elections, sleeping in class and NASA's role in international diplomacy.

The Education Dimaryp

Will Fitzhugh

A visual commentary on the priorities in American public schools.

Colleges' Lost Love of Film

David Clemens

Colleges and universities shortchange students by "academicizing" film rather than appreciating the way it illuminates our humanness.

Admissions Preferences

George Leef

California has a concrete diversity ceiling that discriminates against high performing students of Asian origin.

A Culture of Evasion

Peter Wood

Campus sexual-harassment codes grow ever more draconian even as what passes for acceptable behavior behind the scenes grows worse and worse.

Social Justice and the Economy

William H. Young

William Young explores the probable economic impact of redistributionist social justice policies.

Law Professor Argues for More Grade Inflation

George Leef

The "kindler and gentler" approach to grading may not be the best approach, counters George Leef.

Faculty Tenure: Improve It, Don't Remove It

W. Lee Hansen

W. Lee Hansen argues that revisions to faculty tenure must be objective and preserve academic freedom. 

The Architecture of Intellectual Freedom

Peter Wood

A statement on the place and importance of intellectual freedom.

National Association of Scholars Releases New Resource for Academic Freedom


RELEASE: Today marks the release of a first-of-its-kind reference for academic freedom, and an important resource for those standing against the threat of intellectal conformity in American higher education.

NAS Applauds the Univ. of North Florida’s Decision to Close Confucius Institute


Following questions from Senator Marco Rubio, the University of North Florida becomes the ninth US university to close a Confucius Institute.

WSJ Review of Jackson Toby's Book

George Leef

The Wall Street Journal ran a review of Professor Jackson Toby's book The Lowering of Higher Education in its December 23 edition. The reviewer, Ben Wildavsky, unfortunately buys into the standard line that college studies are highly beneficial and the country needs to encourage more students to enroll and graduate. Wildavsky asserts that keeping ill-prepared students out of college is "one trade-off we should not make" because "the indisputable benefits of college should be spread more widely, not less." Nonsense. The supposed benefits of attending and (maybe, eventually) graduating from college are highly questionable. Toby shows that many students enter college with feeble intellectual background and learning tools, then coast through without learning much of lasting benefit. (As I argued here, it's doubtful that students have any human capital gain from their college experience.) Moreover, there isn't necessarily any financial benefit from going to college, even graduating. Unfortunately, Toby didn't mention the mountain of evidence that college graduates often end up working in "high school jobs" that don't pay very well no matter what your educational credentials. (That's a point I have been making for years, for example, here.) Perhaps if he had, Wildavsky's belief that going to college confers indisputable benefits would have been shaken. In any case, it's hard to see how you could read Toby's book, which makes a strong case that many students graduate from college with an education in name only, and yet maintain that it's so beneficial that we must not cut back.

Keep John Galt Off Campus

George Leef

In today's Pope Center piece, my colleague Jay Schalin writes about the flap over the fact that some colleges have accepted funds from BB&T Foundation with the proviso that the money be used to support courses in which students will learn about Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism and in particular her defense of laissez-faire capitalism. The argument raised against this is that colleges are supposed to allow the faculty to decide upon curricular matters. Naturally, some professors who are adamantly hostile to the case for laissez-faire (although I doubt that many have ever read Rand's Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal or have heard a thorough explication of the damaging consequences of government interference in the spontaneous order of the free market) say that schools should shun BB&T money. Jay gets a whiff of double standard here, since professors on the left don't much complain about the importation of material into the curriculum they find congenial. Rather than a defense of princple, their stance seems to be an instance of selective indignation. Econ 101 is often taught as a dull, mechanistic and to many students baffling exercise in graphs and abstruse theories having little apparent relationship with life. Adding a BB&T catalyzed course that allows students to see how Rand and other advocates of laissez-faire (Ludwig von Mises, e.g.) looked at economic questions would be a beneficial offering. Colleges should be open to the marketplace of ideas. Like the marketplace of goods and services, sound ideas tend to win out and unsound ideas tend to be rejected. (I say "tend" because it doesn't happen automatically. After all, we still have cigarettes in stores and professors who preach socialism.) John Allison of BB&T is trying to get colleges to open their curricula to another idea (or set of ideas). No harm in that.

Conflict at Brooklyn College: Horowitz Talk on Video

Mitchell Langbert

Video of David Horowitz's presentation at Brooklyn College is here. Horowitz writes an extensive article about his talk at Brooklyn College on Frontpagemag, which appeared Friday. I attempted to serve as a moderator but was only moderately successful. The Brooklyn College Palestinian club's protests were aggressive. 

Startling Revelations: The National Association of Scholars Salutes Its Delaware Affiliate for Its R

Our Delaware affiliate exposes the University of Delaware's residence life program, known on campus as "the treatment."

Bias Isn't Bias If It's Ours

Peter Wood

For instance, according to Barbara Applebaum, it's appropriate to teach for social justice "under conditions of systemic injustice."

Politicizing the NEH

Peter Wood

The new chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities wants to correct Americans' "disrespectful" attitude towards Muslim culture. He is also annoyed at culture warriors and excitable people at town halls. NEH seems next on the list of government agencies to be politicized.

More Millennials Need to Work at McDonalds

Jason Fertig

Advice to recent college graduates: get a job, anywhere.

Video: Academic Questions Author Zuhdi Jasser Discusses Radical Islam Hearings

Zuhdi Jasser, who wrote "Islamic Schools and American Civic Culture" for the spring 2011 issue of Academic Questions, testified at the Peter King hearings in Congress.

Video: Is Higher Education Worth the Money?

Andy Nash

CollegeNET president Jim Wolfston discusses the question with Andy Nash.

NAS Blog Stats in 2011

Ashley Thorne

The NAS blog is ever more popular as gauged by visitor hits.

The Regnerus Affair at UT Austin

Peter Wood

A scholar whose research identified disadvantages for children of same-sex marriage faces opposition by those who dislike his findings.

Emory University's Outcry Against Its President

George W. Dent

Emory University President John Wagner has been vilified by faculty and students for praising the three-fifths compromise in the original Constitution.

U Arizona Center for American Culture and Ideas to Hold First Arts and Culture Conference


The Center for American Culture and Ideas at the University of Arizona will offer its first conference, on “The Future of (High) Culture in America,” in March 2014. 

Patriotism Is Not Just for Conservatives

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne responds to a New Yorker article on civics education. 

Announcement: Georgia Association of Scholars Event


The Georgia Association of Scholars is hosting an event with Mary Grabar, Ph.D., on November 17th. 

Texas Association of Scholars Supports the PROSPER Act


The Texas affiliate of NAS writes to Congress in support of the PROSPER Act.

Marxists in Schools of Education Respond to NAS Article

Ashley Thorne

Crosspost from Two weeks ago I published an article about a Marxist journal that has seized authority in the education world. The Journal for Critical Education Policy Studies (JCEPS) is published by the UK-based Institute for Education Policy Studies (IEPS), “an independent Radical Left/Socialist/Marxist institute for developing policy analysis and development of education policy.” It takes its cues from Che Guevara and Paulo Freire. Articles from JCEPS are required reading in some ed schools, and the editorial advisory board has representatives from universities in eighteen countries. In posting the NAS article on JCEPS, I thought that simply calling the journal what it is would be enough to discredit it. I wrote:

While it is appropriate to study the now discredited but historically important ideas of Marxism in political science, philosophy, and economics courses, education schools have no need for radical ideology. Ed schools should be preparing teachers to train the minds of the next generation, not to arm them with socialist politics. To do so cheats both future teachers and their future students out of the sound, unbiased education they deserve.

I assumed that most people would agree that Marxist politics have no place in the classroom, and that the JCEPS folks would be reluctant to own their radical left agenda. I was wrong. Since the article appeared on the NAS website, apologists for the journal have been coming out of the woodwork. We seem to have secured the attention of some of the last remaining Marxists on earth. One commenter, who seems not to be a native speaker of English, wrote:

Definitely, education should be explicitly involved in struggles for equity and justice, especially at the current situation. Therefore, it’s very meaningful to arouse teachers and students’ critical consciousness, as Professor Peter McLaren does. School and society shouldn’t be separated. No matter it is in John Dewey’s mind “school is society”, or in other scholar’s essay “society is school”, schools have close relationship with society. George Counts once insisted that it was a great ideal that people should mainly focus on educating the children and care little about others, however, he thought that schools and teachers had to think about the injustice since the then unequal society greatly influenced teachers and students in 1930s. As for the current situation which is much worse than in 1930s in many aspects, the “ivory tower” ideal had gone and would never come back, colleges and universities are more and more involved in the society economically and politically, students have to fight for the equality, and teachers are forced to fight for their right they deserved. There are inequity and injustice in society, so it’s teachers’ responsibility to arouse their students consciousness to seek for the equity and justice. Those behind it are the ones who give up their responsibilities or the ones who own privilege, because they dare not to change the society or don’t want to give up their privilege. [emphasis mine]

Another person, ironically self-nicknamed “Cassiodorus” after the devout Christian who kept alive the flame of liberal learning after the fall of Rome, added:

Marxism isn't discredited anywhere, education isn't unbiased, and "radical" refers to the notion of examining the roots ("radical," from the Latin radix, or root) of everyday practice, something which should be done more often in schools.  The rest of this is a rather amateurish collection of soundbites on a number of subjects, the least understood of which is critical pedagogy. [emphasis mine]

This is a delightful bit of self-delusion.  Marxism isn’t discredited anywhere?  Marxism is discredited just about everywhere, but if “Cassiodorus” needs a for instance, I can testify firsthand that Marxism is discredited in Novokuznetsk and other parts of Russia where I have stayed.  From his nom de plume, I would think Cassiodorus is implicitly acknowledging this reality.  His “Rome” would appear to be the Soviet State and the nations it held captive.  He is keeping the holy flame of Marxism alive in an age dominated by the barbarian idea of human freedom. “Ferlaz” also chimed in:

In Argentina we are creating a new educational movement based on the critical pedagogies, especially the works of Paulo Freire, Peter McLaren. This article only serves to confirm that we are on the correct path of struggle. This educational movement is not intended to build ideological blocs but returning to education because their political neutrality is also a way of doing politics. This article ends endorsing own knowledge of the dominant classes, their ideologies and worldviews deny the possibility of conflict as natural and accepting the hegemonic discourse. From Argentina, from the popular schools for youth and adults in factories recovered by their workers shouted: Che lives!, As in Peter McLaren's page.

The grammar here is too shaky to figure out exactly what is making “ferlaz” so excited.  Che, the murderous thug of the Cuban revolution, is fortunately long dead.  He enjoys only the kind of immortality conferred by T-shirts and dorm-room posters. It does seem to me of absorbing interest that the great folly of Marxism—having burned through the twentieth century as a fire that killed more than 90 million people, enslaved countless others, and brought more misery and oppression into the world than any other political doctrine in human history—still has its proud defenders.  And they are in schools of education.

Islands of Words

David Clemens

Back when Bravo provided high culture, I was entranced by a South Bank Show episode on a Caribbean poet named Derek Walcott.  When I saw Walcott would read at Stanford, I raced to hear him in person, only to be appalled by the meager audience which clapped and immediately dispersed.  Alone with him, I nervously asked how his book Omeros was coming.  Surprised someone knew of it, he said there were publication delays but it would be out soon.  Shortly after, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. A few years later, friends and fortune combined to bring Derek for a reading.  That afternoon, he said he had always wanted to see a redwood tree, so we hopped into my Ford Focus and headed for Palo Colorado Canyon, but stopped just south of Carmel so he could survey the light, the surf, and the hills along the coast.  Walcott also paints, and looking through his framing hands, he slowly rotated and said, “Everywhere you look is a painting.” Derek’s sold-out reading was magical, including Tiepolo’s Hound, “A Letter from Brooklyn” and his Odyssey section on the Cyclops, a metaphor for all totalitarian dictators who have no depth of vision. Next day, Derek became impatient as his companion Sigrid embraced everyone, kissing, hugging, saying goodbye.  He turned to me and said, “Let’s show them how men say goodbye.”  He looked me straight in the eye, firmly squeezed my hand, and said, “Goodbye.” I felt like a child in his presence, this aging yet vital man, numinous, strong despite infirmities and occasional vertigo.  His masculinity was overwhelming. Now his latest, and perhaps last, book has arrived, White Egrets.  His lines move like waves and trade winds, elegiac, abundant with his island, the sea, sunlight, fields, lost friends, memory, art, and the enchantments of erotic women.  You can own this treasure here.

Schlesinger May Have Been a Good Historian, But...

George Leef

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal included a letter from a writer who thought that he could counter a recent op-ed by Charles Koch, arguing that the federal government does too much, costs too much, and menaces our future prosperity, with a 1995 comment by the late historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. Schlesinger, venting after the Democrats lost control of Congress, saw big government as a line of defense for the common people against rapacious "corporate interests." He did not see that those corporate interests only have power due to their alliances with politicians. Here is the letter I just sent to the WSJ in response:

Writer George Kovac evidently believes that the late historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. penned a brilliant “critique” of the government-downsizing movement (letters, March 14). Writing after the Democrats lost control of Congress in the 1994 elections, Schlesinger opined that it was an “assault on the national government” that would merely transfer power to “the great corporate interests.”

It is inane to offer Schlesinger’s 1995 comment as a rejoinder to the arguments made by Charles Koch in his March 1 op-ed.

First, the serious case for downsizing the federal government is no more an “attack” on the government than were liberal arguments against governmental policies made by people like Schlesinger back in the 50s and 60s when they argued that the government should stop waging unnecessary wars, stop enforcing racial segregation, stop trying to stifle dissent and so on. To maintain as Mr. Koch does, that the federal government is doing things it should not do and thereby imposing undue burdens on our prosperity while undermining our freedom, is a rational criticism. Brushing it off as “an attack on the government” is exactly the kind of rhetoric that liberals like Schlesinger used to decry when conservatives used it.

Second, Schlesinger poses a false dilemma in suggesting that we must choose between big government domination and domination by “great corporate interests.” Corporations cannot compel people to buy their products, to subsidize their losses, to support whatever agendas they may have. Politicians, on the other hand, can and do subject us to coercion with innumerable taxes, mandates and prohibitions. Often, they enter into alliances with businesses, unions, and other interests to give those interests favors and privileges they would not otherwise have. It is exactly that sort of crony capitalism that is the main target of Koch and others who wish to restore the government to its proper constitutional limits.

Schlesinger may have been a good historian, but his understanding of the effects of expansive government was badly flawed.

Little Delawares All Over :Diversity Indoctrination, K-12 Branch

Hans Bader, a lawyer with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, writes that the Delaware Indoctrination Syndrome has a k-12 counterpart. A common thread is the presence of what Elizabeth Lasch-Quinn in her 2001 book dubbed "race experts." In Delaware, it was Shakti Butler. As Mr. Bader points out, another expert, Glenn Singleton, is making a career of promoting similar themes in K-12 public schools. See Mr. Bader's postings at, e.g., November 16, 20, and 27, and December 3.

Canada Gets It Right

Ashley Thorne

Queen's College terminated its Intergroup Dialogue program when it was found to invite conversation-policing.

Peace Plus One

Ashley Thorne

Culture watch: the three-finger salute symbolizes the three pillars of sustainability - it's "peace plus one"!

American U of Iraq Becomes the Nation's First Accredited University

Jeff Martineau

The American University of Iraq - Sulaimani has been granted accreditation and recognition of its "dedication to forming students in liberal education."

Argus Update

Ashley Thorne

NAS members and volunteers help keep an eye on what's happening at colleges and universities across the country.

Missed Opportunities in College Common Reading: A Response to Brendan Boyle

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne replies to a professor of classics at UNC-Chapel Hill who wishes for more fiction in college summer reading assignments.

Obama's Higher-Ed Agenda

Peter Wood

Peter Wood surveys the Obama administration’s eight-part higher-education agenda.

Masculinity and Mental Health - No Comment

Glenn Ricketts

A new course at UMass/ Amherst seeks to redirect masculinity away from itself, because it's unhealthy.

The History of Bowdoin College from 1952 to 1978

Michael Toscano

NAS has published its fifth entry, "Bowdoin's History from 1952 to 1978," in its series of contextualizing observations for the Bowdoin Project.

Common Core State Standards: Student Assessments

William H. Young

Willliam Young examines methods of assessing student achievement under CCSS.

Libertarians vs. Progressives: The New Campus Divide

Peter Wood

There is a dramatic divide on campus between students caught up in campus "hook-up culture" and feminist crusaders against "rape culture."

Save the Date: NAS Conference, January 11 and 12


NAS is hosting a conference themed, “Disgrace: Shame, Punishment, and Redemption in American Higher Education,” at Chapman University in California.

Muppet Yoda or ‘Toon Yoda?

David Clemens

For 30 years, I have used Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in conjunction with Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to illustrate allusion, ambiguity, irony, anxiety of influence, medium imperatives, and narrative architectonics.  Oddly, the last few times I showed the film, many students were left speechless by the intensity of the experience.  I was puzzled at first but then realized that their distress might stem from something that Apocalypse Now lacks:  CGI. Today’s students are accustomed to computer-generated images and special effects, but CGI and full-motion capture/performance produce weightless pictorials with no substance.  Avatar and 300 are forgettable eye candy, impalpable as a mirage.  But in Apocalypse Now, when the script called for Col. Kilgore to order an airstrike and blow up a jungle with napalm, director Coppola blew up a jungle with napalm.  Coppola also blew up a physical Do Long Bridge and expended many hundredweight of black powder, phosphorous, and fuse on a physical village of Vin Drin Dop.  When a carabao is slaughtered, a real, luckless carabao was slaughtered. This gravity of actuality is shocking to today’s students for whom simulation, simulacra, and virtuality are the “natural” landscape.  Film critic John Podhoretz decries CGI because

the extreme artificiality of the form creates distance between the viewer and the work. The secret about the movies is the way they trick you into believing you are seeing something realistic when you are actually watching something entirely artificial. The key is the recognizable human face and the interaction of the human body with recognizable real-world objects.  Remove those from the picture and you are in the entirely stylized realm of kabuki theater.

Cyberpunk legend William Gibson contends that soon most people will live in a “blended-reality state.”  The “entirely stylized” apparitions of CGI convince me that my students already live there with profound emotional and educational consequences.