Saturday, January 24, 2015

Brian Anse Patrick: All Things Left Considered: Progress Of A University Of Michigan Ph.D. And The “Gun Culture”

The recent Susan Douglas controversy at the University of Michigan has captured considerable attention from various publics. Professor Douglas, chair of the Department of Communication Studies, published what many (something like 4,000 online commentators) have interpreted as a hateful invective against Republicans and political conservatives.

Douglas was apparently unnerved by the volume and intensity of the digital outcry after she referred to millions of citizens, many of whom are UM donors and alums (and taxpayers), as hateful dogmatists and intolerant supporters of authoritarianism, so much so that she has allegedly requested police protection. The professor has perhaps spent too much time in unbalanced power relationships with students who must either put up or suffer the consequences of independent thought. A bigger problem here, obvious to just about everyone but many professors, is that professorial displeasure may be earned for ideological reasons entirely unrelated to academic standards.

It may not be an exaggeration to say that in some academic departments, especially in social sciences and the humanities, rigorous academic standards have transmuted over time into ideological sniff tests—is candidate X the right kind of person with the proper set of Left-leaning beliefs? Through processes involving group norms, incentives, rewards, hiring and cronyism, departments select for true believers. Especially at the graduate level where future professors are trained, conformity is in great demand. Orthodoxy becomes de facto a systemic result rather than the enabling of creative, self-directed individuals. All this not only carries over into the undergraduate classroom, but also taints the production of research and publications. Terms like “critical thinking” so often come to mean in practice ‘Think as I do.”

More Here

No comments: