The Issue at a Glance

Two Victories for Academic Freedom (10.1007/s12129-019-09792-7)

Peter Bonilla, Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Peter Bonilla tells the heartening story of two recent court cases that resulted in legal victories for the protection of free speech rights of faculty on college campuses. In one case a federal court addressing a public university and in another a state's highest court addressing a private university upheld free speech protections for faculty members sanctioned for expressing views their administrations disliked.

The Confucius Institutes (10.1007/s12129-019-09783-8)

Rachelle Peterson, National Association of Scholars

Confucius Institutes—which present themselves as exemplars of cultural exchange with the U.S., but in reality allow China to monitor American professors, pressure universities, and seek out opportunities for academic espionage—have had a large role in Chinese attempts to influence U.S. institutions. As Rachelle Peterson reports, the National Association of Scholars has had a similarly large role in shutting them down.

Saving Remnants: Where Western Civ Thrives (10.1007/s12129-019-09795-4)

Glenn M. Ricketts, National Association of Scholars

The Great Books of the Western Canon were once ubiquitous in American undergraduate education, the crucial entry way to humanity’s “Great Conversation” of ideas. That ended in the ladder part of the twentieth century, under pressure from labor market interests and multiculturalists, who saw the intellectual output of other civilizations as more enlightening. But “Western Civ” survives. Glenn Ricketts provides a survey of existing programs where Western civilization is still part of the core curriculum.

Due Process, DeVos, and the Courts (10.1007/s12129-019-09788-3)

KC Johnson, Brooklyn College

U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has made restoring campus due process and the presumption of innocence in sexual harassment cases a top priority. To do this, DeVos has rescinded Obama administration regulatory guidance on Title IX that fostered a system tilted against the accused. DeVos has also proposed regulations that use language closely tied to that of the federal courts. In the meantime, a wave of lawsuits against colleges and universities by accused students has revealed a desire on the part of the courts to correct a badly flawed system.

Harvard Hoist on Its Own Petard? (10.1007/s12129-019-09779-4)

John S. Rosenberg,

With the antidiscrimination suit brought against it by Students for Fair Admissions, Harvard University finds itself front and center in the affirmative action battle zone. It’s deserved. From the Bakke case that started it all to the current lawsuit, Harvard has played a conspicuous role in denuding the merit-based system.

Politicized Science (10.1007/s12129-019-09781-w)

David Randall, National Association of Scholars

From mandating social justice bona fides for faculty candidates to enforcing climate alarmist groupthink in “gold standard” journals, the diversity creed is threatening science pedagogy and scientific advance. David Randall describes the current state of affairs, and ponders the possibility that we are losing the last redoubt of objectivity on our campuses.

Diversity Discontent (10.1007/s12129-019-09790-9)

Charles Geshekter, California State University, Chico.

Colleges and universities are enforcing ever more stringently an impoverished view of diversity that says members of genetically ascribed groups share a rigid set of thoughts, attitudes, and experiences. Historian Charles Geshekter explains that in the wake of Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell’s 1978 deification of “educational pluralism,” it couldn’t have been otherwise.

Queer Criminology: New Directions in Academic Irrelevance (10.1007/s12129-019-09784-7)

Mike Adams, University of North Carolina, Wilmington.

A review of a leading text in the growing subfield of “queer criminology” finds that it fails to substantiate the need for the field’s existence. Whether the task is defining what “queer” is, calculating the number of queer people involved with the U.S. criminal justice system, or identifying the particular problems the system presents for queer people, the authors eschew the most basic evidentiary criteria necessary for social science research. Criminologist Mike Adams warns that requiring students to spend time studying such an indistinct field may be hurting their job prospects, and turning a scholarly discipline over to advocacy.

Object of Inquiry: Psychology’s Other (Non-replication) Problem (10.1007/s12129-019-09778-5)

John Staddon, Duke University

Psychological science, currently embroiled in a “replication crisis,” has a more difficult problem concerning the use of statistics. Psychologist John Staddon points out that deducing the causes of individual behavior from group studies, particularly when there is variability within groups, is a fatal error of psychological research today. For Staddon, “Only when psychology can point to individual certainties will it have attained the status of a science.”

Academic Freedom and the Central European University (10.1007/s12129-019-09793-6)

Stephen Baskerville, Patrick Henry College.

The George Soros-founded Central European University is closing its doors in Budapest. Apparently, there are democratically elected leaders in the world that don’t see the efficacy of spending tax dollars on grievance study activism and social justice palaver.

On Ethnic Cleansing and Revisionist Russian History (10.1007/s12129-019-09791-8)

Jon K. Chang, author, Burnt by the Sun: The Koreans of the Russian Far East (University of Hawaii Press, 2016).

Jon K. Chang reminds us that important parts of the American academy remained highly sympathetic toward the Soviet Union, long after Stalin's deadly reign became widely known. So intent were the leading scholars of Soviet studies on painting a benign picture of the Soviets, many took pains to sugarcoat Stalin's brutal removal of Soviet ethnic minorities.

The Liberal Arts as Magic and as Paradox (10.1007/s12129-019-09794-5)

John Agresto, Pres. (ret.), St. John’s College.

John Agresto tells us that today’s liberal arts critics are wrong to discard the past, to teach that the best that has been said or written can only burden us with “old ideas and antique prejudices.” A more generous understanding of the liberal arts not only illuminates but can “carry us ahead not simply against the winds of public opinions and prejudices but against the stifling forces of academia itself.”

The Futility of Gun Control as Crime Control (10.1007/s12129-019-09787-4)

Barry Latzer, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY (Emeritus)

“There is an indisputable connection between the prevalence of firearms in the United States and killings,” writes Barry Latzer. But given the “historical popularity of firearms, explicit legal support (the Constitution’s Second Amendment), the effective lobbying of the National Rifle Association, and the efficacy of guns for self-defense,” confiscatory gun control laws are unlikely. Better we take targeted, incremental measures where there are policy gaps we know we can close.

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