2020 NAS Roundup

David Acevedo

CounterCurrent: Week of 1/3


2020’s unusual, unprecedented nature is a horse long since beaten dead, but its extreme change and stress will affect higher education’s future for years to come. The year was not kind to higher ed, bringing with it consequences that were mostly harmful and near catastrophic. The most obvious of these consequences is the COVID-catalyzed financial crisis currently faced by many colleges and universities, who are assuredly unsatisfied with the “measly” $20 billion dollars allotted to them by the latest COVID relief bill (they initially requested $120 billion).

However, we also witnessed a rapid escalation in the campus arms race to adopt edicts in support of cancel culture and of so-called “social justice” and “anti-racism,” and, consequently, we saw the continued degradation of any remaining semblance of a liberal arts education our schools have to offer. The National Association of Scholars has addressed these issues every step of the way and will continue to do so in the new year. Despite the rather bleak picture I have painted, however, we did enjoy quite a few successes in the last year and look forward to more in 2021.

Let's recap. What did we accomplish this last year?

Five Research Reports

In 2020, we were proud to have published five full-length research reports: The Lost History of Western Civilization by Stanley Kurtz, Critical Care, our policy proposals to breath new life into the nation's beleaguered colleges and universities after the pandemic, Corrupting the College Board by Senior Research Fellow Rachelle Peterson, Dear Colleague by Policy Director Teresa Manning, and Disfigured History by Research Director David Randall. These reports cover a vast swathe of issues threatening American higher education, including the aforementioned financial crisis, Chinese government influence in American K-12 education, and the largely unchecked administrative behemoth known as Title IX.

To read more, click here.

Three Active Investigations Launched

About halfway through last year, we realized that certain problems in higher education have far too many individual instances upon which to comment individually. However we still wanted to catalogue these issues in some way, both for our own records and to serve as a resource for researchers. This led to the creation of NAS’s Active Investigations page, where we maintain tracking articles for cases of cancel culture, China-related arrests, and “anti-racism” statements in higher education. These three join our Confucius Institute tracker and are all updated regularly to provide you with the most up-to-date information possible. 

To view our Active Investigations, click here.

17 Webinars, Conference Calls, and Lectures

Though we were unhappy to cancel most of our in-person conferences scheduled for 2020, we made do and took to the web, hosting a wide-ranging series of online events on topics such as the role of experts in a self-governing republic, progressive philanthropy in American higher ed, the rise of activist civics, and the New York Times’ 1619 Project. Given the current state of affairs with regards to the coronavirus, we expect to do much of the same in 2021. 

Click here to view replays of our 2020 online events and listen to the latest episodes of NAS’s podcast, Curriculum Vitae.

19 Confucius Institutes Closed

Since 2017, NAS has advocated for the regulation and closure of Chinese Communist Party-operated Confucius Institutes (CIs), “language and culture centers” on American campuses that really serve as propaganda and espionage nodes. We are pleased that colleges and universities continue to close their CIs, and by our count, 19 have done so in the 2020 alone, bringing the grand total of closed CIs up to 54. Over 60 still remain, though, and we continue to urge every institution hosting a Confucius Institute to close it immediately, for the sake of their students’ education and American national security.

98 Articles Published on Minding the Campus

In June, we were honored to acquire ownership of Minding the Campus (MTC), a popular forum for commentary on American higher education previously managed and edited by the great John Leo. We have since published nearly 100 articles and have seen interest in the site increase steadily. We look forward to further growing MTC in 2021 and working to preserve and expand the site’s collection of thousands of timely essays. 

Click here to read our latest articles.

If you stood with us through 2020, thank you. It is only through your support that we are able to do all that we do. If you are new to the NAS family, welcome! We hope you stick around for the exciting work that we have planned for 2021 and beyond. Together we will continue the fight to restore higher education to its proper place as the cradle of American learning and liberty.


CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications & Research Associate David Acevedo. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Ray Hennessy, Public Domain

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