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Saying Goodbye to our Elite Universities

The thinker Laren 1903.jpg

The Thinker, Singer Museum, Laren, The Netherlands

How did our universities become our enemy?

Mike Nayna is the Australian videographer who worked on the series of videos about the removal of Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying from Evergreen State College by radical leftists.

He also worked with the Grievance Studies folks, including Peter Boghossian, commenting here on a piece from September:

An utterly hypnotic read here from @mikenayna about the attempt to replace our "marketplace of ideas" with an "administered economy of ideas"

World III War

naynaaa.jpg

I imagine that you could call this an invitation to think. Lots of illustrations. It's kind of a geeky exploration of possibilities for the future as technology advances. If you would like to take an interesting journey of the mind, check it out.

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Back to the here and now, Nayna wrote The Canonical Succession of Higher Ed

How Harvard Abandoned the Liberal Arts

In recent months, the higher education battleground of the Culture War has been fierce. Two presidents of elite universities have fallen, not by literal bullets, but by sustained reputational assaults on their digital presence.

The media circus around these events has generated renewed interest in the Grievance Studies Affair, and crowds of curious newcomers are circulating through my hoax-related work. . .

In its most basic form, one could describe the work of the critical canon as denouncing the world to make room for a utopian alternative. For example, queer theorists will continually describe the word "queer" as a "horizon of possibility". They want to make room for the exploration of sexualities that are free from the judgmental gaze of social norms. They're not interested in positing alternatives but simply clearing the way for something else - a kind of wrecking ball for social "progress".

The critical canon: denouncing the world to make room for a utopian alternative.

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In a 2016 presentation, a brilliant social psychologist by the name of Jonathan Haidt, pointed out what he saw as a schism forming within the university system. He claimed that US colleges are caught between two irreconcilable missions - truth and change. . .

Haidt uses "truth" and "change" to describe the warring perspectives but considering I see them as manifestations of underlying bodies of scholarship, I'll describe the schism as the liberal arts tradition being succeeded by the critical canon.

The term "canon" refers to a collection of works considered to be of great importance and enduring value within a particular culture. At any point in time, the essence of a university is defined by its canon. That is, what it is researching and teaching.

While reading the scholars working in the critical tradition, I often find myself muttering the phrase "another underpants gnome," alluding to the characters from South Park. The underpants gnomes steal underpants from children as part of a grand plan to make a profit but when asked how they will turn the underpants into money they stare blankly before reiterating their grand plan."

Lately, I'm finding that Haidt's choice of the word "Change" characterizes the new ideology very well. The word is used as a goal in the programs developed by graduates of these universities to turn K-12 students into activists. Though "critical canon" clarifies what these universities are teaching young activists in order to motivate them to take action to produce "change" even if they don't know where the "change" will lead.

Check out the useful, basic, non-hysterical three-minute video review of the events leading up to the resignation of Claudine Gay at the link.

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From the responses to Nayna's announcement, Twitter thread:

Lots of new options- JPCatholic University, which opened in 2006 in San Diego County, is now the Catholic University for the Creative Arts. Its state-of-the-art "learning by doing" curriculum is built on the rich Catholic Intellectual Tradition, in a highly collaborative environment where all students have the opportunity to encounter Jesus, who is "the way, the truth and the life."

Not sure that's a response The Left intended.

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A new university emerges in Spain "firmly based in an appreciation for the philosophical and institutional foundations of a free society."

Bruce Gilley (Bio)

New universities are beginning to pop up around the world. They are long overdue. Expect more and more institutions to emerge as legacy universities collapse.

Peter Boghossian

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Too Late for the Elite Universities?

City Journal published the following excellent piece by Liel Leibovitz, editor at large for Tablet:

Opportunity, Not Tragedy

The DEI ship at Harvard and other elite universities is probably too big to turn around - - - it's time to look elsewhere.

If you've ever watched a monster movie, you know the scene. The triumphant heroes walk away, the creature they had just vanquished left for dead behind them. And then, in a furious flash just before the credits start rolling, it opens its eyes and pounces, assuring us that evil never truly dies and that the sequel is coming.

That was the vibe at Harvard University last week. No sooner was its purported plagiarist president, Claudine Gay, forced to step down after struggling to find fault with calls on campus for genocide against Jews than the haughtiest Ivy found itself in trouble again. The university had announced the creation of an anti-Semitism task force, but before it could even convene, some critics pointed out that its co-chairman, history professor Derek Penslar, wasn't exactly the man for the job. . .

One would hope that all those smart people would not do something so dumb. Is it too late for such hopes at Harvard?

*

Consider another recent Harvard initiative, one receiving far less attention from the billionaires who worked to save Harvard by defenestrating Gay. The university's FXB Center for Health and Human Rights is now offering a three-week, intensive "Palestine Social Medicine Course" designed to "introduce students to the social, structural, political, and historical aspects that determine Palestinian health beyond the biological basis of disease."

Are you confused about that last part? Were you brought up to believe that disease is a medical condition caused by things like pathogens and therefore, you know, pretty much all about biology? No worries: the first aim of the course is to introduce you to "structural humility," or the idea that you shouldn't bother your teachers and fellow students with things like questions or facts.

Just ask Carole Hooven. After earning her Ph.D. in 2004, she was appointed as a lecturer at Harvard's department of human evolutionary biology. As a scientist studying hormones, she cautioned medical schools against doing away with the terms "male" and "female," still useful categories when you're trying to care for organisms whose sex chromosomes are expressed in every cell of the body.

This, Hooven soon learned, was more than Harvard would allow. The school, she knew, employs a chief diversity and inclusion officer, who oversees central DEI offices, which in turn correspond with departmental DEI committees and task forces, many run by faculty, staff, or students. And Hooven's DEI commissar, a graduate student, soon took to social media to mark herself "appalled and frustrated by the transphobic and harmful remarks" that Hooven made in an interview on Fox & Friends. . .

Hooven resigned.

Imagine how many people could threaten the university's FXB Center for Health and Human Rights by accidentally using the terms "male and female"! What if Palestinians were to accidentally use those terms in their discussions of "Palestinian health"? But I imagine that Carole Hooven is not Palestinian, given that she was forced to resign due to her focus on the relationship between biology, health and medicine.

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Some of her former colleagues may soon have no choice but to do the same. The Harvard Crimson recently reported that the University's Dana-Farber Cancer Institute "initiated retractions or corrections to 37 papers authored by four senior researchers following allegations of data falsification." This should come as no surprise in an institution that now classifies facts as "scientific opinions" and worries less about their validity and more about how they may make this or that minority group feel.

Change!

Not all groups, though, are entitled to have their feelings taken into consideration: Jews, codified by DEI's loopy logic as white and therefore largely unworthy of attention or resources, don't count. . .

To understand why, look no further than Gay's own op-ed in the New York Times. . .

The Critical Canon!

Gay may no longer be Harvard's president, but the worldview that catapulted her to power is alive and well at the university. Harvard now employs 2,600 administrators, which is more than the cohort of undergrads it admits every year. Ululations from clueless and rich activists aside, the problem that bedevils the Cambridge campus is far from solved.

2,600 (!)

*

What now? Before attempting an answer, we should take a moment to examine the ideology with which we grapple. . . . Writing in Tablet, Bari Weiss captured the movement's essence. DEI, she wrote, is about "arrogating power," installing hordes of administrators who now run our institutions while eroding the standards and beliefs that made these institutions great in the first place.

Once we realize that, we should realize, too, that the struggle to eliminate DEI isn't about subtracting one or two university presidents or adding one or two board members for added balance. As long as the DEI machinery continues to hum, it will offer preposterous courses, exclude groups it finds undesirable, excommunicate its foes, and expunge all but the beliefs it champions. Removing these apparatchiks from every major institution may be too tall a task. . .

"As long as the DEI machinery continues to hum, it will offer preposterous courses, exclude groups it finds undesirable, excommunicate its foes, and expunge all but the beliefs it champions."

Yet, even if the ship proves too big to turn around, Harvard's collapse isn't a tragedy. It's an opportunity -- because intellectual energy, like all energy, never melts into air. Instead, it seeks a new home. Thoughtful and creative people are hard at work thinking up new ideas. Some involve creating new institutions, like the University of Austin. Others revolve around using state power to remake public institutions, like Governor Ron DeSantis's fascinating experiment in Florida. Each effort raises at least as many questions as it offers solutions -- a process that, before DEI, we used to call education. . .

You might want to read the whole thing with a young person.

* * * * *

Quotes

The more I study the history of intellectuals, the more they seem like a wrecking crew, dismantling civilization bit by bit -- replacing what works with what sounds good.

Thomas Sowell

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Dissident Teacher on X

They destroy language, so I want to ensure I'm wielding it like a rapier.

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Music

I'm Movin' On

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Hope you have something nice planned for this weekend.

This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread.

Serving your mid-day open thread needs


* * * * *

Last week's thread, January 27, Pay attention, boys and girls!

Comments are closed so you won't ban yourself by trying to comment on a week-old thread. But don't try it anyway.

Posted by: K.T. at 11:11 AM




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