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Thursday, March 06, 2003
 
On Ethnic/Gender Studies (cont'd)

Responding to an earlier post of mine (scroll three postings down), Chris Hummel on Dartlog explains why he is skeptical about the College's decision to hire Laura Liu, an Asian-American Studies/ Geography/ Women's Studies professor. (Update: Dartmouth students can find the blitz on the Dartmouth Asian Organization bulletin.)

I pretty much agree with everything Mr. Hummel says, as anyone who's read my op-eds will realize. Some additional points:

1) On student involvement in shaping the curriculum and hiring decisions: if you think professors don't know what it means to be liberally-educated, then what about students? As I've said many times before, "liberal" has less to do with the freedom to do what you want with your four years, and much more to do with the freedom from dogma, ideology, and ignorance. Mr. Hummel and myself share the view that the classics are the way to go.

2) The history of ethnic studies in the US needs to be made known. I'm currently writing a paper on the armed takeover of the Cornell student union in 1969 by black militants. One of the demands of those militants was for a Black Studies program whose goal was black self-empowerment (the militants also wanted a separate Black college and a separate judicial system). Such were the circumstances out of which Black Studies in the US emerged, and they make for troubling reading for anyone concerned with questions of academic freedom. The programs were politicized from the start; have Ethnic Studies programs today divorced themselves from this legacy? I am not sure...