Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's All About 'Race, Class, and Gender' at America's Colleges and Universities

I must have been extremely lucky back in college. In the course of both my undergraduate and graduate training in political science, I was taught by mostly mainstream scholars with mainstream areas of expertise.

I was thinking about this last month when Eric Loomis had his big Twitter meltdown, and Robert Stacy McCain featured a guest post from Badger Pundit, "He’s a Lumberjack, and He’s OK: The Wobbly Scholarship of Erik Loomis, Ph.D." Loomis earned his Ph.D. with a dissertation entitled, "The Battle for the Body: Work and Environment in the Pacific Northwest Lumber Industry, 1800-1940." He apparently dealt with homosexual lumberjacks and castrated Marxists --- some bizarre subject material, no doubt of such "marginalized" significance that his committee thought it fine and dandy. The history profession has been intensely focused on social history in recent decades, weeding out the work of earlier traditional historians who are now dismissed as racist, sexist, or what have you.

Loomis finished in 2008, nine years after I graduated from UCSB. I wrote my dissertation on the domestic sources of "under-balancing" in Interwar Europe, entitled "Political Structures, Public Opinion, and the Limits of Great Power Balancing: The Western Democratic Response to German Expansionism, 1933-1941." (Abstract here.) In security studies there were a considerable number of scholars working on the margins of the specialty, bringing in diverse perspectives and methods. But for the most part things were --- and still are --- pretty traditional. Consequently, I've dealt more with race, class, and gender issues (in the humanities and social sciences) through teaching and working on campus committees (and blogging). It's a far left-wing paradigm in the academy, and the cumulative effects have been to rob students of enormous amounts of fundamental knowledge about history, politics, and society.

In any case, Hoover Institution scholar Peter Berkowitz has his latest on the collapse of mainstream, traditional learning in higher education, at RCP, "Failing History: Colleges Neglect Core U.S. Principles."

It's going to take a lot of work to turn things around, and time is of the essence.