Imagine a university where individual differences are viewed, not as a key strength, but as a danger to the learning environment. Think of a campus where people ARE singled out, marginalized, or excluded because of their differences. Now, stop imagining. Because, despite the aspirations of its sister college located up I-25, this kind of university exists.
The College Fix reported that three professors, teaching an online course at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs, urged students to drop their class if they took issue with Anthropogenic Global Warming. As noted by the College Fix, these professors justified the maneuver as follows: “The point of departure for this course is based on the scientific premise that human induced climate change is valid and occurring. We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change, nor will the ‘other side’ of the climate change debate be taught or discussed in this course.”
It would be one thing for Professors Laroche, Haggren, and Skahill to claim that their course on ‘Medical Humanities in the Digital Age’ would not permit sufficient time to explore both sides of a minor topic, with regards to the main thrust of the curriculum. However, climate change appears to be a primary concern of the course. Rather, they use ‘scientific consensus’ as a justification for disallowing intellectual discourse within the class discussion boards.
This kind of hostility characterizes the broader climate debate, but it is also growing more prevalent on college campuses. As rightly observed by Alvin Plantinga and William Lane Craig, the university is the one of the most important institutions shaping Western culture. What then will the result be of stifling intellectual dialogue in our centers of learning?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn offered the following: “It’s an universal law—intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with an arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”
Solzhenitsyn—while not keeping pretension entirely out of his own tone—nailed it. We need to engage in passionate and contrary dialogue about issues—from those as weighty as the future of our environment, to those of lesser gravity. Professors should permit competing views to exist in the classroom—in order to pursue the aims of education (not merely as a token of tolerance).
In the face of these professors’ attempts to indoctrinate instead of teach, we should articulate our views calmly and winsomely. It is critical that we faithfully stand in opposition to the suppression of free speech on our college campuses. I strongly recommend FIRE and the Alliance Defending Freedom as excellent resources on speech rights in the university setting, and The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation for information on the Anthropogenic Global Warming and Climate Change Debates.