2/24/2007

Thought Diversity

The Tribune included the following in its weekly "The Edge" column today:

Quote of the week

“If there is one endangered species in Montana, it is conser­vative thought in our university system.” That’s state Rep. Klayton Kerns, R-Laurel, speaking in support of legislation by Rep. Roger Koopman, R­Bozeman, to require state colleges to report to a leg­islative committee on their “intellectual diversity.” Fortunately, the measure was voted down by the full House, 57-43.

Interesting, isn't it, that those who make their living by expressing their ideas would find it 'fortunate' that the House refused to pass a law trying to ensure diversity of ideas.

It's interesting, too, because I don't recall the paper's Editorial Board ever commenting negatively about the concept of cultural diversity. For example, one can see that cultural diversity mandates are firmly entrenched at the University of Montana.

Given that a university exists primarily (or at least in part) to encourage intellectual pursuits, is it not fair to conclude that an emphasis on cultural diversity exists to enhance and foster those pursuits? In other words, if the emphasis on cultural diversity in the educational environment is not thought to improve the learning process, why emphasize diversity at all? For its own sake?

And if we are quick to support cultural diversity as supporting the intellectual environment, why, then, would we be opposed to supporting actual intellectual diversity as well? I might suggest that it is because this whole notion was proposed by someone on the right side of the aisle. Let's take a look at some of the ideas from Koopman's bill that the Editorial Board finds "fortunately" missing from our universities:

The creation of knowledge results from the continuous testing of claims to truth, the encouragement of criticism, the toleration of diverse opinions, and the open opportunity to examine, interrogate, and challenge any claim.

Intellectual diversity is the foundation of a learning environment that exposes students to a variety of political, ideological, and other perspectives when these perspectives relate to the subject matter being taught or issues being discussed.

Colleges and universities should welcome intellectual diversity and the free exchange of ideas as values indispensable to teaching, program development, and a liberal education.

Teachers should not take unfair advantage of students by indoctrinating them with the teachers' own opinions before the students have had an opportunity to examine other opinions.

Academic decisions, including grades, should be based solely on considerations that are intellectually relevant to the subject matter under consideration.

Political and ideological bias in hiring, promotion, and tenure is unacceptable.
And lord knows we would not want to support the Academic Rights and Responsibilities promulgated by the American Council on Education. Fortunately.

1 comment:

david said...

The thing that really ticked me off was the use of the word "fortunately" in the Edge column.