Indoctrination U

Photo credit: Washington Post

by James A. Bacon

This January the University of Virginia offers what it calls “signature” courses, which address inter-disciplinary topics that are “timely and of enduring significance.” The University has just released a preliminary list of 11 courses for the 2021 term. Four appear to be devoid of overt political bias. But judging from the course descriptions, the rest have leftist perspectives baked in. Not one of the courses explicitly addresses conservative, libertarian or traditional perspectives on society. This is what passes for intellectual diversity at UVa today.

These excerpts are taken verbatim from the course descriptions:

ARTS 1505 The Art of Resistance
Faculty: Mona Kasra & Lydia Moyer (Drama and Art)

This course will focus on the role of the contemporary visual culture in staging social movements and the ways in which grassroots activists employ visually-oriented practices as a means of political resistance and collective mobilization. … Guest lectures will include activists, artists, and protesters from recent social movements such as Black Lives Matter, Appalachians Against Pipelines, and Extinction Rebellion, many of whom have connections to local Charlottesville and surrounding Virginia communities. Students will be evaluated based on reflective writing assignments on course content and a collaborative project-based final assignment.

HIST 2559/MDST 2559 Democracy in Danger
Faculty: Will Hitchcock and Siva Vaidhyanathan (History and Media Studies)

Democracy is in trouble today. Why? This course explores the growing threats to democracy in the United States and globally. Topics include:  the impact of xenophobia, racism and radical nationalism on democracy; the rise of far-right media; the growth of White Power militias; legal barriers against voting, immigration and citizenship; as well as the impact of social media and cyber-based disinformation.

ENWR 2520 Global Advocacy, Democracy, and Public Narrative
Faculty: Stephen Parks (English)

In the face of rising authoritarianism, democratic activists across the globe are organizing and advocating for fundamental political rights. Over the ten days of this J-Term course, students in have the opportunity to meet, discuss, as well as work with such global activists, discovering how they craft public narratives for a better future, develop inclusive strategies, and build movements for change. … Engaging effectively in democratic activism, however, requires more than pragmatic skills. Activists must possess their own sense of the meaning of democracy, premised in the political and cultural traditions of their communities/countries. They must understand theories of public narrative, the local concepts that speak to inclusion and unity. And they must possess an understanding of how change occurs, so that a conception of democracy and public narrative produce results for those too often on the wrong side of privilege.

PLAN 3810/ARCH 3500 Climate Justice in Cities: Designing for Systems Change
Faculty: Barbara Brown Wilson and Jeana Ripple (Architecture)

This course introduces design and systems thinking techniques to address the interrelated crises of climate change and social inequity in U.S. cities. The intersectional impact of climate change and social inequity is at the heart of a broad contemporary congressional resolution entitled the Green New Deal [GND]. The GND proposal sets targets within a “just transition” framework but leaves much of the process up for further interpretation. This course asks how such transformational change might work in cities- introducing students to design and systems thinking techniques to examine the socio-technical context, challenges, and opportunities that animate systems change in the built world.

HIST 2559/RELG 2559 Whiteness: History of a Racial Category
Faculty: Jalane Schmidt and Andrew Kahri (Religious Studies and History)

The insidious systematic injustices resulting from white supremacy, and the phenomena of “white privilege” and “white fragility” have been recent topics of debate in the U.S., where a resurgent white nationalism has unleashed violent political conflict. This course examines the necessary prior question: what is “whiteness”? Often functioning as an unmarked category of putative racelessness against which raced “Others” were contrasted, whiteness was treated as self-evident and eluded critical examination. Upon closer review, the shifting definitions of whiteness reveal the inherent instability of its boundaries, and the efforts to police them.

How to Build a Healthy Human Brain
Faculty: Jessica Connelly and James Morris (Psychology)

The social, mental, and physical well-being of humans is dependent upon slow maturation of a number of critical biological systems over the course of the lifespan. Biological and environmental influences on the maturation of these systems are vast and varied. … We will discuss how modern society has introduced many challenges to these developmental experiences including social, environmental and educational inequality, which are a direct threat to these natural human processes.

MDST 3559 Race, Protest, and the Media
Faculty: Camilla Fojas and Shilpa Dave (Media Studies)

How does media frame and influence how protests centered on racial justice become touchstone generational events? Our class will frame contemporary movements around BLM, Undocumented and Unafraid, protests against the Muslim ban, and the success of groundbreaking texts such as Black Panther through the lens of key media moments of historical protest. We will study the rise of the Power Movements and Ethnic Studies in the 1960s, the Immigration Rights movement that rose in response to anti-Asian and Anti-Latinx violence along with analysis of the Rodney King beating and subsequent L.A. Riots of the 1990s.

Only four classes appeared in their descriptions to be free from overt leftist perspectives. One addresses Buddhist meditation in the modern secular world. One explores pandemics as complex scientific and social phenomena. One is an Introduction to Cognition and Cognitive Biases.

A fourth course, “The Past, Present, and Future of Mankind,” asked questions that hinted that the professors would be open to non-leftist perspectives: What makes civilizations rise and fall? Will traits that made us a successful species serve us in the future, or are we domed by our very nature?

UVa President Jim Ryan insists that the university community is based on the free exchange of ideas. I will present his defense of that proposition — in which this list of signature courses is not mentioned — in my next post.

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24 responses to “Indoctrination U

  1. Snore

    • Typical far left response to an issue that the left doesn’t want to address. “Boring” and “Nothing to see here” seems to be the narrative of the day for the left. See e.g. Hunter Biden affair Since you have nothing useful to say, why not just abandon the blog as you did a few years ago? At least then, we wouldn’t have to scroll over the space occupied by your posts to get to substantive posts.

  2. Man Oh Man! Shocking! Clearly UVA going to hell in a handbasket! Que the next post about the end of civilization as we know it!

    • Typical far left response to an issue that the left doesn’t want to address. “Boring” and “Nothing to see here” seems to be the narrative of the day for the left. See e.g. Hunter Biden affair Since you have nothing useful to say, why not just follow in Peter’s steps and abandon the blog as he did a few years ago? At least then, we wouldn’t have to scroll over the space occupied by your posts to get to substantive posts.

      • If the Biden thing had any legs, WSJ would have done the story and they backed off because the “facts” were in question.

        Ya’ll have gone so far right that it’s comical.

        Used to be Conservatives actually were actually “conservative” – but now… holy moly – just bonkers!!!

      • Surprised at you JD……

  3. “…staging social movements and the ways in which grassroots activists employ visually-oriented practices as a means of political resistance and collective mobilization.”

    I’m wondering if the course also touches on the practical skills of resistance such as proper technique for making Molotov cocktails, and how to effectively seal buildings to prevent the occupants from escaping to safety after it’s been set fire.

    I ask this because it’s my understanding that when rioters in Seattle tried to burn police officers alive inside their precinct building by sealing off the door with quick drying cement, they used too much water in Quikrete which allowed the officers to escape.

    “Seattle police officers were forced to kick their way out of an East Precinct exit door Monday night, after rioters jammed it with boards and rebar, and attempted to seal the door closed with quick-dry cement.”

    “As the door was being jammed, surveillance video shows several other people building a fire outside the building near the exit door, in an attempt to set the building on fire.”

    “Surveillance video from that location shows one of the firebombs bursting, igniting the building’s rear stairway in flames, before officers were able to extinguish the fire.”

    https://www.kiro7.com/news/local/spd-rioters-tried-trap-officers-inside-burning-precinct-using-rebar-concrete/5AERWGBGYJE7DC6CLW3PEKKAEE/

  4. James Wyatt Whitehead V

    I should get a discount for the “Whiteness” class. Last name of Whitehead. So white that I am afraid of terrifying children at the pool by taking off my shirt. Ultra violet white. My bottom is beyond milky white. Creature from the bottom of the ocean white. UVA charges $451 per credit hour.

  5. CrazyJD’s still CrazyBS. Cherry pick courses and it’s Hanoi High. Sorry but have to prepare my UVA radio show. Bet that pisses you off. Hah!

    • Speaking of Hanoi Peter, you seem very familiar with the concept. After all one of your posts parroted the propaganda that Hanoi Hannah broadcasted in Vietnam.

      The North Vietnamese exploited the racial tensions in the states and directly targeted black soldiers with propaganda.

      • “The North Vietnamese exploited the racial tensions in the states and directly targeted black soldiers with propaganda.”

        MOST of whom didn’t buy their bullshit for a second.

        • True, however someone should tell Spike Lee. He managed to make a film this year revolving around it.

          “Da 5 Blood”

          • The noisy minority always make better subjects for movies than the quiet majority.

          • Very true. I’ve recently given to listening to podcasts from members of MAC-V-SOG, I find the secret war fascinating.

            It’s also fascinating watching 5th Group then forming Blue Light after the War until Delta was stood up.

    • “Sorry but have to prepare my UVA radio show. Bet that pisses you off. Hah!”

      How appropriate. The perfect fit. Peter Galuszka has become the public face of President “Wait, What? Ryan’s UVA.

    • “Sorry but have to prepare my UVA radio show.”

      Sounds interesting. Could you provide a link to the podcast?

  6. from the description of PSYC 2559 An Introduction to Cognition and Cognitive Biases: “How the mind works is a question that have been contemplated for centuries but only in the past 60 years has been scientifically studied by cognitive psychologists.”

    Questions of political bias aside, my “cognitive bias” tells me that someone in the PSYC Department needs a remedial English class.

  7. Never met mr Ryan or heard Hanoi Hannah. Haven’t heard or met Marx,Lenin, Stalin or Hitler either. Not even mao. But I did have an exclusive interview in the Kremlin with Nickoli ryhzkov, head of the ussr government. I also dropped by boris’s yeltsin’s apartment for tea and went to a cocktail party with him. So, go ahead. Rip me up!

    • James Wyatt Whitehead V

      You should write a memoir Mr. Peter. You have too many good stories that I would like to hear.

    • “I also dropped by boris’s yeltsin’s apartment for tea and went to a cocktail party with him.”

      Cool! Was that while he was party leader for the Sverdlovsk Oblast or after he moved to Moscow? My interest lies primarily in pre-revolutionary Russia so I don’t know all that much about Yeltsin other than that he was the guy who was put in charge of demolishing the Ipatiev House in 1977 or thereabouts. Was he interesting to talk to?

  8. Actually it was 1989 and our editor in chief was visiting. Big deal. He wanted to see Gorbachev but he was in Germany. Yeltsin was very popular and we were invited to his apartment. His wife made sure he behaved. Later we were hosting a cocktail party and many went including the us ambassador who wanted to avoid Yeltsin. It did not work out. Yeltsin got roaring drunk. Needed help getting him out. At the time he was making a political comeback. Been thrown if the politburo.

  9. Thanks. I am really dated. Left in 1996 and not been back. Amazon prime streams russian movies and I still remember a bit. Love to visit

    • I’d like to go back again, too. My wife and I visited the Perm and Komi regions twice during 2002. The end of our first visit coincided with the Nord-Ost Siege. We arrived in Moscow to catch a flight home on the evening before the final assault on the theater.

      Security was extremely tight and the the mood was very tense. There were a lot of no-nonsense soldiers and grim-looking police officers patrolling the airport with automatic rifles. We did not know until just a few minutes before take-off whether our flight was going to be allowed to leave.

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