Another one from Instapundit Glenn Reynolds:
Under the heading “HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: U.S. History, as taught at Bowdoin“, Reynolds linked to this article which cites a recent article in the Claremont Review of Books bemoaning the state of the History education offered by Bowdoin. Among the complaints:
For example, there is African-American history from 1619 to 1865 and from 1865 to the present, but there is no comparable sequence on America. Every course is social or cultural history that looks at the world through the prism of race, class, and gender. Even a course on the environment (offered in the history department) “examines the links between ecology and race, class, and gender.”
Do Bowdoin alumni know their alma mater offers not one history course in American political, military, diplomatic, constitutional, or intellectual history, and nothing at all on the American Founding or the Constitution; that the one Civil War course is essentially African-American history (it is offered also in Africana Studies); and that there are more courses on gay and lesbian subjects than on American history?
A couple of things about this. As Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States makes abundantly clear (if you haven’t read it yet, do so) there is no “one history” of America. What seems to be upsetting the author of this article is that there is no “Rich White Man’s History” taught at Bowdoin . . . as if learning the history of African Americans from 1619 to the present has no relation to “real” American history. Not to mention the fact that cross-listing a Civil War class in the Africana Studies Department is, I would say, totally reasonable regardless of the perspective it brings to the material.
But what’s worse is the fact that he’s just straight up wrong. From Bowdoin’s course catalog:
150b. Introduction to American Government. Fall 2010. Jeffrey S. Selinger.
Provides a comprehensive overview of the American political process. Specifically, traces the foundations of American government (the Constitution, federalism, civil rights, and civil liberties), its political institutions (Congress, Presidency, courts, and bureaucracy), and its electoral processes (elections, voting, and political parties). Also examines other influences, such as public opinion and the mass media, which fall outside the traditional institutional boundaries, but have an increasingly large effect on political outcomes.
Seems to me that class would cover “the American Founding or the Constitution.”
It took me maybe 10 minutes to find that course offering (it was under “Government” rather than the “History”department). But who can spare time for fact-checking when they’re rushing to get their submission in for a journal that’s published every three months?
I’ve emailed Reynolds and the Claremont Review of Books about this, as well as posted a comment on the blog to which Reynolds linked. All of them simply provided the course description from above and linked them to the Course Catalog. No responses yet. . .