From Inside Higher Ed:
“Northwestern University’s Department of Psychology will not offer a course in human sexuality during the 2011-12 academic year,” the university said in an official statement. “That course was taught previously by Professor J. Michael Bailey, who will have other teaching assignments in the coming year. Courses in human sexuality are offered in a variety of academic departments in other universities, and Northwestern is reviewing how such a course best fits into the University’s curriculum. At Northwestern University, the dean of a college/school has the right and responsibility to determine course assignments.”
Bailey’s human sexuality course reportedly was the most popular course at Northwestern, enrolling 600 students this semester.
The university released the statement after The Daily Northwestern reported on Monday that the course was going to be discontinued. Citing several psychology department sources, the student newspaper reported that the decision had been handed down from above. The university refused to answer any questions from Inside Higher Ed about the statement, including whether “the dean of a college/school” regularly dictates course offerings to departments.
This seems like an overreaction to me; human sexuality is an important field of study, and Bailey is one of the nation’s leading experts. I didn’t take the course while I was at Northwestern, but the consensus was that despite its sometimes circus-like atmosphere, the class covered important topics in an informative way. The university should have come up with new guidelines for the material (and conduct!) that’s allowed in the class, rather than canceling it outright.