Phi Beta Cons

Strange New Politial Philosophy Introduced at Brown

This spring, a brand-new course is being taught at Brown University, according to Salon.com:

The course, “Modern Conservatism in America: Conservative Thought in the 20th Century,” was developed as part of a project called Conservatism 101… In a statement, Brown student and project co-developer Terrence George says students at elite schools are often unable to study views “outside of academia’s leftist mainstream.”

A Brown spokeswoman says the Ivy League university encourages broad intellectual exploration and gives students freedom to design their education.

The Conservatism 101 project was started by students at the University of Virginia. Here’s some info from the group’s website:

In fall 2009, the Burke Society proposed to the university’s student council that the [conservatism] class be added to UVA’s curriculum. Initially, the course proposal was rejected. But the students persevered. They worked with the Leadership Institute, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and other national organizations to strategize and build support for the course. They consulted conservative faculty and administrators to increase the academic rigor of the course.

The proposal was submitted again to the university council in spring 2010. This time, the course was approved, and added to UVA’s curriculum for the next semester.

Now the Burke Society and the Leadership Institute want to use the success of the UVA course to bring a class on conservatism to other colleges.

A single class won’t do much to remedy the leftward tilt at these schools, but at least there is some potential for students to be exposed to ideas they can’t get on The Daily Show during their four years in college. I applaud Brown and UVA for incorporating a class on conservatism into their curriculum.

Hopefully, these classes will explore conservative ideas with genuine curiosity, and won’t merely be forums for mocking all the inscrutable tea-stained masses of Red States of America and making fun of Sarah Palin. The success of these classes will depend on the intellectual seriousness of the professors who teach them.

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