Green Weenie of the Week: San Jose State University

One of my favorite scenes from Dirty Harry (the first film to “talk back to liberalism,” as the late, great Richard Grenier put it) is when Clint Eastwood’s Inspector Callahan meets his new and unwanted partner, Chico Gonzales:

Callahan: “You from around here?”

Gonzales: “Yeah, but I went to school at San Jose State.”

Callahan: “Just what I need, a college boy. . . Get your degree?”

Gonzales: “Sociology.”

Callahan: “Sociology?  Oh, you’ll go far. . .  That’s if you live.”

If this scene were remade today, no doubt Gonzales would major in gender and ethnic studies, and Callahan would say, “Oh, you’ll go far . . . That’s if you can get a job.”

This came to mind from two items this week about San Jose State University, one involving some general lamosity connected to the ongoing deflation of the higher education bubble, and the second for which SJSU will receive Power Line’s coveted Green Weenie Award.  First, the philosophy department at San Jose State sent off an indignant letter to Harvard University’s legendary Michael Sandel.  Brief digression:  How legendary is Sandel?  Tom Friedman writes columns about “my good friend” Michael Sandel!  So there.  This line from a recent Friedman column is especially precious and could have come from the Friedman random column generator:

You see, I was picked up at Logan Airport by my old friend Michael Sandel, who teaches the famous Socratic, 1,000-student “Justice” course at Harvard, which is launching March 12 as the first humanities offering on the M.I.T.-Harvard edX online learning platform. When he met me at the airport I saw he was wearing some very colorful sneakers.

We’ll have to put off finding out about Sandel’s nifty sneakers for some other time, as well as Sandel’s induction in the Power Line 100 Best Professors list, as his course is actually pretty good, for the edX course Friedman swoons over here is what has SJSU’s philosophers feeling very un-Socratic.  It seems the administration at SJSU wants the philosophy department to use Sandel’s online course, and the philosophy department rebelled, telling Sandel, “The move to MOOCs comes at great peril to our university.  We regard such courses as a serious compromise of quality of education and, ironically for a social justice course, a case of social injustice. . .   Professors who care about public education should not produce products that will replace professors, dismantle departments and provide a diminished education for student in public universities.” (Emphasis added–ponder that particular clause for a bit, and see if you can stifle your laughter.)

You can read the entire five-page letter here, but it could have been one short paragraph that read simply, “Hey—you’re going to put us out of a job!”  Sandel, being a good liberal, has expressed his sympathy, writing back, “The worry that the widespread use of online courses will damage departments in public universities facing budgetary pressures is a legitimate concern that deserves serious debate, at edX and throughout higher education.  The last thing I want is for my online lectures to be used to undermine faculty colleagues at other institutions.”  I doubt Sandel is going to give in to the flat earthers and pull the online course, however.  What would Tom Friedman write about if he did?  But whatever you do, don’t miss Roger Kimball’s guffaws over this at PJ Media.  He calls it “this week’s funniest headline.”

But the fun and games at San Jose State aren’t confined to the philosophy department.  The department of meteorology and climate science recently received a copy of the Heartland Institute’s new book, The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Climatism by Steve Goreham, and rather than read the book, throw it in the recycle pile, or critique it, two members of the faculty, including the department chair, decided to . . . burn it.  And showing that their degrees apparently came from the Anthony Weiner School of Twitterdom, they decided to post photographs of themselves setting the book on fire on their department’s website.  As they explained on their site:

This week we received a deluge of free books from the Heartland Institute {this or this }. The book is entitled “The Mad, Mad, Made World of Climatism”. Shown above, Drs. Bridger and Clements test the flammability of the book.

The photo, shown below has since been scrubbed, but WattsUpWithThat has the screen cap and the full story.  Curious: just what is the carbon footprint of burning a book they dislike?  Did they get a permit from the local air pollution control district?

So, this week Power Line is pleased to give an All-Purpose Global Weenie Award to multiple departments of San Jose State University, where they could clearly use an Inspector Callahan figure in the provost’s office.

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