Who or What Killed the Liberal Arts?

Mark Bauerlein of First Things and Emory University offers this Tweet of lament today that certainly fits with my own retrospective:

To be sure, back in those days the liberal arts faculty tilted left, and occasionally quite radically left, but the liberal arts enterprise was more grounded in a body of serious, if mistaken, ideas that could be contested. I’m not joking when I say I wish our universities actually still had classical Marxists on their faculties instead of postmodern nihilists. At least Marxism was based on an accessible philosophical and economic critique, and you could have a rational argument with a Marxist. Today’s postmodern academic leftists attack reason itself as a tool of power (and “white supremacy” itself), thus justifying their essentially tyrannical desires and acts. (The roots of all this is going to be the subject of this week’s Three Whisky Happy Hour podcast. Tune in tomorrow!)

And in response to my item yesterday about the cuts starting to happen to tenured faculty in the liberal arts at several universities, another reader passes along two current job ads in political science from Butler University that make the rot explicit:

The Butler University Department of Political Science invites applications for a tenure-track assistant professor with expertise in contemporary political theory. The candidate should have a strong commitment to excellent, inclusive undergraduate teaching and an active scholarly agenda. We are particularly interested in candidates whose scholarship and teaching engages critical, transnational, or global political theory beyond the conventional Western canon such as indigenous, decolonial, modernity/coloniality, Black, or Latin American political thought, and who can offer one or more courses suitable for Core Curriculum Social Justice and Diversity designation.

The Department of Political Science at Butler University invites applications for a full-time non-tenure-track lecturer for a two-year appointment with possibility of renewal. Applicants should have a strong commitment to excellent, inclusive undergraduate teaching. We are particularly interested in candidates whose teaching and scholarship engages intersectional, abolitionist, or critical historical institutional perspectives on race/ethnicity/indigeneity, gender/sexuality, and politics in the United States and potentially beyond it. The successful candidate will teach lower-level and upper-level undergraduate political science courses (including an introductory American politics survey), will contribute to the Core Curriculum, and will help build an inclusive learning environment for our increasingly diverse student population. This faculty member could choose to affiliate with the International Studies; Peace and Conflict Studies; Race, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and/or Science, Technology, and Environmental Studies interdisciplinary programs.

Like the news media, large parts of academia have chosen sides and don’t even pretend to be neutral any more. And the side they’ve chosen is not one that wishes the country well.

Memo to parents of high school students interested possibly in studying political science in college: Scratch Butler University off your list of prospective colleges.

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