Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Western Civ at UNC

North Carolina’s Pope family, who have already endowed this center, are proposing a long-term series of grants, culminating, perhaps, in a major endowment to support the study of western civilization at UNC-Chapel Hill. The story is here. Seventy-one UNC faculty have signed this letter protesting the "secret" negotiations between the university and the Pope family’s foundation.

You’re not going to tell me that faculty members have never confidentially sought foundation support for their own curricular programs. So we can assume that the faculty concerns are political, driven in large part by their fear of some hidden Pope family agenda. My fear would be different--that once the endowment was in place, donor intent would be dishonored by a university, many of whose influential faculty are likely hostile to the traditional study of western civilization. My advice to the Pope family: look before you leap and make certain there are safeguards in place that prevent the perversion of your attempt to energize the study of western civilization in Chapel Hill.

Discussions - 3 Comments

So we can assume that the faculty concerns are political, driven in large part by their fear of some hidden Pope family agenda.

It is not a "hidden" agenda that the faculty fears. It seems pretty clear from the letter that they don’t "Western Cultures" being taught, unless it can be pre-screened by some left-wing faculty members to ensure that it presents their views of history. No, this problem rears its ugly head all over academia. The anti-Western left is up in arms because it does not want students to learn anything about the West that wasn’t written by Howard Zinn.

The faculty is fearful of teaching Western Civilization . . . ah, yet more proof of the decline of well . . . er . . . Western Civilization.

I’m the Director of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy and it’s clear to me that the chief reason why the "progressive" faculty is up in arms is that the Center, which is mainly funded by the Pope Foundation but is an independent entity, has frequently criticized UNC for its degraded curriculum and hostility to the expression of ideas the leftists dislike. The "progressives" see this as a chance to get back at the Pope Foundation for funding my Center as well as other anti-statist endeavors.

UNC’s catalogue is heavy with courses loaded with leftist thinking, but they go "Eek! A mouse!" at the prospect of a few courses that would teach Western philosophy, history, aesthetics, and so on without trying to make students believe that all the planet’s woes stem from them.

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