Correction: In Nov. 21’s “Geography 135 Makes List of ‘Dirty’ Courses,” Geography Dept. Chair Keith Clarke’s name was misspelled.
The Nexus regrets this error.
A national group of young conservatives says a class on clean air is dirty with liberal bias, but the UCSB professors in charge of the course say that’s just hot air.
UCSB’s Geography 135, a course that holds a mock environmental summit, was #7 in this year’s Young America’s Foundation list of the “dirty dozen” – a list of “the 12 most outlandish and politically biased courses on today’s campuses.”
George Mason University student Rick Parsons created YAF’s “dirty dozen” list. Parsons made his selections by looking through the titles and course descriptions of all courses offered at major universities around the country and released his findings at the end of August.
The course description for Geography 135 reads, “A mock summit in which students act as representatives of different countries participating in environmental treaty negotiations. Students work in teams of four or five to prepare a presentation and discussion of environmental issues of concern to the world (e.g. energy, greenhouse gasses, etc.)”
Parsons said he feels the “dirty dozen” list is an important source of information for taxpayers, parents and prospective college students.
“I hope [the “dirty dozen” list] will encourage them to look at the course catalogs at the university that they are applying to, to see if all points of view are introduced in the courses being offered on campus,” he said.
He said the courses on the list do students an injustice by limiting sources of information and thus their education.
“Courses that don’t offer different ideas are doing a disservice to students,” Parsons said. “The point of higher education is to discuss a diversity of ideas.”
Geography Professor Catherine Gautier, who teaches the class, and Geography Department Chair Keith Clark disagree with the inclusion of Geography 135 in the “dirty dozen.”
“We appreciate the attention but wish the attention had come for some other reason,” Clark said. “The review of classes for inclusion on the ‘dirty dozen’ must have been quite superficial.”
Gautier and Clarke claim the class is anything but politically biased.
“It’s not controversial. Students are not required to be environmentalists. I want different points of view,” Gautier said. “The class has different facets, so the more diverse the class, the richer it is. It is based on the students that come, what their perspective is.”
Students that participate in Gautier’s mock environmental summit adopt the roles of all different parties involved in protocol negotiation, including environmentalists, government officials and members of the press. The goal is to create an improved version of the existing Kyoto Protocol, a global environmental policy attempting to reduce carbon gas emissions.
At the end of the class, students vote on whether or not to ratify the environmental policy. Last summer students voted against ratification.
The “dirty dozen” are chosen from YAF’s list of “Comedy and Tragedy” courses.
“The courses show a preoccupation with sex, race baiting and class warfare and a continuing affinity for Marxism,” the list’s introduction said. “There is also evidence of a virulent prejudice against Western culture, the United States, the free market and Christianity.”
The introduction goes on to warn “that the next taboo to be flouted may be pedophilia.”
Eight University of California schools are on the 58-school list, and the UC system is given its own section in the listings. UCSB had more courses listed in “Comedy and Tragedy” than any other UC.
Besides Geography 135, 23 other UCSB courses made “Comedy and Tragedy” for 2002-2003. Some of them are: English 129, Queer Textuality; Film Studies 163, Women and Film: Feminist Perspectives; and Black Studies 104, Black Marxism.
UCSB’s total of courses listed in “Comedy and Tragedy” is trailed by UC Santa Cruz (22), UCLA (18), and UC Berkeley (12).