Outlandish college courses: the Ivy League Dirty Dozen

Kate L. Edwards Contributor
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The Ivy League: eight world-class institutions, by any measure, and home to some of the greatest minds in America.

The existence of leftist bias at these schools isn’t particularly surprising. After all, as The Daily Caller has reported, 96 percent of all Ivy League faculty and staff that donated to a 2012 presidential campaign contributed to President Barack Obama’s re-election effort. At Princeton University, Obama received a staggering 99 percent of all presidential political donations (worth $170,000). Mitt Romney received donations from just two employees — a visiting lecturer and a custodian. (RELATED: Obama the overwhelming favorite at Princeton)

Still, it’s incredible to see the way course offerings at these prestigious schools can be so crudely and uncritically filled with the cultural assumptions and stereotypes of the left.

The phenomenon is not limited to the Ivy League, of course. Over the next few days, The Daily Caller will present the Young America’s Foundation’s “The Dirty Dozen” list of the most notable ideologically liberal course offerings at elite public and private schools, including the Ivies. All the schools offering the courses are ranked in the top 50 by U.S. News & World Report.

Below, savor the Ivy League Dirty Dozen. The course descriptions are reprinted verbatim from the schools’ websites.

Harvard University, Government: Progressive Alternatives: Institutional Reconstruction Today

The past and future agenda of progressives, whether liberals or leftists. What should they propose now that they no longer believe that governmental direction of the economy works or that redistributive social programs suffice? A basic concern is the relation of programmatic thought to the understanding of change and constraint. The course explores institutional alternatives in contemporary societies, and reconsiders the traditions of social theory and political philosophy in the light of an interest in such alternatives.

University of Pennsylvania, Religious Studies: The Feminist Critique of Christianity

An overview of the past decades of feminist scholarship about Christian and post-Christian historians and theologians who offer a feminist perspective on traditional Christian theology and practice. This course is a critical overview of this material, presented with a summary of Christian biblical studies, history and theology, and with a special interest in constructive attempts at creating a spiritual tradition with women’s experience at the center.

Dartmouth College, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies: Queer Marriage, Hate Crimes, and Will and Grace: Contemporary Issues in LGBT Studies

This course will explore a wide range of contemporary issues and debates in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies. We will do this by examining, in some detail, several issues now integral to present LGBT rights movements, but will expand our focus beyond the immediate concerns of political organizing to the broader questions these issues raise. The LGBT movement, now three decades old, is facing serious growing pains. It has won toleration and some mainstream acceptance, but must now decide its current needs, agendas, social and political goals. We will look at three important areas of discussion: challenges to the legal system such as the repeal of sodomy laws and hate crime legislation; evolving social constructions of LGBT life such as gay marriage, the “gayby-boom,” and the effect of AIDS on community formation; the threat of queer sexuality especially as it relates to issues of childhood sexuality, public sex, and transgender identity. We will be reading primary source material, including Supreme Court decisions, as well as critical theory by writers such as Lani Guinier and Samuel Delany. We will also look at how popular culture movies like “Basic Instinct” “‘Scary Movie,” “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back” and television’s “Will and Grace” and “Six Feet Under” both reflect and shape popular opinion. We will also examine how race, class, gender, and “the body” are integral to these topics and how queer representation in popular culture shapes both public discourse, and the LGBT cultural and political agendas.

Brown University, American Studies: Crises in American Capitalism

We are now in the midst of what is commonly called the Great Recession — the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression. This course investigates these two crises in American capitalism: how they were caused, resisted, represented, and remembered. Students will be asked to interrogate the meanings of these economic crises, and to consider their various political and cultural uses.

Brown University, Environmental Studies: The Fate of the Coast: Land Use and Public Policy in an Era of Rising Seas

For the last few decades, there has been a land-rush on the ocean coasts of the United States. Unfortunately, this swamps the coast at a time when sea levels are on the rise. In some places the rise is natural, in some places the rise is exacerbated by human activities and everywhere it is fueled by climate change. This course will examine the causes of sea level rise, the effects it produces on land, the steps people have taken to deal with these effects and their consequences, and possible remedies.

Harvard University, Earth and Planetary Sciences: Global Warming Debates

The atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is now the highest it has been in at least 800,000 years, raising concerns regarding possible future climate changes. This seminar will survey the science of global change from the perspective of scientific debates within climate community. Specifically, the course will involve guided reading and discussion of papers that present contentious view points on the science of global change, with the goal of students learning how to scientifically evaluate these claims. Laboratories will provide students with hands on experience with some climate models and data.

Princeton University, Freshman Seminar: The Everglades Today and Tomorrow: Global Change and the Impact of Human Activities on the Biosphere

“The Everglades are a test. If we pass the test, we get to keep planet Earth,” stated Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, an American journalist and conservationist who devoted her life’s work to the Everglades.

Twelve years ago the U.S. Congress authorized a $7.8 billion restoration effort to redeem the natural Everglades. Water in South Florida once flowed in a shallow, slow-moving sheet that covered one of the largest wetlands in the world. An exceptional variety of water habitats provided food and shelter to birds and reptiles, and to threatened mammals such as the manatee and the Florida panther. By the early 1900s, however, the drainage effort to make the “river of grass” amenable to agriculture and urban use was underway. Today the remaining fraction of the original Everglades ecosystem is under threat as human activities compete for land and water and affect water quality. In spite of the restoration plan, which is the largest hydrologic restoration project ever undertaken in the United States, progress has been slow, and the Everglades have been back on the UNESCO list of global heritage sites in danger since 2010.

Harvard University, Government: Inequality and American Democracy

The “rights revolutions” of the 1960s and 1970s removed barriers to full citizenship for African Americans, women, and other formerly marginalized groups. But inequalities of wealth and income have grown since the 1970s. How do changing social and economic inequalities influence American democracy? This seminar explores empirical research and normative debates about political participation, about government responsiveness to citizen preferences, and about the impact of public policies on social opportunity and citizen participation.

Dartmouth College, Religion: Beyond God the Father: An Introduction to Gender and Religion

This course is designed as an introduction both to the study of religion and to the study of gender as it has come to affect the way religion is studied. Topics to be discussed include: the social construction of gender and religion; overcoming binaries, essences, and universalizing; religious symbolism and the projection theory of religion; post-Christian feminism; the roots of patriarchy; the case of Judaism; the case of Islam; new studies helping to create a “feminist philosophy of religion.”

Yale University, Environmental Studies: The Human Population Explosion

The worldwide population explosion in its human, environmental, and economic dimensions. Sociobiological bases of reproductive behavior. Population history and the cause of demographic change. Interactions of population growth with economic development and environmental alteration. Political, religious, and ethical issues surrounding fertility; human rights and the status of women.

Yale University, African American Studies: Poverty under Postindustrial Capitalism

Political economy of contemporary social welfare policy as it has been affected by economic restructuring, the development of the underclass, and the effects of immigration on the economy and its social structure.

Dartmouth College, Sociology: Capitalism, Prosperity and Crisis

Capitalism in the last five centuries generated great wealth and prosperity in Western societies. In the last few decades, capitalism assumed a global character affecting social and economic life of the vast majority of the people in the world. Yet, capitalism has also been plagued by economic decline and failures, causing massive human suffering. This course will study the nature of capitalism, sources of prosperity and crisis, inequality in distribution of economic and political power.


Stay tuned for The Dirty Dozen for private and public schools, coming soon.

Kate Edwards is the program officer for chapter services for Young Americans for Freedom, a Project of Young America’s Foundation.

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