Changing the Curriculum & Course Offerings on Your Campus

Changing University Courses and Curriculum Now that you're at college and the initial excitement has worn off, maybe you're thinking that the course selection is a bit biased and you'd like some options.

So how do you (the consumer) get the college (the business) to change up its offerings? It certainly won't be easy. Nevertheless it's something that should be done--particularly since you're footing the bill.

A good, education in a free society requires the exploration of ideas, weighing both sides of issues, and even learning to challenge authority by asking difficult questions. Many college and university classes completely fail in this regard. Those who teach these classes will protest, but the truth is obvious to all who are willing to look with open eyes.

Can you help bring real intellectual diversity to the classroom? For that matter, how can you possibly know what you should learn if you haven't yet learned it?

To start, take a look at the course offerings from Hillsdale College and Grove City College. Why these two colleges in particular? Because those are the only two colleges in the United States that do not accept federal money. In other words, they are the only independent colleges in the country. And as a result they have continued the tradition of educating students to be free men and women.

Two good groups to reach out to are the National Association of Scholars and the Pope Center for Higher Education Reform. They are non-profit organizations devoted to reforming higher education in America.

The Leadership Institue (LI) is also helping students in this endeavor with their Conservativism 101 effort, which aims to bring classes on conservative philosophy to various campuses around the country. LI claims successes on campuses such as American University, Brown University, and University of Virginia. Learn more here about how LI will support you in the endeavor. 

Now that you have an idea about the types of courses you'd like to see your college or university offer, it's time to get the lay of the land and to network.

  1. Set specific and realistic goals. Do you want to see a class on say "The Founder's Views on Liberty" added to the History offerings? Do you want to see a series of classes? If so, be specific. Also, don't expect to be able to reform an entire major or discipline from the get-go. That's not going to happen. It's best to work around the edges by introducing a few classes.
  2. Meet with the appropriate school officials. Don't come into the meeting loaded for bear. Be friendly and polite. Find out what it would take to get your specific goal and what the time frame would be for new classes to be added.
  3. How that meeting goes will dictate your next moves.
  4. If the school works with you, great. But be careful; they may act like they're working with you, but really just dragging their feet. Ask for them to set deadlines and keep on the process. If the process fails, go to step five.
  5. Before you go any further, you're going to need to make a commitment to this cause. You probably will have to commit to something that may take multiple semesters to accomplish. Understand that you may want to get activist training from the Leadership Institute. Don't forget to contact Intellectual Takeout, too. 
  6. Reach out to the conservative/libertarian/freedom-loving students on your campus. You'll know the local terrain best, but it's critical to have many voices. Let them know what your specific goals are and how you would like to work together to accomplish them. Additionally, because changing up course offerings does take time, it's good to have a group behind the push for change because that will provide for continuity in the efforts. 
  7. Begin to market your idea. Write letters to the school paper, distribute flyers, put up posters, etc.
  8. Once you have a solid network of students that want to see change, do an on-campus petition. Build your numbers.
  9. Take the petition to your school's administration. Show them that you're not the only one who would like to have more intellectual diversity on campus.
  10. If the school begins to work with you, good job! If the school refuses to work with you and you want to continue attending the school, go to step eleven.
  11. Have students contact their parents. Parents are often the one's paying for college educations. Show them the type of courses you would like the school to offer. No doubt, they'll support your effort. It's not like you're asking for money to host a kegger.
  12. Once you prove that you can build a movement for change on campus and have parent support, approach the school administration again. If they're still not willing to work with you, it's time to consider ramping up your efforts.
  13. A good first step to ramping up your efforts would be to reach out to off-campus, local conservative and libertarian think tanks and organizations. The State Policy Network is a good place to look for contacts. You might also want to consider reaching out to local tea party groups since many have an existing grassroots network. And, of course, let Intellectual Takeout know what's going on.
  14. Publicize your effort in the community. Again, seek out training to do all of this at the Leadership Institute. Contact local business leaders, the school's alumni, and tax payers if you are at a state school (their money often subsidizes some portion of the schools activities). Particularly for state schools, contact elected officials. Contact the local news sources and chambers of commerce. Also, let the national organizations and talking heads know about your effort. Put videos up on YouTube. National attention will help.
  15. Take the petition signed by students and start to get the same thing going around the local community or state. 

Your goal is to leverage the alumni community and the surrounding community (and even the national community) to get change going. Many, many people out there are displeased by what colleges and universities are calling "education" these days. You have many allies; you just need to organize them and focus their energy.

In everything you do, be respectful and polite, but don't back down. Don't be intimidated. You are paying for an education that is likely skewing your worldview to the left simply by exposing you mainly to those ideas. Why pay for that? Take back your future by demanding more.

More About This Topic...

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Commentary or Blog Post

"The Center for Biological Diversity ('CBD') has recently taken the first step toward using the Endangered Species Act ('ESA') to regulate industries accused of contributing to global warming. If CBD is successful, virtually every segment of U.S. industry will become subject to the ESA's standard to insure no harm to ESA-protected species."

National Geographic reports that the Endangered Species Act can sometimes backfire and cites a number of examples of intentional habitat destruction intended to make land inhospitable to endangered species.

Adler, professor of law at Case Western University, remarks on the defects of the Endangered Species Act on the 30th anniversary of its enactment, citing a study in the December 2003 Conservation Biology that reports just as many landowners responded to the listing of Preble's meadow jumping mouse by destroying potential habitat as undertook new conservation efforts.

Increasingly, the theory of global warming is being linked to the destruction of endangered species. There is no arguing that climate change can kill off species; consider the dinosaurs. Consider, too, that the dinosaurs were killed off well before the industrial revolution.

This article explains the potential precedent (and future impacts) of citing global warming as a cause for endangering species that could be set if the Department of the Interior agrees to list the polar bear as a "threatened" species under the ESA.

"You ask a citizen on the street, 'Who runs the Endangered Species Act?' and they would say, 'Well, the Fish and Wildlife Service, I guess.' 'No.' Sansonetti said. 'It is run by a third branch of government. It's the judges that are running ESA right now.'"

This article explains how Western officials want to rewrite federal species law based on their success at saving sage grouse habitat.

The commentary piece describes the success story of the recovery of the Grey Wolf (Timberwolf) in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. These states chose to move away from the federal approach of relying heavily on threatening farmers and property owners with heavy fines and even jail time for protecting their livestock from the great predator. By finding ways to compensate local landowners for...

This U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service news release describes the special rule created for the protection of the polar bear. It precludes activities outside of its protection zone that may lead to the incidental taking of a bear from being regulated under the Endangered Species Act.

Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement. Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct.

Burnett explains that recent pushes to list the polar bear as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act are, "...based on flawed forecasting methods and incomplete data."  Sterling explains that these are merely political efforts (U.S. polar bear populations are not declining) to force the Bush administration to take a tougher stance on greenhouse gas emissions.

Chart or Graph

J. Scott Armstrong, ultimately responsible for the graph above, testified to the Senate on how the data about Polar Bears and decreasing ice was selectively presented.

Analysis Report White Paper

In this article, Jonathan Adler looks at four recent studies conducted by various researchers and organizations that provide evidence that the Endangered Species Act (ESA) may actually be doing more harm than good to the very wildlife it purports to protect.

This report offers a detailed look at the original intentions of the ESA, the litigation procedures that accompany the act, specific case studies in which the ESA has harmed land owners, the ultimate failure of the Act to protect species, and, finally, concludes with an argument in favor of a "non-punitive, non-regulatory approach" to conservation.

Endangered species protection can be made effective - and honest - only if we recognize eight truths ignored by the failing Endangered Species Act. Among them: letting nature take its course isn't the best way to protect biodiversity; and property owners must be given an interest in protecting sensitive habitat.

"Environmental groups are intensely aware of the power charismatic species have to both capture the imagination of the public and serve as levers to emplace environmental restrictions and regulations."

This study examines private landowners' responses to the listing of the Preble's meadow jumping mouse as threatened under the ESA and finds that listing the mouse "does not appear to have enhanced its survival prospects on private land."

"Unfortunately, the bald eagle will be delisted in name only because despite the species' much hailed recovery the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has cut-and-pasted the Endangered Species Act (ESA) land-use regulations-the 'teeth' that make the law so broadly powerful-to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (Eagle Act)."

"The picture that emerges is that the ESA's role in conserving the bald eagle has been significantly overstated, the ESA may have done more harm than good, and there are a host of factors key to gaining a fuller picture of the eagle's conservation."

In reality, the protection of species at risk has been hampered by the ESA's perverse incentive and lack of prioritization.

Video/Podcast/Media

Schleibe is interviewed about the current status of the polar bear, what steps will be taken to protect it, and the role played by ESA.

Governor Dirk Kempthorne, who later served as Secretary of the Interior during the second Bush term, discusses the triumphs and failures of the ESA, and examines prospects for its future.

Primary Document

Transcript of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.

This is the text of the act, the link was provided via the organization River Network.

This press release from the DOI explains the changes that were put into affect under the Bush Administration in late 2008. As the release states, "These changes are designed to reduce the number of unnecessary consultations under the ESA so that more time and resources can be devoted to the protection of the most vulnerable species. Under the proposed rule, agency actions that could cause an...

How does the ESA impact ranchers and farmers? Sims, a rancher and president of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, testifies about the negative impact of wolf reintroduction to Yellowstone, the loss of private property rights and land values under the ESA, the cost of defending against ESA, and the misuse of the ESA to further special interest goals to land use and development...

This decision, the first Supreme Court interpretation of the Endangered Species Act, demonstrates the power and breadth of the Act. In TVA v. Hill, the Court stopped construction of a virtually completed $100 million federal dam because it would adversely impact the habitat of the snail darter, a three inch, tannish colored fish, despite the fact that Congress continued to fund the...

"The proposition of our author, then, should be reversed, and it should have been said, that they mind so much their own, that they never think enough of others. Suppose a nation, rich and poor, high and low, ten millions in number, all assembled together; not more than one or two millions will have lands, houses, or any personal property; if we take into the account the women and children, or...

Books

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