A cultural shift is taking place that affects all aspects of American life. Although difficult to define, it generally takes the form of an emphasis on what is known as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), critical race theory, awakening, anti-racism, and the like. Various academics and writers have sounded the alarm about its anti-intellectual and illiberal aspects. Heather Mac Donald has shown how she has impregnated University. Is there any reason to be suspicious?
One might suspect that the new ideology only affects intrinsically political areas of study, such as Government and History. But, in fact, it has infected all areas, including science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Below is a sample of new policies at Harvard that reveal how this ideology is affecting STEM education.
Just a few clicks from the home page of the prestigious Harvard Medical School, the following are among its “anti-racism initiatives”: “We will develop new classes for masters and doctoral students to recognize the ways in which racism it’s rooted in science. ” What the heck does it even mean to say that racism is “embedded” in science? Sure, it has been haunted by imperfect people, but science is the search for universal truth. It cannot be racist in itself. At best, these classes will simply be a waste of time. At worst, as the language above suggests, they will attempt to indoctrinate students by teaching them that they and the medicine they practice are inherently racist.
Not even mathematics, the most rigorous and least ideological of the STEM disciplines, is unscathed. Harvard’s math department is implementing last year’s city council suggestions on “diversity and anti-oppression.” It is suggested to stop requiring the GRE for graduate admissions and, surprisingly, “reform the culture and content of Math 55” for the sake of “promoting fairness.” Now, Mathematics 55 It is known as the most difficult undergraduate math class in the country; some years, more than half the class does not finish. The rationale behind these suggestions is unmistakable: There aren’t enough successful women and minorities in the department, so let’s lower the bar to make our classes and programs more diverse. Such thinking has become hauntingly common. It is both condescending and an open admission that diversity is more important than rigorous education. Is it unfortunate that some years Math 55 does not have women? Maybe. But that’s preferable to encouraging students to take it and not be successful or lowering the standards for everyone.
One last example, this time from the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS). Buried on page 17 of 37 SEAS Strategic Plan for Diversity, Inclusion and Membership It is recommended that a “comprehensive training program” be created for all SEAS members to address “prejudice, privilege, inclusive leadership, gender identity, etc.” including inviting speakers and internal training. But what does this have to do with engineering? Naturally, they forget to mention the cost of such a program or how the core mission of SEAS is progressing.
The above examples – and many more are easily found – taken together, paint a disturbing picture of Harvard’s perspective. Diversity is more important than a rigorous education.
What will be the result of all this? Students and teachers will be recruited they are not prepared. Standards of academic rigor will be lowered. Millions will be spent supporting a bloated bureaucracy of deans and administrators whose main job is to tell others they are racist. Instead, the time that could have been spent studying and researching will be spent on DEI trainings. In general, the quality and prestige of Harvard University will diminish. Rational inquiry and the scientific method will be sacrificed to the new idols: diversity, equity, and inclusion.
And these examples are only taken from publicly available information; one shudders to think of how class content could be — or has already been — perverted as DEI infects the classroom.
Combating DEI’s pernicious influence on STEM education at Harvard will not be an easy task. It is already ingrained in the university. But as a first step, I suggest the following: Advertise information about how much money is being spent on DEI programs rather than the true goals of the university: education and research. Let students, faculty, and the public see, for example, how much money goes to the speakers selling ideological nonsense, the consulting firms developing new DEI initiatives, and the staff running them.