Friday, June 13, 2008

Will Eco-U educate or indoctrinate?

"The University of Washington’s Board of Regents on Thursday voted unanimously to create a new College of the Environment,” the Seattle Times reports, though it is nothing at this point but a “shell” and the concept has encountered resistance from “some state legislators and faculty.” The source of that reluctance is not well explained in the story: One regent seems to write it all off as mere institutional rigidity and resistance to change.

But perhaps some of the more serious, objective scientists on campus don’t want to be associated with an institution that could quickly become the College of Environmentalism, rather than the College of the Environment, polluting pure science with public policy-making. Perhaps some fear that green ideology and sensationalized science will in time come to taint everything the department does.

Scientists should be scientists. Missionaries should be missionaries. But in the name of “saving the planet,” some radicals seem determined to co-opt science and conflate the two. Fear of this might help explain why “faculty in four out of the six schools and departments that would form the new college, including the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, have rejected the idea in advisory votes," according to the Times. “Some are concerned part of their research wouldn't fit within the mandate of the new college.”

A college with a “mandate”? That alone should give one pause.

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