Recently Betsy De Vos, Secretary of Education, publicly remarked on what might be understood as issues of some importance to universities and to university education and, of course, to our students. Secretary De Vos, speaking to college students at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, is quoted as follows:
The fight against the education establishment extends to you too. The faculty, from adjunct professors to deans, tell you what to do, what to say, and more ominously, what to think. They say that if you voted for Donald Trump, you’re a threat to the university community. But the real threat is silencing the First Amendment rights of people with whom you disagree.
Perhaps this was Secretary De Vos’ own experience in her undergraduate career at Calvin College (where she majored in political science and business administration), experience that took place decades ago. It’s easy (and often comforting) to rely on our own experience in making judgments about reality. Anecdotal evidence and individual experience, however, do not and cannot match scholarship and empirical evidence from the relevant sample (or universe). Our individual experience generally lacks – in multiple ways – the diversity of experience and the range of evidence necessary to make well-founded and accurate decisions.
The strength of the education offered in the Department of Political Science, and at CWRU more generally, is our reasoned reliance on the best empirical evidence available, with recognition of its data limitations. Another strength is the general diversity of the CWRU community, where individual experiences vary substantially and where discussion of those differences underscores the importance of looking beyond our own individual boundaries to recognize that those experiences are not universal and that good scholarship can inform us beyond our immediate, personal, time-bound experience
In sum, Secretary De Vos is simply wrong in this regard. No systematic evidence or replicable studies support her claim. The “real threat,” if threat there is, is to scientific endeavor and reasoning from empirical evidence. Assertion without evidence, claims based on ideology, selective use of data to support a hypothesis: these undermine the academic purpose and the core values of the university.
As I wrote in the November 23 Newsletter, the faculty of the Department of Political Science continue to challenge our students in guiding their intellectual development, in honing their political science skills of analysis and research, and in grounding their work and their ideas in the strongest values of the academy and of democracy. Our courses are not safe spaces for blather, cant, laziness, or avoidance of unpleasant facts – but they are safe spaces for intellectual endeavor. As Chair of the Department of Political Science, I will ensure that we continue to welcome all students on campus and in our classes, to the discussion of politics and government and the values that undergird our discipline.
Karen Beckwith, Flora Stone Mather Professor
Chair, Department of Political Science, Case Western Reserve University
Friday Lunch: Staffing and Organizing the Trump Presidency
March 3, 12:30-1:30p.m., KSL Dampeer Room
University of Akron Professor David Cohen will join Friday Lunch to discuss the internal organization of President’s White House and how unusual his recent organizational problems are compared to previous presidents’.
Israeli Politics from Soup to Nuts
March 6, 4:45-6:15p.m., CWRU Ford Auditorium
Gain a better understanding of Israeli political parties and issues at this lecture.
Building for Ohio’s Future: Modernizing Medicaid to Continue Ohio’s Healthcare Transformation
March 3, 12:00p.m., The City Club
Join Ohio Medicaid Director Barbara R. Sears, in discussing the Ohio Medicaid budget and plans to improve healthcare in Ohio.
March 4, 9:35p.m., Cinematheque
March 5, 6:30p.m., Cinematheque
George Orwell’s classic tale of a dystopian future chronicles the life of one man living under a tyrannical government overseen by “Big Brother.” Age 25 & under tickets are $8.
An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back
March 6, 4:30-5:30p.m., Moot Courtroom
Kaiser Health News Editor-in-Chief Elisabeth Rosenthal will discuss one of the biggest flaws of the American healthcare system: the considerable price tag.
Gulliver’s Troubles Revisited: A Perspective on the Future of the Middle East
March 7, 5:30-7:15p.m., The Union Club
Join this discussion, which will examine the future of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East under the Trump administration. Student tickets are $5.
Crossing Borders: The Role of Art in International Relations
March 7, 7:30-9:30p.m., The Happy Dog Detroit Ave.
Learn about how the arts play a part in diplomacy and the role of local and national arts organizations in encouraging global understanding. This is a free event.
Making the Transition to Adulthood: Lessons in Experience, Identity, and Inequality
March 7, 4:30-6:00p.m., TVUC Ballroom A
This discussion will address how transitions to adulthood have changed, how young people build identities as “adults,” what skills and resources youth need if they are to make successful transitions, and the sources and consequences of inequality in early adulthood.
Intergenerational Mentoring Circle: Moving from Words to Actions
March 8, 12:00-1:30p.m., TVUC Center for Women
This is a program for individuals who identify as women of color (students, staff and faculty).
The State of the City
March 9, 12:00p.m., Public Auditorium and Conference Center
Mayor Frank G. Jackson will deliver the State of the City address. Tickets are $70.
Making Practical Progress on Human Rights: An Essential Element of Sustainable Business
March 9, 4:30-5:30p.m., Moot Courtroom
This lecture will examine growing tension between human rights and globalization and explore the results of more than 30 years of significant growth and job creation in less developed countries.
Controversial Coverage: Faith and Fight to Insure Contraception
March 9, 6:00p.m., Allen Medical Memorial Library
This lecture will trace the history of the controversy over contraceptive coverage from the 1990s to the present.
March 11, 9:15p.m., Cinematheque
March 12, 4:00p.m., Cinematheque
This film chronicles the political persecution suffered by Nobel Prize-winning Chilean poet and Communist Senator Pablo Neruda after he criticized the country’s president in 1948.
Ohio Legislative Service Commission Fellowship Program
Gain experience working for the Ohio General Assembly in either the legislative or telecommunications field. Legislative applications are due April 1 and Telecommunications applications are due April 30.
Wright-Plaisance Fellowship for Study Abroad
This fellowship opportunity is for those interested in pursuing post-baccalaureate study at a university in Europe or South America. Applications are due May 1.
Ohio Citizen Action Internship
Ohio Citizen Action is accepting internship applications for the Cleveland and Cincinnati offices. Candidates must have excellent communication skills and an interest in community issues.
Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research
The ICPSR Summer Program provides basic and advanced instruction across a wide range of methodologies and techniques for research in the social, behavioral, and health sciences. The application deadline is March 31.
National Science Foundation Research Experience Program
This program provides undergraduate students experience in conflict management and peace science during an eight-week period. Applications are due April 7.
Peace and Conflict Resolution Program
This Summer study abroad program will take place in Amman, Jordan and Dublin, Ireland. Applications are due March 31.