S03E15 – Utah University Diversity Statements and Goodbye Sociology in Florida

In this episode of Finding Common Battle Grounds, we tackle two legislative/governmental issues related to higher education (article 1 and article 2). First, we discuss the recent legislative initiative in Utah to ban requiring diversity, equity, and inclusion statements as part of the hiring process at public universities in Utah. As we dug into the details on this topic, it became clear that this was a Republican dog-whistle issue. The diversity statements are not about forcing new hires to sign a statement agreeing to adhere to a specific liberal ideology but rather to make sure that they are willing to teach and interact with a diverse group of people, primarily students. Since they are public universities, the faculty at those universities cannot refuse to teach someone because they are transgender, gay, or a black individual. The universities also want to make sure that they have an inclusive environment for diverse students. Banning these statements, which are not required for all new hires, will not accomplish anything other than pandering to the “anti-woke” mobs. On the second topic, we look at the removal of Introduction to Sociology from the courses that can be included in the general education curriculum at public universities in Florida. This was driven by a desire to weed out “woke” topics at universities. Ryan complicated this issue by noting that a sizable percentage of his discipline has turned to “critical sociology,” which is basically advocacy masquerading as science. (NOTE: Ryan doesn’t consider himself to be in that camp but rather the other side, which he calls “empirical sociology.”) Sociologists and most academics opposed this change by the Florida State Board of Education but would be stupid to think that the people proposing this change would be anything but happy to see sociologists in the state weeping, wailing, and gnashing their teeth. For the proponents of removing sociology, that is just further evidence that they have “poked” at woke liberals. In short, this is government meddling in higher education curriculum for no reason other than to score political points, again.

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