by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Shannon Watkins of the Martin Center devotes her latest column to one particularly dubious aspect of higher education.
The supposedly academic discipline of Women’s Studies is “an arm of the women’s movement,” according to philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers. And that movement is political; political activism is at least as fundamental to women’s studies as its academic components.
As it says in the National Women’s Studies Association’s Constitution, the underlying goal of women’s studies departments is that of “transform[ing] the world” to one “free of oppression.” One can argue whether that goal is overly ambitious; it is hard, however, to argue that it is not political.
One area where this politicized agenda reveals itself in full is the euphemistically named “experiential learning” programs run by campus women’s centers (usually affiliated with women’s studies departments). Not only do women’s centers approach issues in terms of a specific ideology, they also mobilize students to put that ideology into practice.
Such blatant activism is not how academic units at public universities are supposed to conduct themselves. The purpose of education at public universities (and in some cases, private) is not to advance ideologies; rather, it is to instill students with the capabilities to come to their own conclusions through properly academic methodologies.