Higher Ed Is Stoking the Flames of the War on History

On July 4 at Mt. Rushmore, President Trump praised Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and Louis Armstrong; it was a significant political and cultural speech, comparable to Trump’s speech extolling Western civilization at Warsaw in 2017. Trump also ordered a federal project called the Garden of National Heroes, mandating the artwork to be classical and “not … Continue reading “Higher Ed Is Stoking the Flames of the War on History”


Why Students Have Turned Away from History

I taught history from 1976 through 2013 at Harvard, Carnegie-Mellon, the Naval War College, and Williams College. The 37 years of my career coincided with a drastic change in the nature of history as it is taught in our colleges and universities. That led to an extraordinary decline in student interest in history, reflected in … Continue reading “Why Students Have Turned Away from History”


Social Justice Revisionism Comes for Washington and Lee

In the fall of 2018, the trustees of Washington and Lee University voted to paper over parts of the university’s history. On the recommendations of Washington and Lee’s “Commission on Institutional History and Community,” the board voted to close off the Recumbent Statue of Robert E. Lee in the university chapel that bears his name … Continue reading “Social Justice Revisionism Comes for Washington and Lee”


Why Students Should Still Pick a History Major

Since the 2008 financial crisis, the history field has seen a precipitous decline in the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded in American colleges. As Benjamin Schmidt, a historian at Northeastern University, reported in the American Historical Association’s Perspectives, the number of history degrees awarded fell by 30 percent—from 34,642 to 24,266 in just nine years … Continue reading “Why Students Should Still Pick a History Major”


What We’re Reading: Western Culture, Groupthink, and Queer Criminology

Jenna A. Robinson, President Jacques Barzun’s magnum opus, From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, has been a revelation—of my own inadequate history education. As the title says, the book covers 500 years of Western culture from 1500 to (almost) 2000. Barzun organizes the book around four important “revolutions:” religious, monarchical, liberal, and … Continue reading “What We’re Reading: Western Culture, Groupthink, and Queer Criminology”


No Harm, No Foul in UNC Sports Scandal Course Dispute

The Raleigh News & Observer recently published a contentious exchange between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s history professor Jay Smith and vice chancellor of communications Joel Curran concerning Smith’s course “Big-Time College Sports and the Rights of Athletes, 1956-Present.” The course, History (HIST) 383, grew out of Smith’s involvement in UNC’s lengthy … Continue reading “No Harm, No Foul in UNC Sports Scandal Course Dispute”


What to Look For in Higher Ed in 2018

New Year’s Day means a time to take stock of what’s happened on college campuses. Higher education in 2017 had more of students leading campus protests, college administrators struggling to protect free speech for controversial speakers, and some politicians defending academic integrity. Some of those trends have been positive while others are, with any luck, … Continue reading “What to Look For in Higher Ed in 2018”


The One Instance Where the Feds Should Spend More on Higher Education

The federal government has no constitutional authority to spend money on higher education, to give or lend students money for it, to direct how colleges will function, or anything else. By far the best course of action would be for Congress to dismantle the Department of Education and repeal all U.S. statutes pertaining to education. … Continue reading “The One Instance Where the Feds Should Spend More on Higher Education”


Classroom Diversity and Its Mentality of Taboo

Anyone who applies for an executive or upper management position at a university these days must demonstrate a “strong commitment to diversity.” That’s because diversity, according to campus dogma, provides real educational benefits. Counting and mingling students and professors by race, ethnicity or gender is supposed to broaden perspectives and enhance classroom learning. That might … Continue reading “Classroom Diversity and Its Mentality of Taboo”


Study: UNC’s general-education core is weak

RALEIGH – General-education requirements at 11 University of North Carolina institutions are weak, according to a new study commissioned by the Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. UNC students are seven times more likely to be required to take a cultural diversity course than they are to study a foreign language, unlikely to be required to study Western history or civilization or even introductory literature, and not required at all to study United States history.