In this episode, Chris Martin (@Chrismartin76) interviews Jacques Berlinerblau (@berlinerblau), Professor of Jewish Civilization and director of the Center for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. Jacques talks about his new book, Campus Confidential: How College Works or Doesn’t, for Professors, Parents, and Students
0:00 Three factions in humanities departments
04:40 Advice for grads and undergrads in the humanities
11:20 How to repair the academy
13:30 Active learning and elite high school students
16:30 What should professors be like?
19:45 The secret weapon or creating intellectual diversity
24:00 The big fissure in the intellectual world
28:35 Does left-wing ideology resemble a religion?
“When your next college free speech controversy erupts, don’t blame liberals” (Washington Post).
Quote on the Three Factions in the Humanities:
“People like Bill Maher strangely enough or Fox News often think of American academic culture as they would think of American political culture—in American academic culture, we have red/blue, conservative/liberal, Republican/Democrat—a binary. Everything is stuffed into that binary. On a typical American college campus, in particular an elite liberal arts college campus, you actually have three factions. A tiny, deplorably small cohort of conservative scholars. Something like 2 percent of professors of English are registered Republicans. To me that’s mind boggling. You have a much larger cohort of liberals—a graying cohort of liberals. But the energy and enthusiasm and the excitement among what I would call the far Left. These might be readers of Michel Foucault. These might be readers of Jacques Derrida….My argument is they’re basically half to 60 to 70% of every major humanities department at every major college in the United States so we have to be very cautious when we blame liberals for free speech policies on campus. As far as I can tell, this doesn’t emanate from liberals. Liberals share on college campuses a lot in common with conservatives in terms of their thinking on free speech issues.”
On whether left-wing ideology is like a religion:
“Everything is different now. I’m not worried about the Left today. I’m really worried about the Right. I’m terrified about what is going on in the country post-Charlottesville…. The academic left, for all the things I dislike about them, has not shown itself to be violent or unlawful in any shape or form. Is it a religious worldview? I think the Marxists were that way in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. The Foucauldians are so hard to figure out. I just don’t understand what makes them tick.”