fbpx

Blog

Drowning in BS

print
.@NotreDame sociologist Christian Smith holds that the accumulated effects of all the academic BS are contributing to this country’s disastrous political condition #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

Introduction

We reproduce below a searing indictment of American higher education by Dr. Christian Smith, the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Sociology at Notre Dame. 

During his time at Notre Dame since 2006 and before that at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. Smith has become one of the nation’s foremost and most widely published sociologists. For his imposing curriculum vitae, go here.

In “Higher Education is Drowning in BS,” Dr. Smith speaks broadly of higher education without specific reference to Notre Dame. For this reason, we did not bring this article to your attention in 2018 when it appeared, even though it would be foolish to think Dr. Smith’s views are unrelated to his experience at Notre Dame.

With permission of The Chronicle of Higher Education (copyright reserved), we publish the essay now for several reasons:

First, recent events at Notre Dame that we have catalogued evidence, to employ Dr. Smith’s phrase, a lamentable “culture of offence that shuts down the open exchange of ideas” with respect to Catholic teaching. Student supporters of the Church’s teaching on sex and gender are vilely assailed and no one does anything about it. Gender Studies impeaches the Church’s teaching and no one does anything about it.

Second, the persistent and perhaps growing dysfunction of American society invites an examination of Dr. Smith’s thesis that the dysfunction of American higher education is partly to blame.

Finally, drawing attention to Dr. Smith will open the way for us to republish shortly our bulletin about Dr. Smith’s important 2014 book about Notre Dame (“Building Catholic Higher Education”) in which he explains why it will be “nearly impossible” for Notre Dame to provide an authentically Catholic liberal arts education while pursuing its goal to become swiftly a premier research university.

For now, we quote a passage from the book directly relevant to the University’s increasingly falling into line with cultural and educational elites with respect to sex and gender questions and out of line with the Church:

The big dogs in the world of American higher education are secular and mostly secularist institutions. Harvard, Princeton, Michigan, North Carolina, and Berkeley are the models to emulate. Catholicism for most people in such worlds is something between (at best) a quaint private belief system … and (at worst) a pernicious, benighted, and oppressive hierarchy of power and oppression that should be destroyed. What the Catholic Church teaches about abortion, same-sex relationships, contraception, and other “hot button” issues is deeply offensive at most high-status institutions … where many ambitious Catholic colleges and universities wish to be accepted and respected. So these teachings are deeply embarrassing for many faculty at Catholic universities and colleges who care about the opinions of their not-so-Catholic colleagues.


Higher Education Is Drowning in BS

And it’s mortally corrosive to society

By Christian Smith | January 9, 2018

I have had nearly enough bullshit. The manure has piled up so deep in the hallways, classrooms, and administration buildings of American higher education that I am not sure how much longer I can wade through it and retain my sanity and integrity.

Even worse, the accumulated effects of all the academic BS are contributing to this country’s disastrous political condition and, ultimately, putting at risk the very viability and character of decent civilization. What do I mean by BS?

BS is the university’s loss of capacity to grapple with life’s Big Questions, because of our crisis of faith in truth, reality, reason, evidence, argument, civility, and our common humanity.

BS is the farce of what are actually “fragmentversities” claiming to be universities, of hyperspecialization and academic disciplines unable to talk with each other about obvious shared concerns.

BS is the expectation that a good education can be provided by institutions modeled organizationally on factories, state bureaucracies, and shopping malls — that is, by enormous universities processing hordes of students as if they were livestock, numbers waiting in line, and shopping consumers.

BS is universities hijacked by the relentless pursuit of money and prestige, including chasing rankings that they know are deeply flawed, at the expense of genuine educational excellence (to be distinguished from the vacuous “excellence” peddled by recruitment and “advancement” offices in every run-of-the-mill university).

BS is the ideologically infused jargon deployed by various fields to stake out in-group self- importance and insulate them from accountability to those not fluent in such solipsistic language games.

BS is a tenure system that provides guaranteed lifetime employment to faculty who are lousy teachers and inactive scholars, not because they espouse unpopular viewpoints that need the protection of “academic freedom,” but only because years ago they somehow were granted tenure.

BS is the shifting of the “burden” of teaching undergraduate courses from traditional tenure-track faculty to miscellaneous, often-underpaid adjunct faculty and graduate students.

BS is states pounding their chests over their great public universities even while their legislatures cut higher-education budgets year after year after year.

BS is the fantasy that education worthy of the name can be accomplished online through “distance learning.”

BS is the institutional reward system that coerces graduate students and faculty to “get published” as soon and as much as possible, rather than to take the time to mature intellectually and produce scholarship of real importance — leading to a raft of books and articles that contribute little to our knowledge about human concerns that matter.

BS is third-tier universities offering mediocre graduate programs to train second-rate Ph.D. students for jobs that do not exist, whose real function is to provide faculty with graduate RAs and to justify the title of “university.”

BS is undergraduate “core” curricula that are actually not core course systems but loose sets of distribution requirements, representing uneasy truces between turf-protecting divisions and departments intent on keeping their classes full, which students typically then come to view as impositions to “get out of the way.”

BS is the grossly lopsided political ideology of the faculty of many disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences, creating a homogeneity of worldview to which those faculties are themselves oblivious, despite claiming to champion difference, diversity, and tolerance.

BS is hypercommercialized college athletics and administrations sucking the teats of big money, often in the process exploiting and discarding rather than educating student athletes, and recurrently corrupting recruitment programs, tutoring services, and grading systems.

BS is second- and third-tier universities running expensive sports programs that do little but drain money away from academics, when some of their ordinary students cannot find the time to prepare for classes because they work two and three part-time jobs to pay their school bills.

BS is the ascendant “culture of offense” that shuts down the open exchange of ideas and mutual accountability to reason and argument. It is university leaders’ confused and fearful capitulation to that secular neo-fundamentalist speech-policing.

BS is the invisible self-censorship that results among some students and faculty, and the subtle corrective training aimed at those who occasionally do not self-censor.

BS is the only semi-intelligible outbursts of antagonism from enraged outsiders incited by academe’s suppressions of open argument, which primarily work to validate and reinforce the self-assured superiority of the suppressors, and sometimes to silence other legitimate voices.

BS is the anxiety that haunts some faculty at public universities in very conservative states about expressing their well-considered but unorthodox beliefs, for fear of being hounded by closed-minded students and parents or targeted by grandstanding politicians.

BS is the standard undergraduate student mentality, fostered by our entire culture, that sees college as essentially about credentials and careers (money), on the one hand, and partying oneself into stupefaction on the other.

BS is the failure of leaders in higher education to champion the liberal-arts ideal — that college should challenge, develop, and transform students’ minds and hearts so they can lead good, flourishing, and socially productive lives — and their stampeding into the “practical” enterprise of producing specialized workers to feed The Economy.

BS is administrators’ delusion that what is important in higher education can be evaluated by quantitative “metrics,” the use of which will (supposedly) enable universities to be run more like corporations, thus requiring faculty and staff to spend more time and energy providing data for metrics, which they, too, know are BS.

Ultimately, we must grasp the more dreadful reality that all of this BS in the academy is mortally corrosive of our larger culture and politics. Click To Tweet

I could continue to list much more BS that has piled up in higher education, but I have shoveled through enough already to make the point. Lest readers think this is only sour grapes, let me clarify a few facts. I absolutely love scholarly research. I am a fortunate winner in the research university system. I know it takes money to achieve excellence. I have worked to help raise and sustain my universities’ program rankings and institutional status. I have taught classes of more than 300 students. And I really love college sports, especially football, volleyball, basketball, and soccer. So naming the BS is for me actually painful and morally complicated.

But calling out the BS is not about my personal experience, limits, or feelings. It is not even only about the unconscionable fact that countless millions of students are receiving compromised and sometimes worthless college educations, as sickening as that is. Ultimately, we must grasp the more dreadful reality that all of this BS in the academy is mortally corrosive of our larger culture and politics.

Ideas and their accompanying practices have consequences. What is formed in colleges and universities over decades shows up for better or worse in the character and quality of our public servants, political campaigns, public-policy debates, citizen participation, social capital, media programming, lower school education, consumer preferences, business ethics, entertainments, and much more. And the long-term corrosive effects on politics and culture can also be repaired only over the long term, if ever. There are no quick fixes here. So I do not speak in hyperbole by saying that our accumulated academic BS puts at risk decent civilization itself.

The world is always being overrun by political, economic, religious, and social unreason, violence, stupidity, deception, and domination through sheer power. But I have long believed that, despite its flaws, American higher education should, could, and often did stand as an elevated island, a protected reserve for the practice of open inquiry, reasoned debate, critical and self-critical reflection, persuasion through argument and evidence, and genuine progress in shared learning.

Grievously, for me that belief has become implausible. Under the accumulated weight of the mounds of BS, the island has been swamped, the reserve polluted, by many of the destructive outside forces that the academy exists to hold in check and correct. Much of American higher education now embodies the problems it was intended to transcend and transform: unreason, duplicity, refusals of accountability, incapacities to grasp complexity and see the big picture, and resorts to semi-masked forms of coercion.

The most disturbing consequences of this long-term corruption are now playing out in our national political culture and institutions.

Dramatic political polarization, fake news, legislative paralysis, torrents of blatant lies told with impunity, violent radicals in our city streets, scandalous ignorance of large swaths of Americans about the basic facts of our most pressing national problems, some top officials boasting about their sexual harassments and assaults without consequence, international diplomacy conducted through schoolyard taunting and self-contradictory tweets, and the growing frustration and increasingly desperate rage of large sectors of ordinary Americans: These are exactly what develop when even the “educated” citizens of a country are for too many decades not educated well, and when the institutional centers of enlightened learning and debate become havens of ideology, intimidation, and mission drift. With academe in this condition, what hope can we have for the exercise of important social virtues in politics, law, diplomacy, the media, and the marketplace?

This is colossally tragic. But can we even comprehend tragedy anymore? I fear that, in the collective imagination of contemporary American higher education, as with our culture more broadly, tragedy itself is a category no longer recognizable. Compromising acquiescence? Sure. Late-career cynicism or fatigue? Of course. But tragedy? What is that?

No, the idea of tragedy is incomprehensible in institutions drifting in a Bermuda Triangle marked by the external-funding addictions of the STEM fields, the obsequious scientism of the social sciences, and the intellectual fads, ideological doctrines, and science-envy that captivate and enervate the humanities. And when the protagonists and victims of such a tragedy cannot even recognize their own tragic condition, the situation is even more dreadful and pathetic.

Essential to realize in all of this is that most of the BS is produced not by pernicious individuals, but instead by complex dysfunctions in institutional systems. It is easy to be a really good academic or administrator and still actively contribute to the BS. So we need to think not individualistically, but systemically, about culture, institutions, and political economies. Pointing fingers at individual schools and people is not helpful here. Sociological analysis of systems and their consequences is.

Many thoughtful people in higher education today are well aware of different piles of BS around them. Fewer seem to recognize the magnitude of the mounds of it that have accumulated and how badly they defile us. Most people involved also feel helpless to fight it, don’t want to risk careers that benefit from the status quo, or are professional boosters of the existing system and so are obliged to yammer on about how great everything is.

I too feel helpless. It seems the most I can do now is to try to preserve whatever valuable remains in undergraduate liberal-arts education. Real change will most likely happen long- term and be forced on academe from the outside against its own lumbering inertia. That will not be pretty, nor will it necessarily produce anything better. We cannot take for granted a happy self-correction. In my view, genuinely positive changes in higher education, if they ever do happen, will have to combine some forms of visionary traditionalism and organizational radicalism. We will need people with the capacity to retrieve and revitalize the best of higher education’s past and restructure it organizationally in ways that are most effective in the future.

History gives us some reason to hope that creative women and men will, over time, develop fruitful experiments and build new institutions that lead to a reblossoming of excellent higher education worthy of the name and help revitalize culture and political life. As the mounds of BS continue to pile up, the more immediate question is just how much waste, idiocy, and destruction inside and (as a result) outside the academy we will all have to suffer in the meantime.

Christian Smith is a professor of sociology at the University of Notre Dame.

This article is part of:
Top Reads of 2018
A version of this article appeared in the February 9, 2018 issue.
© 2020 The Chronicle of Higher Education 1255 23rd Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20037


Leave a Reply

 Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below. 

19 Responses to “Drowning in BS

  1. “Blessed are those Called to The Marriage Supper Of The Lamb.”

    Imagine if our answer to all that serves to undermine “The Marriage Supper Of The Lamb”, was,

    Here we hold Marriage Sacred. That would change everything.

  2. Leonard DeFiore July 16, 2020 at 11:15 am

    right on target. trending that way since the mid 1960s. Truth, which should be the greatest good in education, has been demoted; other values more important. For a Judeo-Christian perspective–presumably still operable at N–, see II Chron, chapter 7: “…if my people, etc.”

  3. James Shapio 52 July 13, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    There needs to be a little perspective on the scholarly[?] BS essay. Faculty teach three courses a semester sometimes only two. Every so often they get a semester off as a sebatical so they can refresh themselves. And when they get tenure they cannot be terminated even if they reach their mid 80s or if their courses are no longer popular enough to attract more than a few students. They have no financial concerns about the school. The administrators whose job is to keep the university attractive to students and financially viable cannot reduce faculty in spite of declining enrollments in their majors. Schools need athletic teams, which are part of student life to attract students. They need better gyms and dorms. And of course faculty need salary increases annually.

    Unfortunately, the high school graduating classes are declining each year making the higher ed enrollment environment very, very competitive.The US has multiple times more universities per capita than any other developed country. which makes the decline worse. The Trump administration will hasten the thinning out of universities by their policy of discouraging international students and by forcing those here to leave the country if they do not have a face to face classroom course. International students are almost the only students that pay full tuition. The corporate world has made a college degree essential to higher incomes which will drive demand, so most universities will continue to survive as they are, no thanks to the tenured faculty most of whom only communicate with other tenured faculty or pen essays for journals.

  4. steve martinek '71, '74 July 12, 2020 at 6:49 am

    Michael Cornelia issues a Faith-driven loving rebuke for many of us. Thank You Brother Bernard for acting as the nominal target. Our Faith and confidence and Hope must not be tenuous, or tentative, or timid in these troubled times. We know how the story ends–with the grandest of all true “commencements.” Bernard rightly points to two material facets of the dilemma facing mankind. Our problems are surely mental and political; yet they are also spiritual, attitudinal, and result from generations of deficient character formation (by Church, by Nation, by family, by ourselves). Just as God did not abandon the Jew in the desert, or the family of Noah to the flood, He will not today abandon the American Catholic to the forces of the barbarians within our walls, or the medical and societal illnesses of covid, socialism communism, or islam. PC and secularism may be in a period of ascendant power–but such forces will not prevail. We must continue to seek and see the beacon of Faith and Hope in our Catholic Church, in our American Republic and culture–and in the mirror, in ourselves. As a people, we face stronger opposition than the bondage of slavery or poverty or disease or even ignorance–these are symptoms not causes. The enemy is he who always was–satan. His tools and weapons are legion–and his skill is prodigious. Still, we know he must lose in the end because of God’s promise, and God’s integrity, and God’s Son. Be strong in your Faith, my friends. Steve

  5. Michael Cornelia July 11, 2020 at 8:51 pm

    My dear Bernard, how tenuous your faith must be to surrender to the iidea that current circumstances are “impossible to change”. How many minds did Jesus touch. Some of his words were congratulatory, some admonishing. None claimed that their thoughts were irredeemable. If your eyes see darkness, the light will be shown to you. If your eyes see the light, let him focus your direction.

    Hopeless ? Unrealistic ? Beyond rescue ?!!

    Those are NOT the words, nor spirit, nor teaching, nor expectations that Jesus used when instructing his disciples to carry on the word of the Lord. There is redemption to be found in every willing heart.

    Let the words and teachings of Christ and those who wish to espouse and proclaim his words be repudiation to the ignorant and misguided of this world. Let their earthly and temporal views be repudiated and rejected by those who are blessed. Let their teachings straighten the paths of those who misplace his word in the name of ephemeral constructs and irreconcilable beliefs

    May the misguided be redirected in his name. Amen.

  6. Bernard Westfall July 11, 2020 at 9:29 am

    He is correct in his candid and thorough analysis, but I think to imagine this hopeless situation to change is totally unrealistic. This is a mental And political disease for which there is no cure, period.

    • It is a lie from the start to call anyone a “hater” whose orientation is rightly ordered to The Word Of God Made Flesh, and thus to Christ’s teaching in regards to The Sanctity of human life from the moment of creation at conception, and the Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which is Life-affirming and Life-sustaining, and can only be consummated between a man and woman, united in marriage, as husband and wife. Woe to any Baptized Catholic or Catholic Institution who professes to be Catholic, but calls The Word Of Love Made Flesh, Jesus The Christ, a hater, for “to whom much has been given, much will be expected”.

      “Is it possible to imagine a more blatant violation of God’s Law than this”, to equate The Holy Name Of Jesus with hate?

      Jesus, I Trust In You, and not in those who would call The Word Of God “hate speech”.

  7. Michael Patrick Ryan July 6, 2020 at 7:43 pm

    Over the course of seventy-four years I have found that sociology and their sociologists spend a majority of their time manipulating words into manipulated question(s) structures wherein they hope to acquire an answer which they have already predetermined as being the CORRECT answer to their manufactured question(s).
    Courses like sociology prolong the University experience into sessions which are too long and costly.
    The only academic four-year degrees which I find to be of value to the student are from the College of Nursing and the College of Architecture and Engineering.
    Once complete these academic disciplines prepare the graduate for a real job, which pays well and that IF desired these professionals can move upward to a graduate school, i.e. nurses in Medical School or Psychology and the A&E folks into post graduate work in physics and specialized fields within Engineering.
    A degree in sociology has the ‘same value’ as does a degree in {social justice}.
    SO, Don’t waste your time or family’s money and NEVER go into debt for any non-preforming degree!
    If You DO You will Regret that decision and all your time will have been LOST for naught.

  8. steve martinek '71, '74 July 6, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Respectful reply to Katie Goryl. My Catholic Faith is strong and constant and resilient. My confidence in the USCCB, the institutional Catholic Church, the current Magisterium, and nominally Catholic universities–not so much. Your proposal, if undertaken by competent men of good faith, would have great merit. In the hands of our modern shepherds, I predict they might massage the criteria and data and reports and numbers as to claim successful implementation with perhaps as little as one or two extensions of time for compliance. In the end, the situation would not have improved at all, at all. Dire times often justify radical measures. Many universities, colleges, and high schools–and a lesser percentage of elementary schools, need to face imminent de-certification as “Catholic” and temporary debarment from using the term “Catholic” until and unless they can demonstrate substantial compliance with Faith-based criteria and metrics–not based upon self-reports but team-audits by Diocesan auditors–from other dioceses than their geographic location. “Social action” and undue indiscriminate acceptance of more than some set percentage of non-Catholic student should be discount factors–as should any embrace of “Common Core.” At least, those are my views…Steve.

  9. “Catholic universities are participants in the life of the universal Church, the local Church, the higher education community of the United States and the Civic community. As such, they ‘are called to continuous renewal’, both as ‘universities’ and as ‘Catholic'”. (11/17/99 from Catholic Bishops of US in their approval of application of Ex corde Ecclesiae.)

    As you know, Ex corde Ecclesiae was issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990 to help refine Catholic higher education.

    So, Dr. Smith & Saint John Paul II both were/are in the transformation business as applied to Catholic higher education.

    I understand those that most faithfullly comply with Ex corde Ecclesiae are on the Cardinal Newman Society list.

    To further the transformation process in Catholic higher education, what do you think would happen if every Bishop in every diocese across the United States, in collaboration with the USCCB, put in their short-term plan to get all their diocesan schools, including higher education on the Cardinal Newman Society list within two years?

  10. steve martinek '71, '74 July 6, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Elementary and secondary (high) schools offer vital but limited educational services. They teach facts, and preliminary learning skills like memorization and research and writing, and spelling, and reading and mat, as well as socialization and deportment and some level of self-control and civility. (The Robin Williams movie, Dead Poets’ Society, exemplified the dangers of seeking to expose students too early to uncontrolled or unfettered free-though untethered to reality and convention.) Catholic schools, at all levels, possess a grander overlay of mission and mandate. Historically, they impart moral and ethical values and instruct students to prepare for a lifetime quest for “Truth” supported by the one true Faith. It is daunting–and noble. Tragically, Catholic institutions of learning, at all levels, have largely abdicated the mission and mandate which one set them apart, and above, all others. Succumbing to federal and secular mandates and money, and the quest for acceptance by secular educationistas, Catholic schools and colleges have capitulated and abdicated their proper pre-eminence in the field. I have concluded we need to shrink back to our root-values if we are to avoid extinction.

  11. He’s articulated well and authoritatively what many of us see from the outside looking in. In the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t educated in a university so much as I was trained. I blame only myself. All that said, I’d like to propose a solution. It will take decades to percolate through higher education once it’s implemented but I think it has merit: We need to convert our Catholic grade schools–and most of the high schools–from places in which the students receive the same education they would otherwise get for free in generally better facilities if they were to attend public school, albeit they get to attend Mass and pray in the classroom, into places in which students are formed as people by utilizing authentic Catholic liberal curricula. There are plenty of varieties available and they aren’t that expensive to implement. This would also solve, I think, the declining enrollment “issue”. I question whether it really is an issue when so many Catholic schools are, as I stated earlier, just public schools in poorer facilities. Why pay for something that I can get for free (says a guy who paid for 65 years of Catholic school tuition for five children)? I’m speaking generally, of course. It will be almost impossible to get into the wheelhouse of the collective fleet of the colleges and universities in the U.S., to say nothing of actually commandeering the ship, and bringing the officers and crew into line with a new (old) mission of actually seeking the truth. Starting at a more foundational level will be much easier and, even if the universities and colleges take generations to re-route, at least we’ll have that many more generations of students able to think and participate well in the life of a healthy nation.

  12. donna marie schooley July 6, 2020 at 11:02 am

    I am eighty-seven years old, and I have witnessed the deterioration of our educational system from what it used to be in my day. I was the first in my family to go to college. I had to win a scholarship. My father had died in WWII, My mother was thirty-one years old, had two girls to rear, a mortgage to pay, didn’t know how to drive, and had no job because she was simply a “housewife.” I realized that education was my ticket to success, happiness, and fulfillment. I was fortunate to live in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I thrived in public school with dedicated teachers. In high school more of our teachers held Master’s Degrees than did not. I won four scholarships, three from the French Government, and an Alumni scholarship to Michigan State. I achieved my Master of Arts and went on to teach literature and language.

    I started to experience the beginning of deterioration in our schools when I came up against a professor from Columbia which I consider the hot bed of fermentation. Then a hippy professor who would not tolerate any challenge. He gave me my only C for the course to put me in my place. After several years of teaching at FAU, I was warned that I was failing too many pupils (not students.) Years later I read in the newspaper that FAU was rebuked for passing those who were below standards.

  13. steve martinek '71, '74 July 6, 2020 at 9:36 am

    What drives the tragic truths Dr. Smith decries and bemoans? Here is my hypothesis. I believe it is deep fear and dread of being exposed for ineptitude. I think it is contextualized by willful ignorance of the history and legacy of the emotional and spiritual development of mankind. These are fearful, shallow, and timid people abusing the academic process, and jargon, and government to mask their personal limitations and to “level the playing field” down to the level of their ability to compete.

  14. We need the light of truth to be shed on the state of our universities today. Thank you for this article as it confirmed a lot of what i suspected is going on in the universities today Many have become more self serving than other serving and God serving.

  15. margaretliberty July 6, 2020 at 8:36 am

    To use a “low-brow” comment. WOW! Or should it be, “POW!”?

    Dr. Smith didn’t even have to mention the professors who openly call for death to white people or admit on the first day of class, as happened to a grandson of mine, that, “I hate white people,” who do not lose their jobs. Imagine if the same individuals said that of black or hispanic people?

    We are in a world of hurt because the people invested in Marxism, who teach propaganda instead of truth/facts, are the same ones who determine who is hired and/or offered tenure. How can this be reversed without legislative action on the part of states? Which group of legislators have the will and numbers to counteract the media outrage to attempt a legislative reversal? And the ensuing outrage of the ignorant mob of campus radicals?

  16. steve martinek '71, '74 July 6, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Praise God, and humbly thank Him, for the parents of Dr. Smith. Imagine and appreciate the deep Faith which impelled them to name him “Christian.” While I find great value in the writings of manyt I would characterize as “conservative” (or archaically as “conventional”) thinkers–I am seldom overcome with a desire to meet and spend an afternoon in conversation wioth any of them. This man calls to me intellectually and spiritually. It will never happen; but I would love to spend an afternoon walking Notre Dame campus and listening to, and chatting with Christian Smith, Ph.D.. I am confident it would restore those parts of my soul which occasionally capitulate to cynicism. Thank You, Dr. Smith, and may God continue to bless You and your parents. Steve

  17. Ralph J Argen MD FACP FACR July 6, 2020 at 6:51 am

    A Titanic description of what’s happening to our education. Notre Dame should move away from trying to be A research institution like the large state facilities. It cripples our mission.

    John Stuart Mill wrote: “ The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth produced by its collision with error. ”

  18. Michael Cornelia July 6, 2020 at 6:36 am

    Finally ! Someone of higher learning who accepts the fact that American academia has been hijacked by first, Democratic, then liberal and now progressive (ne Marxist) ideology. Higher education, along with the other domains of the liberal elite (media, art, pseudo-science, post modernistic history, et. al.) have gone unchecked and unconfronted for decades. Decades will be needed to halt and reverse this pernicious ailment to our society and culture.

    Thank you Dr. Smith. If only there were mountains in South Bend, from which you, Victor David Hansen, Camille Paglia, Thomas Sowell et. al. could bellow your collective message. I’m afraid that your messages would fall on deaf ears wafting through the faculty lounges and administration buildings of American academia (it’s far too late for Father Jenkins to be enlightened about his failures but perhaps, and hopefully, they would reach the ears of the true academe. The true scientist, the true scholastic explorer, the true “intellectual”, in the classic sense, to save this great nation.

    If ever there was a need for a new Cabinet position in our political hierarchy, it is a Secretary of Higher Education.
    I nominate Dr.Christian Smith to confront, halt and overhaul this unmistakeable symptom of the decline of civilizations and empires throughout the course of human history.

    Sincerely,
    A deeply concerned citizen and son of a Notre Dame alumnus.

Comments & Questions