Scholars: Campus ‘Sustainability’ Indoctrinates College Students
Last March, the National Association of Scholars issued a groundbreaking report causing a splash on campuses and within the progressive movement.
“Sustainability: Higher Education’s New Fundamentalism” is a comprehensive expose of an ominous grab bag of progressive ideological causes bleeding into more and more college courses. Rachelle Peterson, one of the study’s authors, was surprised to find “how well sustainability was entrenched in the college curriculum — not just in sustainability courses, but in English and history classes.”
The reports’ authors, Peter Wood, the president of NAS, and Peterson, say most people mistakenly believe sustainability is about global warming or a benign form of environmentalism.
Yet, the report and this exclusive 39 minute video interview, expose how progressive activists are swallowing up a host of issues — including gay marriage, raising the minimum wage, #BlackLivesMatter and ending capitalism — as being within the “sustainability” umbrella. NAS’s report details “an ideology that demands new limits on economic, political and intellectual freedom as the price that must be paid to ensure the welfare of future generations.”
To NAS, the whole movement embodies a menacing shift from the very purpose of higher education – that of pursuing truth and offering a forum for freedom of expression. Although the report takes no position on the science of global warming, Wood believes “there’s something amiss when the university turns itself into a source of doctrine rather than a source of inquiry.”
NAS has labeled sustainability as the “new fundamentalism, because it is a movement that brooks no doubts about the truth of its basic propositions.” In fact, Peter Wood reminds us that instead of welcoming substantive challenge, the loaded and offensive term of “denier” is widely thrown at any who dissent from the orthodoxy of sustainability.
Using fear and intimidation to silence dissent is a red flag, according to Wood.
Wood explains how the elite decided they wanted “to make it look like a student movement, but it isn’t really.”
Starting with a 1986 United Nations report, Wood says the UN and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued five apocalyptic reports on the topic as “the drum major.” The unfortunate problem, he says, is that “for the last 18 years, there has been no measurable global warming, unless you really play havoc with the way the data is collected or reported.”
But, Wood says, “this has not stopped the movement from welding itself to the idea of imminent catastrophe.”
The report details the beginning of this manipulative campaign with “a couple, a summit and a new idea.” The “couple” is John Kerry and Teresa Heinz, who went to the 1992 UN Summit and returned with a sweeping cultural project. Knowing campuses are hotbeds of activism and cultural change, the report exposes Kerry/Heinz plan to launch the sustainability movement throughout college campuses with a new organization, Second Nature.
This organization is the home of a public pledge, now signed by 695 college presidents, who promise to promote sustainability in a host of manners with students, professors and administration of colleges.
Colleges were incentivized to buy into this ideological fad, a fad that happens to promote cultural Marxist theories the United Nations wants the West to adopt to “save the world.”
Surprised at the dearth of information on costs and benefits to sustainability projects on campuses, NAS did a comprehensive case study of how Middlebury College spends money on sustainability. They detail how the college spends $4.9 million a year on sustainability. The report projects that, if all those campuses who have pledged to sustainability with Second Nature, the national cost to these campuses would be at least $3.4 billion a year – all with questionable results.
Asked what the stakes are, Wood says, we can see it in our politics today. Obama’s appeal for expanded regulatory authority to address global warming assumes the support from these same college students who are embracing the sustainability campaign. NAS worries that America’s youth are being “nudged” to think exclusively within this set of doctrines, without demanding evidence or rigorous inquiry.
Wood notes that in light of the EPA’s Colorado River disaster, sustainability is “diverting from real problems to fantasy problems.”
The reaction to the NAS report of raising the alarm has been one of relief since “the political and intellectual class has been virtually silent” about the ominous signs of this sustainability movement, Wood says.
As for who is leading the sustainability movement, the authors highlight two individuals. One is the controversial activist and Middlebury College professor Bill McKibbon. His entity, 350.org, according to Wood, is behind the divestment from fossil fuel movement that 37 colleges and universities have agreed to already.
Also discussed by Ms. Peterson is Naomi Klein, a former union activist. Klein promotes radical ideas to reshape our society and the economy in her book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.”
Peter Wood, an anthropologist, has been president of the NAS for the last eight years. Rachelle Peterson, his co-author recently graduated from King’s College and is a NAS research associate.
For more on NAS, go to their website here. In October, another related report on the divestment campaign being waged across the nation will be issued by NAS by Peterson. She also wrote this New York Times op-ed on the subject recently.
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