Free Markets, Free People

“Sustainability” – it marks the change from eduction to indoctrination in academia

Remember this?

Traditionally, academic disciplines conveyed a body of knowledge to students: chemistry, biology, history, literature, foreign languages, philosophy, economics and so on.

And what colleges and universities then did was teach critical thinking and the application of that knowledge taught in those traditional disciplines.

But no longer:

About 25 years ago, American higher education was swept up in the identity studies fad. A great many colleges and universities created courses, departments, degree programs, and related administrative posts in Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Latina/o Studies, Queer Studies, and others.

Few college officials could resist the loud demands for that expansion even though it diverted funds from serious academic uses. Giving in demonstrated their fealty to a host of “progressive” notions about social injustice and oppression, while saying “no” would badly tarnish a college leader’s liberal halo. A Hobson’s Choice.

Giving in to that has led to this:

And now there is a new fad rampaging across the college landscape—sustainability. For the last ten years, this mania has been gathering momentum because, like identity studies, sustainability pushes the hot buttons for leftist academics: environmentalism, anti-capitalism, salvation through liberal activism, and the chance to hector all those wrong-thinking people. It’s almost irresistible.

The problem, however, is that sustainability isn’t an academic discipline, ” it’s an “ideology that unites environmental activism, anti-capitalism, and a progressive vision of social justice.” Like a religion (hence the reference to fundamentalism), sustainability never questions its tenets. It posits them and even has “pledges” for students and school officials to adhere to. And the courses that go into the sustainability curriculum are far more like preaching than teaching.”  Or so a study from the National Association of Scholars claims.

And yes, the study refers to “sustainability” as a sort of fundamentalism.

What other sorts of courses do students take in the sustainability curriculum? It’s a hodge-podge, including “trash studies,” “environmental poetry,” and my favorite, ”Small Spaces Studio” where students learn how best to live in mini-spaces. Frequently, courses link some “identity” belief with sustainability, such as that “patriarchy” is the enemy of sustainable life and therefore must be ended.

Most often, however, courses involve the supposedly unquestionable science of global warming and impending catastrophe. There are plenty of serious questions for academic study here. Wood and Peterson write:

“Is the climate really changing? In the direction of global warming? Because of human activity? And if the answers to these questions are ‘yes’ are the interventions proposed by sustainability advocates plausible responses? These are key questions, but the sustainability movement does not welcome them.”

The sustainability movement isn’t interested in the kind of analysis that scholars bring to controversies. It wants zealots, such as the “eco-reps” now employed on many campuses to push the agenda. Recycling, for instance, is always advanced as an imperative for saving the planet. There are trade-off questions about recycling that have caused many people to conclude that its costs often exceed its benefits, but students are not encouraged to think about them.

Sustainotopians (as the authors call them) don’t want doubts about their creed seeping in. As the report documents, when students dare to question the beliefs that undergird sustainability, they’re often treated in an uncivil, unscholarly fashion. That’s what happens when true believers take charge of education; a “you’re with us or you’re against us” mindset shoves aside reflective inquiry and discussion.

It’s bad enough that there are openly doctrinaire sustainability courses, but at least students can avoid them. Frequently, however, sustainability precepts are smuggled into other courses, where, Wood and Peterson write, “the unsuspecting student meets it not as a tenet to be discussed, but as a baseline assumption on which all subsequent scholarship and dialogue rests.”

George Will took notice of this study as well.

The word “fundamentalism” is appropriate, for five reasons:

Like many religions’ premises, the sustainability movement’s premises are more assumed than demonstrated. Second, weighing the costs of obedience to sustainability’s commandments is considered unworthy. Third, the sustainability crusade supplies acolytes with a worldview that infuses their lives with purpose and meaning. Fourth, the sustainability movement uses apocalyptic rhetoric to express its eschatology. Fifth, the church of sustainability seeks converts, encourages conformity to orthodoxy and regards rival interpretations of reality as heretical impediments to salvation.

As Will points out, this is simply political correctness repackaged.

He goes on:

They see [sustainability] as indisputable because it is undisputed; it is obvious, elementary, even banal. Actually, however, the term “sustainable” postulates fragility and scarcity that entail government planners and rationers to fend off planetary calamity while administering equity. The unvarying progressive agenda is for government to supplant markets in allocating wealth and opportunity. “Sustainability” swaddles this agenda in “science,” as progressives understand it — “settled” findings that would be grim if they did not mandate progressivism.

And progressivism  mandates authoritarianism.  It always has and it always will.  The point is to make it as palatable as possible until it can be established.  One way to do that is through indoctrination.  Sustainability is nothing more than that if you consider how it approaches the subject in a strictly unacademic way.  No one is taught to think for themselves or actually weigh “evidence” – the demand is they believe what they’re fed and act on it.

The very definition of propaganda.  And indoctrination.

However, not all is lost.  Will says there is a silver lining to this cloud:

There is a social benefit from the sustainability mania: the further marginalization of academia. It prevents colleges and universities from trading on what they are rapidly forfeiting, their reputations for seriousness.

I quit considering them to be serious quite some time ago.  What I am enjoying is the entertainment value as they increasingly are hoist on the petard of their own making concerning identity studies and now sustainability.  Both seem to be synonyms for abject stupidity masquerading as academic pursuits.  At some point, the whole house of cards has to come down – especially when consumers realize that they’re being robbed by colleges and universities who are supposed to be teaching real academics instead of this repackaged political correct ideology.



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14 Responses to “Sustainability” – it marks the change from eduction to indoctrination in academia


    Well, poor ol’ Nanny Bloomers has completely lost his mind.

    Note the language, and the unashamed resort to mob rule. All “in a good cause”. This is where we’re headed if we don’t successfully fight these delusional fascists.

    • Proving that having money and having brains aren’t always the same thing.
      And often managing to get a lot of money without having any brains is actually possible.

    • I love it when people forget that mob enforcement is a two-way game

  • All of this progressive religion always seems to harken back to “peak oil” (which fracking has moved further out into the future).

  • Again, the cure for all these perversions of the university ideal is simple but not easy.

    Just return to the ideal. Hard. With extreme prejudice.

    NO university should be sponsoring…especially with ANY money…ANY on-campus “interest group”. You want a club, interest group, students-for, what-the-fluck-ever? Fine. You have an entire world off campus to form up and meet. Go for it. Raise and spend YOUR money. Solicit funds from the rest of the universe…all good. But NEVER a dollar from “student fees”. EVER.

    • Raising your own money? Sounds suspiciously capitalist/conservative/libertarian/racist/sexist. Please check your privilege at the door of Room 101.

      • Dude! In room 101 they make me BUY the rats…!!! I ain’t buying no steeekin’ rats.

  • Pity none of these idiots are particularly interested in the sustainability of the United States as a sovereign nation of laws.

    Oh, right, not worth sustaining, the very definition of all that is wrong – capitalistic, imperialistic (sigh, I do miss all the colonies we created now that our modern day Rome has withdrawn from the former far flung boundaries and borders of the empire….), sexist, patriarchal, etc, etc, etc,

    Wouldn’t want to sustain THAT, though what the boobureoisie think they’re going to get in it’s place – oh, right, they AREN’T thinking are they, that’s the whole point.
    Sorry, my bad.

  • Can anyone tell me, since man is evil and not a natural result of nature, what we’re trying to sustain?

    Once we’re gone the ‘jungle’ will return – ask the Mayans, ask the guys who built Angkor Wat, the Anasazi, the builders of Machu Picchu, etc.
    We don’t even rate a geological eye blink.

    What we should do is write some protest songs talking about ‘giving it all back’, whatever ‘it’ is, and presumably to the Neanderthals. Then we make a boodle of money from our social and environmentally conscious followers
    and, uh,
    keep it.

    • Hey, OwlGore did it with a movie, and a MOVIE is one of the least “sustainable” undertakings I can think of. HUGE carbon footprint, and you add to that with the promotional tour, etc.

      But it won him fame and fortune among a certain, stupid, easily gulled audience. The Elmer Gantry of the druid religion of the Collective. Except he got away with the grift.

  • Small Spaces Studio” where students learn how best to live in mini-spaces.

    —–Every so often, the media tries to ignite the small house “fad” and it amuses me to no end.

    Let these idiots live in shoeboxes, that much more space for me and mine

    • Shark, it’s your duty to the planet to live like a Japanese assembly-line worker. And eat like a NORK. Oh, and remember that Sheryl Crow toilet paper thingie…? Yah. Ain’t happenin’ here, either.

      • Big house, big car, big steaks for dinner – that’s how my family likes to roll.

        • American STYLE…! I loves it. If I’m gonna live a bit cramped, it’ll be on a sailboat or an RV.