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Queer Gardens, Pocahontas, and Prostitutes


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A new report tracks the intellectual disarray at a pricey liberal-arts college.

Eliana Johnson


What Does Bowdoin Teach? — a report released today by the National Association of Scholars (NAS) — is the most comprehensive assessment of the academic culture, customs, and values of a college conducted to date. It is a devastating appraisal. The study, authored by NAS president and former Boston University professor and administrator Peter Wood, is the product of 18 months of research and is primarily devoted to answering the question it poses.




“What impressed me most about Bowdoin was the sheer intellectual incoherence of the college,” says Wood. “Incoherence means a lot of triviality.” He traces the school’s academic decline to 1969, the year that Bowdoin dispensed with academic requirements aside from those of a student’s major. That decision has reverberated to the present, affecting “everything about the college,” he argues. It has deprived students of a common intellectual base, encouraged specialization within academic departments, and facilitated the appointment of faculty members who prioritize research over teaching.




There are also at Bowdoin the kinds of people and attitudes you might expect on a progressive and libertine campus: a valedictorian elected by popular vote, a culture that enthusiastically promotes sex as long as it is safe and consensual, a student who tells Klingenstein that “it took balls” for him (a conservative) even to show up on campus.




If Mills failed to acknowledge the legitimacy of Klingenstein’s views on the golf course three years ago, What Does Bowdoin Teach is another call for him to do so. It sets forth his case in painstaking detail and scholarly prose over 360 pages. “There’s nothing in this that consists of cherry-picking the most outrageous cases,” Wood says.




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12:00 PM - 2:00 PM





Former U.S. Secretary of Education

Washington Fellow, Claremont Institute






National Association of Scholars




Cohen Klingenstein, LLC


On March 9, 2011, several hundred students at Bowdoin College marched into the student union, their mouths sealed with duct tape. One by one they peeled back the tape and declared, “I am a Muslim woman, and I am Bowdoin.” “I am multiracial, and I am Bowdoin.” “I am Eskimo, and I am Bowdoin.” Bowdoin’s president, Barry Mills, who stood among the onlookers, said he was “moved beyond tears.”




The Manhattan Institute is pleased to welcome a trio of conservative thinkers who will present for the first time the major findings of the National Association of Scholars’ study: Peter Wood, president of NAS and principal author of the study; Thomas Klingenstein, managing member of Cohen Klingenstein, LLC, chairman of the Claremont Institute, and member of the NAS board; and William Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education and Washington Fellow of the Claremont Institute. We hope that you can join us for this exciting discussion.


I am hopping this will be covered on C-Span or The Manhattan Institute will live stream it.

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  • 10 months later...

Iced Out: We Held a Conference and Bowdoin Stayed Home

Peter Wood




On February 6 the Maine Heritage Policy Center sponsored a small conference in Brunswick, Maine. The idea was to present a follow-up to the National Association of Scholars' lengthy study, What Does Bowdoin Teach? How a Contemporary Liberal Arts College Shapes Students, by following one of its many threads. KC Johnson, one of the speakers, published an excellent account of the conference itself, "An Update on the Mess at Bowdoin." But there is more to say about the how and why of this venture.


What Does Bowdoin Teach? was an attempt to picture an elite liberal arts college in its entirety, top to bottom--curriculum, faculty, students, academic life, social life, politics, culture, sports--leaving out nothing essential, and guided by the search for what the college actually accomplishes in the minds and the lives of its students. We chose Bowdoin mostly out of accident: the same study with much the same results could have been accomplished by studying any of dozens of other elite colleges. The biggest advantage Bowdoin gave us was its size: 182 faculty members, 1,700 students. It was small enough to be studied in something approaching its entirety--though naturally we fell short, especially in areas such as admissions where the college kept close guard over its secrets.


The conference was held at the Inn at Brunswick Station, across the street from Bowdoin College. Out the window of my hotel room I could see the monument to Bowdoin's sixth president, Civil War hero Joshua Chamberlain.


Our host, the Maine Heritage Policy Center, is a right-of-center "research and educational organization" in Portland. The thread we chose from the original report was the college's emphasis on encouraging students to see themselves as "global citizens." We then set out to see if we could find scholars of high standing who would be willing to take on such a topic--and come to Maine in the middle of winter to talk about it.


It turns out that it wasn't hard at all.



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I was expecting something entirely different.....from your post header.....frankly.....I'm D-I-S-S-A-P-O-I-N-T-E-D. It was all about liberal academia!


....for Queer Gardens....I expected 'whore-ti-culture' like this:






....and Pocahontas was an American Indian girl......"How!"....I don't know....





.....and where are the prostitutes?



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