Monday, November 7, 2011

My Education at Parents Weekend

My wife and I traveled to Wesleyan University this past weekend to visit our son Michael, who is a junior at Wes, for Parents Weekend.

We had a great time - the weather was very pleasant for this time of year, with temperatures reaching the mid-50's by mid-afternoon while were in Middletown.

The campus, too, was in surprisingly good shape considering the fact that much of the town was without power for most of last week in the aftermath of the snow storm.

We attended a number of different lectures given by Wesleyan professors, which gave us a glimpse of what a terrific education Michael is getting. We had time to walk around campus, and also attended a football game.

In short, we got the full higher education education experience in just a couple of days.

One of the things that struck me, however, was the dearth of any passionate protest movements on campus. True, there was the usual signs protesting pollution, or conditions in rural India, but most seemed fairly perfunctory. Perhaps this is a good thing, but maybe it also reflects a student body more interested in jobs and the economy than global concerns.

I don't think this is confined to Wesleyan. According to an article in this past weekend's Financial Times titled "Harvard rebels snub Bush aide's economic class", one of the hot protest topics on campus at Harvard revolves around what is being taught in introductory Economics:

On Wednesday, about 70 students walked out of Economics 10, the introductory class Professor {former Bush economic advisor Greg} Mankiw teaches, to protest at what they called a bias towards a destructive brand of free-market economics.

"We found a course that espouses a specific - and limited - view of economics that we believe perpetuates problematic and inefficient systems of economic inequality in our society today, {said the students}. There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith's economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory."

Given my experience as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan - where the hot topics were areas like Vietnam or legalization of marijuana - the "hot buttons" on campus have changed considerably in a generation!