Raining Karmas & Dogmas

, Deborah Lambert, Leave a comment

When “asked by a national climate change campaign to spend a day teaching about global warming, Brown University philosophy professor, Felicia Ackerman, explains why she decided not to do so,” noted Joanne Jacobs in rightyblogs.com:

“Reason 1: Climate change is not what students signed up to study in my courses…Neither of the courses I am teaching this term has anything to do with climate change. . . . I would not pay a piano teacher for a full hour’s lesson if she spent part of that time teaching me about climate change instead of teaching me piano. My students are entitled to the same respect from me . . .

“Reason 2: I am unqualified to teach about climate change. I am not an expert on climate change. I am not an expert on how climate change might relate to philosophy. .

“Reason 3: My students can have better opportunities to learn about climate change. Brown University has physicists, geologists, chemists, biologists and engineers. . . . Why not leave the teaching about climate change to them? …One possible answer is that while many students may not be interested enough to take such courses or attend such teach-ins, these students are unlikely to get up and leave if climate change comes up in a course they are already taking on some other topic. In other words, professors should take advantage of a semi-captive audience. Is this any way to respect students?

“Reason 4: I do not think climate change is the most important social problem in the world.”

Deborah Lambert writes the Squeaky Chalk column that appears in Accuracy in Academia’s monthly Campus Report newsletter. This feature is excerpted from her most recent column.