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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Objectivity Has a Poor Reputation in the Humanities, and Universities are Paying for it

...Equity studies and related fields are built on studying inequality (mostly based on group identity) and its effects on people. These fields have a symbiotic relationship with progressive activists in order to further the stated goal of equality, just as the field of chemistry has a symbiotic relationship with the chemical industry. Fifty years ago, when the civil rights act was only 4 years old and Canada still had an unwritten tradition of discouraging immigration from anywhere but Europe, there certainly was a pervasive system of inequality that would impede the success of certain groups of people. In a climate like that, there absolutely is a lot of content to for equity studies to produce. Because its necessity, competent individuals pursuing higher education would have been willing to study in this field.

Fast forward 40 years, things look a lot different. There are laws in place to prevent discrimination based on gender, race, disability, and sexual orientation. There are also hate crime laws that add additional penalty for crimes existing crimes motivated by bigotry. While still not perfect, all available metrics are trending in the direction of equality (between gender, race, and sexuality). When this inevitably happens, do the academics in equity studies just pack it up and go home? Of course not, this is their livelihood and they need to stay relevant. And if relevance is the necessity, the goal is to have a real impact.

Equity studies is indisputably less important than it was at its inception and incoming students recognize this. The other thing incoming students recognize is that a degree in equity studies and related fields are among the least marketable bachelor degrees one can hold, at a time where a high paying 9-5 career is harder to get without any technical skills. So, what does a competent student with a notion of personal responsibility do? They study something else. This leaves a field desperately in need of a rebranding and a prospect pool that is declining in quality...

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