Thursday, February 21, 2013

Give me liberty, whatever it is

In what might be a first in the nation, the University of Illinois Springfield has established an academic program called Liberty Studies.

Students won’t be able to major in the subject, but the decision by the campus senate last Friday to establish Liberty Studies as a minor was not without controversy. Critics questioned whether the program will be more an attempt at indoctrination than education, with writings from conservative icons such as Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman eclipsing other points of view.

Not to worry, supporters say. Liberty means lots of different things to lots of different people. Gandhi, for example, had plenty to say about liberty, says Eric Hadley-Ives, chairman of the university’s liberal and integrated studies department that created the course of study. There is also room for Marxists and anti-imperialism, he said.

Hadley-Ives said that he knows of no other U.S. university that has developed Liberty Studies as a course of academic inquiry. Most, if not all, of the courses needed to complete the program are already in place. The creation of Liberty Studies is part of an effort in his department to develop “interesting” minors, Hadley-Ives said, and programs on film or sports could be coming next.

Liberty Studies was featured by the Illinois Times on February 21, 2013.

Read the article online