Nearly 700 University Professors Sign Letter Opposing Courses on US History

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Apr 27, 2023

UNC-Chapel Hill

Nearly 700 faculty members of the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill have signed a public letter opposing a proposed legislation that would make it mandatory for university students to enroll in courses on the origins of the United States.

The public letter, which was signed on Tuesday (April 25, 2023) by a group of 673 UNC Chapel Hill professors, states the new courses and another measure in the North Carolina House of Representatives violates academic freedom and replaces “ideological force-feeding for the intellectual expertise of faculty,” reports.

According to the new legislation, House Bill 96, students would have to take a three-credit hour course on the US founding documents. As part of the course, students would be obliged to study materials such as the following:

  • The US Constitution
  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The Emancipation Proclamation
  • Federalist Papers (at least five essays)
  • Letter from Birmingham Jail by Dr. Martin Luther King
  • The Gettysburg Address

To complete the course, students would also need to pass a test related to the aforementioned founding documents, including, among other things, their authors’ perspectives.

“Our leaders continue to disregard campus autonomy, attack the expertise and independence of world-class faculty, and seek to force students’ educations into pre-approved ideological containers,” the letter reads.

It further points out that academic freedom principles and shared governance, which have contributed to UNC’s success in public education, should be protected.

In their letter, academics note that House Bill 715, officially known as the Higher Ed. Modernization & Affordability Act will abolish tenure for future faculty at the University of North Carolina and its affiliated campuses.

Additionally, it would set minimum class sizes and make it mandatory for colleges to unfold all non-instructional research conducted by the higher education staff at the university.

Professors said that measures, if enacted, will cause more damage to the reputation of UNC and the entire state of North Carolina.

“If enacted, we believe that these measures will further damage the reputation of UNC and the state of North Carolina and will likely bring critical scrutiny from accrediting agencies that know undue interference in university affairs when they see it,” the letter adds.

House Bill 96 successfully passed through the North Carolina House in March, and has progressed through the state Senate. All Republicans and two Democrats voted in favor of the measure.

Founded in 1789, UNC is a leading public university located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, one of the oldest in the country.

Image source: the Twitter account of UNC-Chapel Hill

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