We are just back from the college retreat, in which we discussed the dire state of the environment and the junior faculty drank immense quantities of wine without visible signs of incapacitation.
It did not bother me that the environmental ideologues expressed the opinion that environmental awareness be both a required course and also a component of every single course taught on campus. It is their duty to argue this sort of thing. But it did bother me — a lot — that my colleagues in the humanities did not rise as a body against them, for this is our comparable, oppositional duty. Every single humanities professor at the retreat should have said, as with one voice: Take all available funds to build solar panels. Raise consciousness in any way you can. Take away our parking lots, cut our air conditioning, and fine us if we don’t recycle. BUT HANDS OFF OUR CLASSES.
Two or three professors did say gentle, elegant words about the importance of reading old books with no immediate relevance to students’ lives. But many people in the room, including many professors in the humanities, did not seem to understand or even find a conceptual place for this argument. This depressed me.