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Report: UT and A&M history courses emphasize race, class, and gender Print E-mail
by Will Lutz    Fri, Jan 11, 2013, 07:13 AM
A new report issued by the National Association of Scholars states that 79 percent of faculty teaching American history at the University of Texas at Austin are high assigners of course readings in race, class, and gender. The corresponding figure at Texas A&M University is 50 percent. Click here to read the report in its entirety.

The report's primary author, Richard Fonte, released the report at a news conference in Austin Jan. 10 held in conjunction with the Texas Public Policy Foundation's Annual Policy Orientation. "We found that all too often the course readings gave strong emphasis to race, class, or gender (RCG) social history, an emphasis so strong that it diminished the attention given to other subjects in American history (such as military, diplomatic, religious, intellectual history)," the report states. "The result is that these institutions frequently offered students a less-than-comprehensive picture of U.S. history. We found, however, that the situation was far more problematic at the University of Texas than at Texas A&M University."

University of Texas at Austin history professor Jeremi Suri attended the news conference, questioned the method the report used to classify readings, and authored his own statement in response to the report. Click here to read Suri's statement. "No one cares more about teaching politics, foreign policy, and military affairs more than me. ," Suri said. "... To teach the history of these subjects requires attention to slavery, American Indians, labor unions, women’s suffrage, and everything else I listed above. Politics do not occur in a vacuum. The outcomes of war are not decided only by a few smart men. Elections, like the one we just experienced, are driven by many factors that include race, class, and gender."

The NAS report contained 10 recommendations for improving US history instruction on campus. It recommends reviewing the curriculum, having the curriculum externally reviewed, hiring faculty with a broader range of research interests, keep the focus on broad survey courses at the introductory level, identify essential lists of readings, design better courses, diversify Ph.D. programs, conform better to the Texas law requiring all undergraduate students to take American history, publish better books, and depoliticize history classes. A 1971 law requires all graduates of Texas institutions to take six hours of American history and six semester credit hours of American government in order to receive an undergraduate degree. The NAS study reviewed the course readings of all required American history courses at the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University. These are public due to a 2009 law that requires universities to publish syllabi for all of its courses on its website.

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