- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

DENVER — The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is coming under fire after three professors warned their class that there would be no debate on human-caused climate change and that any students who disagree should drop the course.

The professors, who are team-teaching the fall online course Medical Humanities in the Digital Age, issued the memo after some students expressed concerns about the first online lecture on climate change, according to the College Fix, which obtained a copy of the email.

“The point of departure for this course is based on the scientific premise that human induced climate change is valid and occurring,” said the professors. “We will not, at any time, debate the science of climate change, nor will the ‘other side’ of the climate change debate be taught or discussed in this course.”

“Opening up a debate that 98% of climate scientists unequivocally agree to be a nondebate would detract from the central concerns of environment and health addressed in this course,” they added.

For those who disagree with the course’s premise, “we respectfully ask that you do not take this course, as there are options within the Humanities program for face to face this semester and online next.”

The report on Wednesday generated hundreds of comments critical of the professors’ decision on the College Fix website.

“If these professors feel they have such a case for man-made global warming, shouldn’t they be able to take all comers?” said Douglas J. Hale, an assistant professor at Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Missouri. “Perhaps they aren’t qualified to defend it and simply choose to eliminate the debate from their curriculum. How sad.”

University spokesman Tom Hutton said that the faculty had clearly stated the “class focus,” which allows students “to choose if they wish to enroll in the course or seek an alternative.”

“Additionally, the faculty who are leading the course have offered to discuss it with students who have concerns or differing opinions,” Mr. Hutton said.

An online reading list posted by the professors — Wendy Haggen, Rebecca Laroche and Eileen Skahill — shows that the course also plans to address the “health effects of fracking.”

The course’s reading includes articles by EcoWatch, Frack Free Colorado, and Physicians for Social Responsibility as part of a section on “how marginalized communities (in this case class disparities) disproportionately suffer in our energy consumptive society in the age of climate change.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting highly pressurized liquid deep into sedimentary rock formations to loosen oil and natural gas deposits. The process, which has propelled the U.S. industry to world dominance in natural gas production, is staunchly opposed by the environmental movement, which has accused fracking of fouling groundwater and causing minor earthquakes in some areas.

Even so, the EPA released a preliminary study last year showing “no widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water” from fracking.

Several Colorado communities have voted to ban fracking, but those decisions were later overturned in court. Environmentalists led by Food & Water Watch failed to gather enough signatures earlier this week to place two anti-fracking measures on the November ballot.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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