DENVER — The University of Colorado professors who shut down climate change debate in class have landed on the radar of a top school official, who says he wants to make sure students are being “educated, not indoctrinated.”
John Carson, a member of the University of Colorado Board of Regents, said he plans to make inquires Thursday about an email from three University of Colorado at Colorado Springs professors who advised students to drop the class if they dispute climate change.
“I have a lot of questions after reading this reported email sent to students,” Mr. Carson told The Washington Times. “We should be encouraging debate and dialogue at the university, not discouraging or forbidding it. Students deserve more respect than this. They come to the university to be educated, not indoctrinated.”
He said several constituents asked him Wednesday about reports on the email, in which professors told students that the course would be based on “the scientific premise that human induced climate change is valid and occurring,” and that anyone disputing that premise may want to drop out.
“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,” said the email posted online Wednesday by the College Fix.
The professors — Wendy Haggen, Rebecca Laroche and Eileen Skahill — are team-teaching the fall online course, “Medical Humanities in the Digital Age.”
Mr. Carson, a Republican, said he also was concerned about limits on student research based on another statement in the email: “We ask that any outside sources that are used be peer-reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change,” which falls under the auspices of the United Nations.
“If it’s accurate, the email even limits the sources of research that students can use,” Mr. Carson said. “For there to be a prohibition on debate and dialogue on a particular public policy issue at the university is certainly alarming.”
The nine-member Board of Regents, an elected body that oversees the University of Colorado system, has a 5-4 Republican majority. The board is scheduled to meet Sept. 8 at the UCCS campus.
“The meeting may be pretty timely,” Mr. Carson said.
UCCS spokesman Tom Hutton defended the professors Wednesday, describing the class as a “special topics course with multiple choices for students to take when fulfilling requirements.”
“By clearly stating the class focus, the faculty are allowing students to choose if they wish to enroll in the course or seek an alternative,” Mr. Hutton said. “Additionally, the faculty who are leading the course have offered to discuss it with students who have concerns or differing opinions.”
In their email, the professors also say 98 percent of climate scientists agree on climate change, referring to the so-called “97 percent consensus,” a figure that has been widely cited as well as hotly disputed.
The environmental group Conservation Colorado defended the professors in a Thursday post on Twitter, saying, “#Climatechange: Not up for debate @UCCS. I dig it. If 98% of scientists agree on something, it’s not a debate!”
• Valerie Richardson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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