Portland State University is offering a number of controversial courses this semester, the likes of which include “Revolutionary Marxism: Theory and Practice,“ and ”Art Within Activism” (though students are also welcome to take “Exploring Buffy the Vampire Slayer”).
The “Revolutionary Marxism” course is introduced in what appears to be the syllabus:
The onset of the Arab Spring, revolts in European capitals against austerity, and the emergence of Occupy Wall Street here in the US have made the need for understanding revolutionary political theories [more] urgent than ever.The course’s instructors, Grant Booth and Wael Elasady, are both admitted socialists. They define the course’s goals as:
This course is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts of Marxist thought with an emphasis on the practical applications of Marxist Theory in local political struggle. We will focus on four major areas throughout the semester, including the Fundamentals of Marxist Theory, Marxism and Oppression, Revolutionary Practice, and The Future of Socialism. In exploring these four areas of focus, the course will compare and contrast revolutionary Marxism to Stalinism, reformist socialism, leading academic interpretations of Marxism, as well as other radical leftist ideologies. [Emphasis added]
1. Students will learn the fundamentals of Marxist theoryMoreover, students will seemingly be required to forge a “community connection” with a local community/political organization from a specified list. Some of the “approved” organizations include: Occupy PSU, Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, Occupy Portland, Portland Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions Coalition (BDS), Jobs with Justice, and the May Day Coalition.
2. Students will apply a Marxist analysis to current events
3. Students will apply Marxist theory to local political and community organizing
Similarly, the “Art Within Activism” course is described:
Rediscover your radical imagination! This course will focus on creating art within Portland-based activist initiatives, such as marches, actions, and causes different grassroots community groups are working on, like the Occupy and Decolonize movements. We will experiment with applying diverse mediums—graphic design, social practice, printmaking, and sculpture—to actions seeking to resolve diverse problems—hegemony, biodiversity loss, immigrant detention, animal exploitation, debt, insufficient healthcare, etc.
The controversial courses are part of the Chiron Studies program, where qualified students can “propose and instruct official, for credit classes” with the university.Someone at the school recently took some video of the marketing material for the courses:
The Blaze attempted to contact numerous officials in charge of approving the courses, in addition to Wael Elasady (who teaches the “Revolutionary Marxism” course), in order to confirm the course details, but we did not hear back.
That leaves a lot of unanswered questions, such as: Why is the taxpayer helping pay for these courses at a public university? With socialist professors and mandated participation with leftist groups, is the other side being presented at all?
Moreover, would Portland State University allow a “Limited Government: Theory and Practice“ course where students were forced to make a ”connection” with Tea Partiers and the NRA?
And when coupled with the likes of “Exploring Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” it’s not hard to figure out why the U.S. education system is under fire.
UPDATE: Wael Elasady, one of the professors of “Revolutionary Marxism: Theory and Practice,“ returned our call and wanted to clarify that students are free to ”apply a Marxist perspective” to any local community/political organization; the list of organizations on the syllabus are simply pre-approved.