The university where I spoke at a conference over the weekend recently closed down its departments of foreign languages and literatures. It had never occurred to me that a school could do that and still call itself a "university" (instead of a polytechnic or an institute, for example).
It's shocking to imagine that there would be an actual university (located in the capital of Canada, to make things even more bizarre) that would eliminate any possibility that it students might have to familiarize themselves with other cultures. Is this the future of higher education? Has the goal of universities now become to create complacent little robots who don't think, don't speak, don't wander or wonder but rather just produce and consume ad infinitum?
The war against the humanities started as soon as Bush ascended to power. At Yale, Bush's crony President Levin is in the final stages of implementing the program of changes that will effectively destroy the humanities at that school. I know what happens there from personal experience but I can only assume that the same changes are being introduced in other places. Unlike Carleton, Yale will not go as far as eliminating its language departments altogether (at least for now). It is, however, doing everything it can to make them as poorly funded, irrelevant, and powerless as possible.
I understand how certain forces could see what I'm teaching my students as dangerous. The main thing I'm teaching them is not to speak Spanish or distinguish between realism and naturalism. In my courses, students learn to read critically, think for themselves, formulate their own opinions, argue, and express themselves orally and in writing. Carleton University has decided it doesn't need any of this. Who will be next?