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Columbia Missourian

Calif. college offers degree in activism

By John Merrill
May 10, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT

Just heard that New College in San Francisco is beginning to offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Activism and Social Change.

Can you imagine? I can — especially when it’s happening in California. But it may not be a bad idea, and it doesn’t cost but some $6,000 a semester. Come to think about, though, I wouldn’t have thought California students needed to take a course in activism.

It seems to come naturally out there.

I understand that there will be quite a lively curriculum, with such courses as “The theory of anarchy” and “How to gum up the works.” Some of the professors will lecture from campus trees where they are chained. Others will run constantly about the campus minding everyone else’s business. Still others will have animals in their classes as well as people. It should be interesting.

They probably already have their curricula set up, but I could suggest a few courses: “Beating the Bushes,” “Dislodging the Capitalists,” “Peace Offensives,” “Swimming Upstream,” “Tree-Hugging,” “Freeing the Prisoners,” “Eliminating Insecticide,” “Constructing a Mouse House,” “Singing with the Birds,” “Bringing in the Sheep,” “Euthanasia and Youth in Europe,” “Worms and their Contributions,” “The Art of Being Nothing,” “Love Without Marriage,” and “Emasculating the Masculine.”

So far as I ascertain, Columbia College and Stephens have no plans for such degrees, but ideas often spread eastward throughout the academic community from California. I would think, however, that such study could be held as extracurricular activities. But then, a degree and a diploma may be considered necessary for a bona fide activist.

As for MU, I would suggest a counteractive degree — one in “Passivism and Social Stagnation.”

It could be an all-encompassing degree cutting across disciplines and even leading its students into graduate research of a genuinely useless nature. Let me suggest some courses for this degree: “Sleep and Class Attendance,” “Motionless Moving,” “Talking Without Thinking,”

“Three Dimensions of Inactive Intervention,” “Defensive Offense,” “Hearing Without Listening,” and its sequel, “Watching Without Seeing,” “Status Without Quoing,” and “Agreeing and Well-being.”

If the reader thinks some of these suggested courses are strange, just pick up any university catalogue and look at some of the real listings.