Penn State math course covers 'imperialism' and 'cultural intolerance'
- The course claims that former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton were "guided always by the strength of character and force of intellect of First Lady Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton"
- Penn State is looking into the course, but stressed professors' right to academic freedom
A professor teaching a general education math course at Penn State University included pages of his personal opinion on politics and social justice issues in exams.
Campus Reform received copies of exams, including a midterm, from an anonymous student who was concerned by the political nature of the course material when they took Professor Marc Fabbri’s math class last spring. The course material contains large portions of political opinion that have little relevance to the course topic.
The course, “Finite Mathematics,” is designed for non-science majors and fulfills a general education requirement. The course is described by Penn State as an “introduction to logic, sets, [and] probability,” however, the take-home tests Campus Reform received appear to contain the professor’s personal opinion and few math problems.
Fabbri details several seemingly random environmental efforts in the Great Lakes as well as the 1965 Clean Water Act signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in section three of a course document titled “Would the Real Trump University Please Stand Up,” obtained by Campus Reform.
Over the course of two and a half pages, the professor gives a lengthy account of how he became aware of fracking before asking students to analyze statistics related to fracking violations.
Fabbri asks students to negate the statement “all those who enjoy religious freedom promote cultural toleration” after detailing, for nearly three pages, several academics’ condemnation of imperialism in a section entitled “Imperialism, Hubris and Cultural Intolerance: Threats to Democracy.”
The professor begins with a positive review of Democratic presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton in section two of the midterm, entitled “Red Party Politics Shifts and Cracks,” before asking students to analyze voting statistics between male and female voters during the 2008 presidential election.
“The emergence of the Tea Party played a central role in the 2008 U.S. presidential election,” the document reads. “The victor was Barack Obama who, like Bill Clinton, served as U.S. president for 8 years - the two men guided always by the strength of character and force of intellect of First Lady Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.”
Fabbri is slated to teach three sections of the course this fall.
Penn State spokesman L. Reidar Jensen told Campus Reform that the school is “aware” of the exam materials and is “in the process of looking into this situation further.”
While Jensen referenced the professor’s right to academic freedom, he noted that the university seeks to “encourage any student who believes that an instructor has acted beyond the limits of academic freedom to consult the policies and procedures in place for seeking a faculty conference and mediation.”
Fabbri has yet to respond to Campus Reform’s request for comment.
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