Lock Haven lets prof offer 'Conservatism 101' course

Lock Haven University has agreed to offer a “Conservatism 101” course in a rare victory for intellectual diversity on college campuses.

The course, which appears to be among the first of its kind, will cover “the political tradition of modern conservatism in the United States,” according to Professor Kimberly Johnson, who is scheduled to teach the course.

While the course will examine the history of conservative thought, Johnson explained that it “would benefit students from all political perspectives,” with “open discourse, application, and debate during each class period.”

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“The aim with each class meeting is to present a specific aspect of conservative theory, and then to encourage respectful discussion over the strengths and weaknesses of the ideas in question,” she added, noting that the course will cover four areas of conservative thought, those being “traditional conservatism, social conservatism, neo-conservatism, and libertarianism.”

Johnson was enthusiastic over the support she received from her department chair and the LHU administration, saying the course was given approval without delay.

“In my opinion, departments at other universities aren’t as open to a diversity of ideas, so I feel fortunate to work in an environment that encourages different perspectives,” she asserted, expressing some pessimism over the prospect of similar courses spreading to other universities.

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“It may catch on, but I doubt it. I think it speaks well of LHU to offer students a course on conservatism. We have 13 sister schools within the state of Pennsylvania, and I believe this is the first one offered within the system,” she suggested. “Perhaps since LHU made the course available to our students, others will follow.”

Indeed, the Leadership Institute noted in 2011 that at least three major universities had agreed to teach a Conservatism 101 course, including the University of Virginia, American University, and Brown University, but LHU appears to be one of the first to do so in recent years.

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