VIDEO: Professor goes after science of fracking

A professor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) is using his public policy class to tout his views on climate change and fracking.

In an almost 40-minute video to his online class, sent to Campus Reform from a UNCP student, Dr. Robert Schneider, a political science and public administration professor, underscored the consequences of global warming and “risks associated with fracking.” In the video, Schneider laid out directions for the students’ project over the course of the term, strictly limiting the subject matter to those two policy issues which he claimed will “have a profound impact” on the lives of everyone in the world.

“You may not think so, you may not believe it, you may have opinions that are different on that subject, but again, as I’ve told you, opinions don’t matter,” Schneider said of the two issues. “We don’t want to hear opinions. We want to deal with the data and evidence and in this case, the case with both issues, the science to understand the public problems associated with both of those issues.”

While Schneider stressed the importance of using scholarly journals as sources for the project, he made his stance on both climate change and fracking explicit, which has carried over into class activities and discussions.

Watch the video here:

In an online class discussion thread, obtained by Campus Reform, Schneider quickly dismissed a student’s request to discuss any defense of fracking despite the student’s concerns that there hadn’t been a “masters level discussion on a controversial issue.”

“Instead of us discussing the pros and cons of fracking, we are all talking about how terrible it is based upon two very biased videos,” Kevin King, a student in Schneider’s class, wrote while suggesting the class discuss recent fracking legislation in North Carolina or the economic impact of fracking.

While other students in the class responded with enthusiasm, generally saying they “appreciate” his “point of view,” Schneider’s response was less encouraging and shut down any option for debate or discussion.

“[A] distinction must be made between peer reviewed science and either industry or environmental advocacy ‘research,’” Schneider responded.

“But politics and economic interests work consistently against that relationship [between science and public policy],” he continued. “This is frequently aided by the tendency of people to see two sides to a matter where, in fact, the science shows only one side...Rather than focusing on that truth, we have false debates about matters not in scientific dispute but about matters wholly manufactured by self-interested parties.”

Schneider blamed “unrelenting PR” for “it’s [sic] exaggerations of both the need...and the benefits” of fracking. The professor said the students’ conclusions will generally not change as “facts do justify caution and careful treading much to the consternation of the fossil fuel industry.”

“We must respect all views, even as they are being imperfectly formed, and seek to attain the most objective understand of the evidence as we move forward,” Schneider continued in his post.

King told Campus Reform in an interview that he felt as though he would not be able to represent a conservative viewpoint in his project, even with the backing of scientific journals, without “fear of penalty.”

“As a graduate student I attempted to bring a differing opinion to the discussion, and was immediately marginalized by the professor who should be fostering debate,” King said. “Higher education should not be a bully pulpit pushing a progressive agenda.”

This is the second year that Schneider has used the video as an introduction to his class. He first used the video in 2013.

Schneider did not return multiple requests for comment from Campus Reform.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @K_Schallhorn