It is news to nearly no one that much of American higher education is being terribly weakened by its fast descent into woke capture. It is crippling not only the ideas being taught, but is restricting actual language itself. And the restriction of words is the restriction of thought. The two always go together because ideas that cannot be spoken and acted on are worthless.
Thankfully, many are realizing and doing something about the death of higher education beyond just complaining about it. They are lighting very bright, ambitious and hopeful torches to guide a new way to a more enlightened world. Thank goodness.
Daily Citizen has reported on the brand new and decidedly unwoke University of Austin (UATX), founded in 2021 in Texas, that is taking the pursuit of truth seriously. But UATX is certainly not a lone outlier. There are many green shoots sprouting up from intentionally tilled ground … and that is very good news for young adults and their families.
Joshua T. Katz, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has written an important new piece over at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal highlighting some of these hopeful developments in the Unwoke Revolution in secular and faith-based higher education today. Katz centers primarily on Ralston College in Savannah, Georgia. Although it was founded in 2010, that is still considered early infancy for any institution of higher education, considering Harvard was a scrappy start-up in 1636 and Hillsdale first held classes in 1844.
Katz explains that the desire for unwoke college education is in such demand today that the small size of this young college and the large pool of applicants wanting to attend there “makes admission to Ralston more competitive than to Harvard.” Why are so many students desiring to attend such a small, back-water school like Ralston?
It is their educational philosophy, hands-down. Katz explains, “students told me … they are looking for a real education: serious reading of serious books, with teachers who know their stuff and care, and in fellowship with other seekers of truth, beauty, and the good life.”
Isn’t that what any and every college or university should be doing? Unfortunately, many have strayed away from the pursuit of truth and what it means to live a virtuous life in the classical sense. Rather far too many elite institutions are stifling free thought with an absolute iron fist. This is the opposite of education. And increasingly, students are getting sick of it. Of the experience at Ralston, Katz creates a stark comparison, asking,
Which would you prefer? To enjoy [communal, candlelit dinners with your fellow students] presided over by the founding president, Stephen Blackwood, an amiable and passionate scholar of Boethius, who had by his side (but didn’t need to consult) the wonderful compendium The College Graces of Oxford and Cambridge? Or to listen to deanlets at some elite institution instruct you on microaggressions while sipping Diet Pepsi in a concrete box?
Ralston College boldly announces to all who visit its website – in all caps for emphasis no less – “TO THINK IS TO BE FREE”. They also make sure you know this institution is fully “DEDICATED TO HUMAN FLOURISHING” and that it stands as “a revival and reinvention of the traditional university” offering “a fellowship for anyone, anywhere, who seeks truth with courage.” Jordan Peterson serves as Ralston’s Chancellor.
Katz explains, “both Ralston and UATX are about building better futures through attention to the past” adding it is “also good that some new institutions are religious rather than secular.” He lists several them:
- Hildegard Collegein Costa Mesa, California, an evangelical Christian school which “exists to form young people for lives of faith, virtue, and extraordinary work” will admitting its first undergraduates later this year.
- The new Massachusetts campus of Thomas Aquinas College, a wonderfully conservative Catholic institution, opened its doors in 2019, expanding its historic Santa Paula, CA campus to the Right Coast.
- “Perhaps the most ambitious” according to Katz, is the Orthodox Christian Saint Constantine College in Houston, founded in 2016, one year after the associated Saint Constantine School serving K-12 students.
We should add to this growing list Governor DeSantis’ bold and ambitious effort to make the New College of Florida a part of the Unwoke Revolution in higher education. The New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg totally gets the revolutionary significance of this move, writing this sensational headline earlier this week: “DeSantis Allies Plot the Hostile Takeover of a Liberal College.” Goldberg explains in her first sentence, “New College of Florida has a reputation for being the most progressive public college in the state.” She then laments,
Naturally, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida wants to demolish it, at least as it currently exists. On Friday, he announced six new appointments to New College’s 13-member board of trustees, including Chris Rufo, who orchestrated the right’s attack on critical race theory, and Matthew Spalding, a professor and dean at Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan …
It is certainly not good news to Goldberg that “Rufo told me just after his appointment was announced, [that the plan] is to transform New College into a public version of Hillsdale.” Rufo told The New York Times, “We want to provide an alternative for conservative families in the state of Florida to say there is a public university that reflects your values.”
Daily Citizen thinks that this is indeed very good news, as all of these new blossoms in the Unwoke Revolution are offering parents more solid options in higher education for their young adult children to actually learn and thrive as human beings. This sure beats simply being indoctrinated as mindless, uncritical automatons, which is the way most of our nation’s colleges and universities are now going.
Long live the Unwoke Revolution.