University of Minnesota Class Will Criticize Institution’s ‘Prejudice’

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The University of Minnesota is will offer a class this fall criticizing the institution for what some call its history of racism and antisemitism. “Prejudice and Protest at the U of M” will be taught by a professor who believes that “historical narratives or sites of memory perpetuate systems of domination by silencing certain perspectives and stories.”

According to a report by the university’s student newspaper, the University of Minnesota will offer a course this fall that will examine the institution’s alleged history of bigotry.

The course, which is entitled “Prejudice and Protest at the U of M,” will cover the institution’s historical role in “eugenics, racism, and anti-Semitism.” In 1938, the University of Minnesota established The Dight Institute for the Promotion of Human Genetics, an academic center that studied the discredited science of eugenics.

Professor and History Department Chair Elaine Tyler May said that the course was created in response to the recent discussions on campus about what are considered to be the university’s historical misdeeds. “There has been much discussion and controversy recently over the University’s history, particularly in regard to questions about building names,” May said. “We believe that this controversy has opened a discussion on campus and in the wider community about issues of historical memory, accountability, and how the University should confront and reckon with its past, even parts of the past that are not admirable.”

The course will be taught by Professor Joseph Haker, who believes that the course will contribute in a meaningful way to the current discussion about race and social issues on campus.

“I think the connection between all of this is that my research and teaching often deal with the politics of writing and memorializing American history — specifically, how historical narratives or sites of memory perpetuate systems of domination by silencing certain perspectives and stories,” Haker explained. “My hope is that it will make a meaningful contribution to ongoing discussions about how the University can memorialize its past in a way that is consistent with the values it claims to uphold in the present,” Haker said.

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