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Support Defunding Area Studies

Reader comment on item: Defund Middle East Studies

Submitted by Nancy (United States), Feb 24, 2004 at 11:41

I served as an elected trustee for 20 years on a large community college board which did have authority and responsibility for developing policies, including but not limited to criteria for academic programs. I had the opportunity to be involved at state, national and international levels and know for a fact that not all educational institutional governing boards are that careful about having specific policies for substance and content of academic programs.

And I served for many years on a Congressman's (retired) Educational Advisory Board. And on other advisory boards as well and I agree with all you have said, they have no authority and can simply make recommendations.

I would support defunding the area studies. I don't believe it is necessary to have special funding for such programs. Many of these programs which came under the auspices of area studies are absolutely absurd even outside of the area of international studies.

From my experience the "area studies" by and large ended up supporting a specific social, cultural or political ideology. An advisory committee would be better than nothing but I would rather see it defunded. That it would not in any way impact any quality of education or diversity in academic programs.

Earmarked as you suggested for a program that had specific federal guidelines which would eliminate subjective discretion at the university level. The problem is that different states have different standards for academic programs for public institutions and private and proprietary schools are not even required to meet those. The only way to insure conformity would be if the federal government established much clearer criteria for how and what such funds could be used. As you said --accountability.
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