RI Students Must Watch 'Inconvenient Truth' to Graduate

July 7, 2008 - 7:06 PM

(CNSNews.com) - To receive a degree from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, students are being forced to watch "An Inconvenient Truth," the documentary on global warming produced by former Vice President Al Gore.

The science class requirement has prompted one conservative student to declare that "we should stop calling these schools 'bastions of knowledge' since they're really bastions of leftist thought."

The controversy at Roger Williams University (RWU) in Bristol, R.I., began the week before Earth Day, when the professors teaching the laboratory portion of "Core 101: Science, Technology and Society" required their students to watch Gore's Oscar-winning film in class.

The course is one of 12 that students at the university must take in order to graduate.

However, Dana Peloso, an RWU junior and president of the school's chapter of the College Republicans, sent a letter questioning the course requirement to Jeffrey Hughes, assistant dean of marine and natural sciences.

"With the issue of global warming being such a highly politicized topic, with the scientific community unsure if global warming is man-induced or part of the natural cycle of the earth, do you think that it is intellectually honest to only show the alarmist viewpoint?" Peloso asked.

"If the movie is still shown, what plans are there to incorporate the ideas of leading global warming skeptics into class discussion?" he added.

In his email response, Hughes stated that "I only recently saw 'An Inconvenient Truth' and have to think that it's an ideal subject for a Core lab," because "the point of Core is to inform students of scientific principles and help them make decisions on issues with a scientific basis in their everyday lives."

"After an initial and heated debate, scientists no longer question whether the atmosphere is being warmed due to human activities and instead are increasingly impressed with the speed and impact of the process," Hughes wrote. "I repeat: there is no doubt that we're warming the earth and that a continuation of our activities will lead to profound changes.

"Penguins, polar bears and your unborn children have no vote in this. They must live with decisions we make today," the assistant dean said.

"As educators, we're charged to encourage your intellectual growth," Hughes added. "That can (actually, will) be uncomfortable at times, and we're also here to help you deal with that discomfort. It's truly what makes being a human such a joy, privilege and challenge."

Peloso told Cybercast News Service on Tuesday that his fellow students have reacted to the situation in one of two ways.

"Those who understand that there are multifaceted points of view" are "really troubled by this," he said. But others "are so naive" that they take Gore's position "as gospel, the final word on global warming. They see Al Gore is a former vice president, so it's got to be true."

The RWU junior approached other members of the faculty and staff regarding the matter, but "I can count on one hand the number of conservative professors I actually know of" at the university, he stated.

Peloso also sought assistance from the conservative Young America's Foundation, and Jason Mattera, a spokesman for the group who graduated from RWU in 2005, responded that Hughes' behavior amounted to "gross intolerance" at a university that promotes itself as a place that values "collaboration of students and faculty in research" and "appreciation of global perspectives."

"That aside, it's a bold-faced lie for him to argue that all scientists agree with Al Gore," Mattera added.

Cybercast News Service previously reported that climate change skeptics have called "An Inconvenient Truth" a "sci-fi disaster" movie, and scientists who do not agree with the former vice president's view claim their perspective is being shunned in favor of trying to attain a "consensus" on the subject of global warming.

Mattera told Cybercast News Service that he "wasn't surprised" to hear about the situation because liberal professors often use their positions of authority to indoctrinate young minds. "This happens all the time, so we might have to stop calling these schools bastions of knowledge since they're really bastions of leftist thought," he said.

However, Susan Rivers, vice president of public affairs for RWU, told Cybercast News Service on Tuesday that this semester is the only time the film has been shown to students and as to whether it will be shown in the future, "the faculty and the deans agree together as a group what the content of these courses will be."

Rivers said Peloso was not enrolled in the course and therefore did not see the film. "He had already taken the class," she said, and in fact, "he was not enrolled during the semester in question."

Mattera acknowledged that Peloso learned of the situation from friends taking the course and decided to contact the teacher because of concern for his fellow students and the fact that he had no grade to be affected by the action.

"He's just trying to be a good student and continue being part in the educational community at RWU," Mattera added. "Besides, any university should not look to limit information but to expand it and have students come to their own conclusions."

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