We write to clarify the mission and methods of the KU Women's Studies Program in light of David Horowitz's biased and uninformed testimony about us before the Kansas House Appropriations Committee on March 15.
Like the university as a whole, our program is all about academic freedom and adamantly opposed to the indoctrination of students by any force whatsoever. We teach students to think critically about their world in order to take their place as responsible adult stewards of our local and global communities. We are very proud of our program and the accomplishments of our students and faculty. We invite you to investigate us and view examples of our students' work on our Web site at www.womensstudies.ku.edu.
Like the faculty at the university as a whole, our program's faculty members are each subject to multiple sources of regular peer review of our teaching and research. Peer review is a process whereby one's intellectual work is rigorously evaluated and criticized by other experts in the field, often anonymously. It is the deliberate sifting and winnowing of theory, evidence, critique and counter-critique that has resulted in the enormous progress of knowledge over the past century in fields across the academy.
As teachers of women's studies, we bring our students into this vast, global conversation of ideas about gender and sexuality. The ideas that Mr. Horowitz claimed are so "politically controversial" - that women are oppressed, that they are nonetheless agents of change, and that social injustice exists - are well established. They are an essential part of the global discussion of human rights, injustice, inequality and freedom, engaged in by persons across the spectrum of philosophical, religious and political views.
Mr. Horowitz is, of course, free to speak his mind about this or any other idea. We remain committed to free intellectual debate. As a part of this free debate, it is essential that all of us hold each other accountable to evidence for ideas we express, particularly those with which we seek to influence political action to constrain others' rights to freely express themselves. The so-called Academic Bill of Rights seeks legislative oversight of the content of ideas expressed in state-supported universities. It is our view that this is an intrusion of a political process into the free intellectual process of academic peer review, and that, as such it is ill-advised for a free society.