The University of Austin, the unaccredited anti-reawakening university launched last November through Bari Weiss’ Substack (not to be confused with the current graduate school of the University of Texas at Austin), officially counts students – around 80 of them, working on their unofficial certificates from June 13-24.
The school was conceived by a small group of centrists, intellectuals affiliated with the dark web and Real time with Bill Maher accustomed to round tables, including the historian Niall Ferguson, Bari Weiss herself, Atlantic Arthur C. Brooks, contributor and former president of the American Enterprise Institute, Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of Palantir, and Heather Heying, an evolutionary biologist, who resigned from Evergreen State College in 2017 following her husband’s refusal of an equity initiative that led to campus-wide protests and the couple eventually suing the school. (All but Brooks are currently listed as the school’s “founding trustees; Brooks serves on its advisory board.)
UATX claims that they are considering applying for accreditation, but until then they are now offering a postgraduate scholarship for the fall. They still seem to be planning an “undergraduate program” for some time in the future, which will include a two-year thesis-type project, referred to interchangeably as “north star” or “project Polaris.” For this, the site suggests that students “compose a symphony in honor of lost languages” or “develop a white paper for a new cryptocurrency that solves a technological problem in the financial sector”.
But for now, the inaugural summer program, called “Forbidden Classes,” includes seminars on taboo topics like “freedom,” as well as workshops to develop “practical skills” like “how to write an editorial” and “how to live an entrepreneurial life. Classes begin today, seven months after former St. John’s President Pano Kanelos, who is UATX’s chief executive, first announced the academy in November.The program is presented as a response to the “current turmoil – political, social and cultural -” which “prohibits[s] prevents us from meeting honestly and authentically. The UATX balm is the equivalent of two series of week-long seminars and workshops, primarily funded by Lonsdale, and held, somewhat confusingly, in Dallas, not Austin. Students can participate in either or both weeks.
The University did not return Gawker’s request for comment or provide a copy of any curriculum. But according to their website, the first week “will investigate contemporary issues to clarify the question, ‘Who am I as an individual? these four teachers:
- Niall Ferguson: the conservative Harvard historian, who once asserted that “empire is needed more than ever in the 21st century”, will lead a seminar on “free vs. unfree societies in the 20th century”.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali: The anti-Islam activist, whom the Council on American-Islamic Relations once called a “notorious Islamophobe” and “one of the worst of the worst enemies of Islam in America”, will host a seminar on “freedom of expression, religion, and women’s rights (Ali and Ferguson are also married.)
- Father Dorian: the geophysicist, whose scheduled lecture at MIT last fall was canceled after protests over his characterization of affirmative action and diversity programs as “repeating the mistake that made the atrocities of the 20th century possible,” will teach “approaches to climate change”.
- Rob Henderson: Cambridge PhD candidate, Substacker and writer Quillette will lead a seminar on “the psychology of social status”.
It all looks scintillating. But those begging for more forbidden treats can stay for a second week, to explore “the contours of debates about freedom, science, capitalism and liberalism in Western history and development”. For this task, UATX recruited these talented candidates:
- Kathleen Stock: Britain’s leading TERF philosopher, who resigned from the University of Sussex last year following student protests over her dedication to writing about toilets transgender women should use, will make her scholarly debut on the other side of the pond with a course called “varieties of feminism”.
- Jacob Howland: the former Greek philosopher, whose primary interactions with the intellectual dark web appear to involve writing about administrative wrangling at the University of Tulsa, where he is a professor emeritus, will pontificate on the juicy subject of “the ideology”.
- Dierdre McCloskey: the conservative economist and author of articles such as “The Great Enrichment Was Built on Ideas, Not Capital” in Fee, and “The West Didn’t Steal Its Way to Wealth” in The National Reviewwill teach “Capitalism: disaster or triumph?
- Thomas Chatterton Williams: Gawker’s favorite ‘black ex’, Guggenheim winner who spearheaded Harper’s infamous 2020 letter, to host seminar on ‘Richard Wright’s Black Male Writing at Ta-Nehisi Coates”.
Those eight thought leaders will be aided by 18 additional “workshop bosses,” including David Mamet, six venture capitalists, the founder of a start-up aimed at doing business in the metaverse, and a Marvel co-chairman. Entertainment. Great.
Many of those names will be familiar to those who read the school’s November announcement essay, which included a list of the school’s 33 supporters. Shortly after the announcement, two of the scholars named by Kanelos – Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker and former University of Chicago president Robert Zimmer – publicly disaffiliated from the university due to its values. declared.
But it seems few others have followed suit; of the 33 people appointed by Kanelos, most have landed positions at the school as teachers, administrators or counselors. Only two members of this initial group (besides Zimmer and Pinker) are not included on the UATX site: AI researcher Lex Fridman and Tufts political science professor Vickie Sullivan. It is unknown if they are still involved; neither immediately returned Gawker’s calls and emails.
According to the UATX Twitter account Account, some 325 students – all between the ages of 18 and 24, in accordance with the eligibility criteria – applied for the places, including “a startup founder, a novelist, a published academic, an application developer, a prostheses”. Expect to read more imminently.