Peace Studies at Ball State Revealed, SAF Launches New Pamphlet · 07 December 2004

Titled "Indoctrination or Education? The 'Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution' Program at Ball State University," the booklet exposes the publicly-funded BSU Peace Studies Center as a radical, anti-military institution and showcases the stunning lack of concern displayed by BSU administrators when confronted with clear evidence of its inappropriate educational agenda.

Students for Academic Freedom was alerted to the program's failings by BSU student Brett Mock, who contacted our organization with an account of his experience in Professor George Wolfe's "Introduction to Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution" class last spring. Brett describes an intellectual atmosphere that was closed to political or philosophical viewpoints differing from Professor Wolfe's extreme positions and says that the course became "a class designed entirely to delegitimize the use of the military in the defense of our country."

In one classroom exchange, a student asked Professor Wolfe if self-defense with a gun would be justifiable if a group of armed gang members came to Ball State and began shooting innocent students, Wolfe responded in the negative, explaining, "Well, the gang would eventually run out of bullets, and you can always hide." The textbook required for the course did justify one form of violence, however: revolutionary violence. It gave Communist Cuba as an example of why violence can be sometimes justified to bring about "social justice."

Students for Academic Freedom has twice written the Ball State Administration to protest the violation of educational standards by Professsor Wolfe and the Peace Studies Center and to urge them to adopt the Academic Bill of Rights. Our efforts were met with excuses and resistance. Provost Beverley Pitts maintained that, "consideration of a wide range of viewpoints was accepted and encouraged" in Professor Wolfe's course. Yet upon inquiry it was revealed that she had not made any attempt to contact Brett Mock, the student whose complaint had made an investigation necessary in the first place. When we wrote again to Pitts to point this out, she did not respond.

The administration's stonewalling was the impetus for a further look at the Ball State Peace Studies program, which revealed a further lack of integrity in the conduct of the course and the administration's investigation.

According to Provost Pitts, "the primary text for the class is Barash and Webel, Peace and Conflict Studies (Sage Publications, 2002), which presented various sides of peace- and war-related issues," but upon even a preliminary examination this is revealed not to be the case. As David Horowitz showed in his article, One Man's Terrorist is Another Man's Freedom Fighter, in the preface to their book, Barash and Webel write: "The field [of Peace Studies] differs from most other human sciences in that it is value-oriented, and unabashedly so. Accordingly we wish to be up front about our own values, which are frankly anti-war, anti-violence, anti-nuclear, anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, pro-environment, pro-human rights, pro-social justice, pro-peace and politically progressive." (p. x)

Barash and Webel live up to their own billing. As Horowitz notes, despite rejecting the possibility of using military force as an instrument of peace, "Peace and Conflict Studies does actually endorse one kind of violence, and one kind alone. Not surprisingly this is the revolutionary kind. Here is Barash and Webel's example of revolutionary violence that has led to good results:

Consider the case of Cuba. In the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, despite more than 40 years of an American embargo of Cuban imports and exports, infant mortality in Cuba has declined to the lowest in Latin America; life expectancy increased from 55 years in 1959 to 73 years in 1984; health care was nationalized and made available to all Cuban citizens at no or little cost; literacy exceeded 95%; and although prostitution, begging, and homelessness returned to Cuba in the 1990s (almost entirely for economic reasons due to the embargo and to the loss of support from the former Soviet Union), Cuba still has far fewer of these problems than virtually all other countries in Latin America. While Cuba is far from an earthly paradise, and certain individual rights and civil liberties are not yet widely practiced, the case of Cuba indicates that violent revolutions can sometimes result in generally improved living conditions for many people." (pp. 14-15, emphasis added).

"This is the entire portrait provided by the authors of Cuba's Communist dictatorship. No mention is made that Cuba is in fact a totalitarian dictatorship in which every citizen is a prisoner in his own country, spied on by the ruler's secret police," Horowitz notes.

SAF's investigation also revealed that Professor George Wolfe, the director of the Ball State Peace Studies Center, does not possess a degree in Peace Studies or any social science related discipline. The biography on his official BSU homepage identifies him as a saxophonist and an associate professor of music. Placing him in charge of a course that purports to deal with the history and nature of war and its social causes is an abuse of the students who pay tuition to attend Ball State and a misuse of the funds provided by Indiana taxpayers.

All this information and more can be found in our new booklet whose contents include:

  • Indoctrination in the Classroom: Brett Mock's original article on his experience in Prof.
  • Wolfe's Peace Studies Class at Ball State.
  • Recruiting Students to the Anti-American, Terrorist Support Network At Ball State: an overview of the origins and current status of the BSU Peace Studies Center
  • A letter to legislators urging them to look into the abuse of tax dollars for partisan purposes
  • The Academic Bill of Rights
  • An exchange of letters with the Ball State Administration
  • One Man's Terrorist is Another Man's Freedom Fighter: A review of Peace and Conflict Studies, the course book used on the Ball State class
  • An excerpt from Peace and Conflict Studies
  • The Ideological University: An email exchange between two Ball State students

The full text of the booklet can be read on our website here.

The results of this investigation speak not only to the specific program at Ball State but also to the academic field of Peace Studies as it is instituted on campuses across the country, at over a dozen schools alone in the state of Indiana and many more nationwide. For this reason we have sent copies of our new pamphlet to Indiana state legislators and to education officials and top administrators at Ball State and the other Indiana colleges and universities which sponsor Peace Studies programs. We are urging these individuals to fight for the adoption of the Academic Bill of Rights to ensure that education, not indoctrination, will be the mission of Indiana's institutions of higher learning.

If your own campus is host to a peace studies center or department, SAF wants to hear about your experiences in the classroom. We can help you to launch an investigation into the texts and methods of instruction used to determine whether the program is truly educational or ideological in nature.
For more information, please contact me at 202-393-0123 or at Sara@studentsforacademicfreedom.org . SAF can help you to bring the academic freedom movement to your campus.

Yours in Freedom,

Sara Dogan
National Campus Director
Students for Academic Freedom