What happened when a Jewish professor created a right-wing curriculum for his liberal college students

The campus of Tufts University in Boston. (Photo by Eric Kilby/Flickr Creative Commons)

Last September, Eitan Hersh, a political science professor at Tufts University in Boston, tried something that hasn’t been done before: he created a class teaching conservative ideas to students of his private liberal college. He felt there was a gap in the school’s poli-sci curriculum, sensing that graduates were leaving without understanding the central ideas of the political right. He included articles from the National Review, videos of Tucker Carlson and essays by conservative Black intellectuals such as Glenn Loury and Thomas Sowell.

The results, summarized in a recent longform feature in Boston Magazine, hint at the effectiveness of teaching politically diverse opinions on campus: most students (of this admittedly self-selecting group who are even willing to engage with the curriculum in the first place) did seem to positively grapple with the ideas, understand them better and have reasonable debates in an open academic forum.

As pro-Palestinian tent protests continue dividing post-secondary institutions across North America, and political polarization feels more prevalent than ever before, we’re joined by Hersh on Bonjour Chai to discuss what he learned by running this “conservative thought experiment” over an entire semester.

Credits

Bonjour Chai is hosted by Avi Finegold and Phoebe Maltz Bovy. Zachary Kauffman is the producer and editor. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Socalled. The show is a co-production from The Jewish Learning Lab and The CJN, and is distributed by The CJN Podcast Network. Support the show by subscribing to this podcast, donating to The CJN and subscribing to the podcast’s Substack.