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Florida drops sociology from gen ed courses, bans DEI spending

Adds courses in oceanography and geology to list

An introductory sociology course will no longer count for general education credits at Florida’s state higher education institutions, following two recent votes by policymakers.

The Florida Board of Governors, which sets academic standards for the state’s university system, has decided to drop “Principles of Sociology” as a general education course. It also voted to prohibit universities from spending money on “diversity, equity, and inclusion” programming, in alignment with state law.

The Board of Governors voted on Wednesday to drop the class from its general education course list and instead add an American history survey class.

The vote, which applies to the state’s university system, follows a similar decision last week by the state Board of Education. The Jan. 17 vote by the BOE applies to the state’s colleges, including its two-year community colleges.

The American Sociological Association opposed the decision.

“While we do not contest the fact that studying the Constitution and other foundational governmental documents is of critical importance, we argue that such knowledge is insufficient for someone to be fully civically engaged,” the group wrote in a public comment. “Sociological knowledge and understanding is a crucial component of civic literacy.”

Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz pushed for the changes in order to focus on civic literacy.

The sociology group did not respond to two College Fix emailed requests for comment on the course, if it pushes a certain ideology, and what dropping it as a gen ed class would mean for enrollment.

The board of governors also did not respond to similar requests for comment prior to the vote.

Professor Douglas Kincaid, the chair of Florida International University’s department of global and sociocultural studies, provided The Fix with a joint letter from university sociology and related program chairs.

The letter stated sociology helps students understand “aging and the lifecycle; communication and information technologies; consumers and consumption; crime; international migration; organizations, occupations and work; politics; science, knowledge and technology; social dimensions of the law; and social dimensions of medicine.”

“We recognize that the removal of introductory sociology from the core curriculum does not mean that the course cannot be taught; we will continue to offer it,” the letter stated. “But a major reduction in the number of sections we offer will inevitably result in far fewer students benefiting from a sociological education and an impoverishment of the general education curriculum overall.”

The professors also warned about faculty retention and a loss of research funds.

But at least one sociologist is supportive of the changes.

Professor Alexander Riley, who teaches sociology at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, said sociology has become a “workshop for professional leftists.”

Riley pointed The Fix to a recent essay he wrote when asked for comment.

“The truth is that most of what is presented today as sociological knowledge to college students, in Florida and everywhere else, is straightforward political propaganda from the far Left,” he wrote for The American Mind, responding to the ASA letter. “The discipline has devolved in recent decades into little more than academic cover for the dissemination of a radical ideology.”

He noted the sociology group’s 2024 conference is focused heavily on political topics with topics about “race” and “social justice.” The group also posts pro-LGBT and pro-racial identity videos on its site.

The group is “generally indistinguishable from political activist movements such as Black Lives Matter, the Women’s March, or MoveOn.”

“Sociology in 2023 aims to turn students into bitter social justice warriors,” he wrote last December. “It is really that simple.”

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IMAGE: The Florida Channel

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About the Author
College Fix contributor William Hurley is a student at Hope College where he studies political science and theology. He is active in many clubs including Hope Republicans, Hope Catholics, and Students Cherishing Life. He has written for the Hope College student newspaper, The Anchor.