Yesterday, Professor Hughes began Frontiers of Science’s three-lecture physics unit by playing Lil Wayne, changing clothes on stage, and displaying 9/11 and Nazi Germany footage. Various news outlets (Slate, TIME, NY Daily News) have picked up the story, and here is some of the known coverage for today:
Also, Columbia released the following statement saying that faculty members bear “corresponding responsibilities” and that they are “reviewing the facts” of the lecture.
Universities are committed to maintaining a climate of academic freedom, in which the faculty members are given the widest possible latitude in their teaching and scholarship. However, the freedoms traditionally accorded the faculty carry corresponding responsibilities. Columbia’s Faculty Handbook states that “In conducting their classes, faculty should promote an atmosphere of mutual tolerance, respect, and civility [and] should confine their classes to the subject matter covered by their courses.” While one must exercise caution in judging excerpts from a lecture or short presentations from an entire course outside of their full context, the appropriate academic administrators are currently reviewing the facts of this particular presentation in quantum mechanics.