In the wake of the election, some professors have confronted our political landscape in and out of the classroom, modeling healthy discussion, writing letters to President Trump and incorporating current events into their curricula. 

Last Friday, Professor of Government Paul Franco moderated an event where attendees discussed the value of ideological diversity on campus. This Thursday, a panel of professors from the government and legal studies department offered their perspectives on Trump’s election and its implications. 

In January, Professors Mark Battle and Madeleine Msall partnered with physics professors across the country to pen a letter to Trump advocating he take widely accepted ideas about climate change into account when making policy. 

In an Orient op-ed this week, Professor of History Patrick Rael argues that a fierce commitment to politically neutral yet discerning academic values is more important now, in an era of alternative facts.

In addition, we have noticed some of our professors are integrating discussion of current political events into classes, giving an example of how the knowledge and skills we are learning can be used to analyze, understand and influence the world.

For example, Assistant Professor of Government Maron Sorenson’s Judicial Politics course has left parts of the syllabus open to address the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in the coming weeks. A class in the gender, sexuality and women’s studies department has routinely been leaving time at the beginning of class to discuss news and current issues. A few classes addressing executive power and political regimes have highlighted historical connections with the present. 

In discussing the recent actions of our professors, we have been reminded of the oft-repeated alumni line: “Bowdoin taught me how to think.” Likely, our professors have been teaching us “how to think” since we stepped foot on campus, but the immediate link between current events and professors’ actions has made that much more apparent. We are learning to confront and evaluate ideas that oppose our own, to use our knowledge to encourage political action and to use information and methodologies from the classroom to solve problems other than those posed in homework assignments. 

While we have enumerated several positive examples, there’s a sense on campus that many professors aren’t engaging substantively with current issues. Making time for this type of learning is especially important in this new age. Professors should find a way to connect academics and current events, whether it be in or out of the classroom. Doing so shows us that our learning is relevant, giving us the intellectual tools to engage with the world using deeper frameworks of knowledge. 

This editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient’s editorial board, which is comprised of Julian Andrews, Harry DiPrinzio, Dakota Griffin, Meg Robbins and Joe Seibert.