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Physics and Human Sexuality

Silhouettes 3 241x300 9014981As the veteran educators remember, in the 1990s, there was a national movement in the universities across the US toward a “general education” with a few core science courses from which students could choose.

In one of the few discussions that we (the physics department) had with the dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences, we tried to convince him futilely that there should be restrictions on the choices, and that a completely free choice would drive the students away from physics. I asked the dean, “How can our introductory physics course with an implicit prerequisite of high school algebra compete with ‘Human Sexuality’ with no implicit prerequisite which the biology department is considering to offer and which has a course description that includes  ‘an audio-visual analysis of the physiological and emotional processes of intercourse’?” His answer was, “Liberal education is like a free market economy. Be innovative!”

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Silhouettes 3 241x300 9014981As the older generation of educators remember, in the 1990s, there was a national movement in the universities across the US toward a “general education” with a few core science courses from which students could choose.

In one of the few discussions that we (the physics department) had with the dean of the college of liberal arts and sciences, we tried to convince him futilely that there should be restrictions on the choices, and that a completely free choice would drive the students away from physics. I asked the dean, “How can our introductory physics course with a prerequisite of calculus compete with ‘Human Sexuality’ with no prerequisite which the biology department is considering to offer?” His answer was, “Liberal education is like a free market economy. Be innovative!”

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