Bard College, a liberal arts institution in upstate New York that was funneled $500 million from billionaire George Soros this year, is offering a course this upcoming Fall instructing students on how to parrot talking points for abolishing prisons and police.
The course “Abolishing Prisons and the Police” aims to teach undergraduates how to “sell abolition to the masses and design a multi-media ad campaign to make prison abolition go viral.” The course description states:
This course explores what’s to be gained, lost and what we can’t imagine about a world without prisons. Through the figure of abolition (a phenomenon we will explore via movements to end slavery, the death penalty, abortion, gay conversion therapy and more) we will explore how and why groups of Americans have sought to bring an absolute end to sources of human suffering. In turn, we will explore a history of the punitive impulse in American social policy and seek to discern means of intervening against it. Finally, on the specific question of prison abolition, we will think through how to ‘sell’ abolition to the masses and design a multi-media ad campaign to make prison abolition go viral.
Bard launched its Hate Studies Initiative in 2018, which is the umbrella the course is operating under. Other courses taught under the Hate Studies Initiative have included “Queer Cinema,” “Capitalism and Slavery,” and “Sanctuary: Engaging State and Local Government for Human Rights.”
The initiative is run by Kenneth S. Stern, who writes for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. The website says that “Hate studies is defined as ‘Inquiries into the human capacity to define, and then dehumanize or demonize, an ‘other,’ and the processes which inform and give expression to, or can curtail, control, or combat, that capacity.” According to this definition, Bard is openly defining the rule of law as inherently dehumanizing and demonizing.
Kwame Holmes, a Human Rights Project scholar at Bard, is set to teach the fall class. Holmes has a history of calling for the abolition of law enforcement, notably writing an op-ed last year called “Why Abolish the Police?”
Other schools have taught courses on defunding police, such as Indiana University.
Bard could not be reached for comment.