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Introducing Glenn Beck University

July 6, 2010

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Glenn Beck, the controversial broadcaster, has decided to introduce his own education service: Beck University.

"Beck University is a unique academic experience bringing together experts in the fields of religion, American history and economics," says the announcement on the Beck Web site. "Through captivating lectures and interactive online discussions, these experts will explore the concepts of Faith, Hope and Charity and show you how they influence America’s past, her present and most importantly her future."

Courses are not for credit, so the use of the term "university" appears to be largely symbolic (although that got Donald Trump in trouble for his Trump University, which has since been renamed).

There is no tuition for Beck University, but to enroll, you must be an "Insider Extreme" subscriber to a variety of Beck products (for at least $6.26 a month).

Two of the three original faculty members (all called professors) are not traditional academics, but one is: James. R. Stoner Jr., a professor of political science at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge. In the syllabus posted for the new program, Stoner is slated to give lectures on the principle of charity, but he said in a brief interview that the lectures are all focused on general issues related to the Constitution and the development of American traditions. His first talk will be about federalism, his second on the separation of powers, and the third on individual rights.

Stoner said he is "someone who wants to teach" so he was delighted to accept Beck's offer to develop the lectures.

While Stoner said he didn't know how he came to Beck's attention, the LSU scholar has strong scholarly and conservative credentials. He is the author of Common-Law Liberty: Rethinking American Constitutionalism and Common Law and Liberal Theory: Coke, Hobbes, and the Origins of American Constitutionalism, and he is currently working on a book tentatively called "Resisting Judicial Supremacy." During the last Bush administration, he served on the National Council on the Humanities.

The circles in which Beck is popular tend to regularly criticize academe as dominated by the left. Stoner, while not disagreeing, suggested that the ability of the Beck team to identify one of its first scholars from within academe suggested that scholars don't all think alike. "There are a huge number of people who teach, and certain opinions that tend to be dominant in the academy, but there is diversity in the academy," he said. "Obviously somebody was interested in what I had to say."

The arrival of Beck University has not gone unnoticed by his critics. Keith Olbermann did a segment comparing Beck unfavorably to Ezra Cornell, the founder of Olbermann's alma mater. And Mother Jones has come out with suggestions for additional courses Beck U. might offer, including "Semiotics of Tricornered Hats," "Wilde, Proust, and Other Homosexual Europeans," "Middle Eastern and Arab Cultures: What's Up With That?" and "Underwater Conspiracy Weaving."

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Comments on Introducing Glenn Beck University

  • Your Bias Is Showing...Again
  • Posted by Anonymous on July 6, 2010 at 8:45am EDT
  • Ah, so Glenn Beck is labeled a "controversial broadcaster," and Keith Olbermann is labeled...not at all? Further, the article contains no note about the political tilt of *Mother Jones*--not exactly a non-partisan source. Look, I'm not a Glenn Beck fan, but I can't stand it when Scott Jaschik's bias shows so clearly. After all, Keith Olbermann is pretty controversial as well.

    Scott: Why don't you introduce Olbermann this way: "Keith Olbermann, the fantastic broadcaster of whom I am a giant fan"? At least we'd get a little truth in advertising out of that.

    By the way, Scott: Do you have a quote from Beck claiming that *each and every* American professor is a political radical? If not, try as you might, the existence of one conservative within academia doesn't speak against any of Beck's claims.

  • Gleen Beck U mascot names?
  • Posted by Bob on July 6, 2010 at 8:45am EDT
  • The GLiB's!
    GarBage U!
    BECKenstein's Monster

    The School Chorus: The Blecktones

  • Posted by Christine on July 6, 2010 at 9:00am EDT
  • Although some of what Beck does is overly dramatic and targeted at ratings, he seems to have a very thorough reasearch and production team. He has done some pieces on modern dictators and America's founders that present information that is not commonly taught in schools - which leads to a whole other discussion on why it is not. They are very well done.
    Beck is hard to pigeonhole. As for those listed as his critics? Really not a very impressive line-up. They're just people who wish they had his ratings (and income). I'd rather see his historical programs reviewed by real scholars, not Keith Olbermann.

  • Sports at Beck U
  • Posted by Tim on July 6, 2010 at 9:15am EDT
  • They wanted to start a hockey team but all the recruits were right wingers .Nobody understood defense, only attacking and the Goalkeeper quit half way through the practice to go on a speaking tour.

  • They Shut Down the Aerospace Enginerring Program...
  • Posted by Eric on July 6, 2010 at 10:00am EDT
  • because all the air craft flew circles around one big right wing.

  • more snake oil from America's greatest snake
  • Posted by How deep , Faculty Philosophy at PPCC on July 6, 2010 at 10:00am EDT
  • Mr. Beck has reached a new low by climbing atop the large historical pile of American hucksters. I have to give him credit, he never underestimates how stupid some Americans can be.

  • What are your problems?
  • Posted by John , History Adjunct at Community Colleges on July 6, 2010 at 10:15am EDT
  • It is no small wonder that when I saw the title of this piece, not only would the slant of the article be left, but so would the comments. Funny, how many of you lefties (btw, I consider myself liberal, just not Leftist)can't wait to jump on the bandwagon to criticize conservative viewpoints with knee jerk puerile comments. How childish to think that you hold the moral highground and how hypocritical to ridicule people with viewpoints other than your own. Grow up and start thinking about the fact that there are other ways of looking at things. For some reason an issue like this brings out the worst in those who are supposedly mature educators who can objectively think. Not so, it is more like listening to a second semester freshman who just finished Sociology 101 and think he or she knows everything and has the 'correct' opinion.

  • Doing the job that real academics won't do?
  • Posted by Hank , Midwestern U., about to retire on July 6, 2010 at 10:15am EDT
  • I see that already the predictable reactions are emerging. I guess it is a shame that "someone like Glenn Beck" has to be the one teaching history. However, I am glad someone is, and frankly he does a surprisingly good job on many days. We have a generation deprived of a fair history of their country, I for one am glad to see someone take that need seriously. And doing it without the approval of the Ministry of Education is all the better. For those who object, I believe the solution that is advised when others complain about television programming applies: change your channel.

  • Just what we need
  • Posted by DS on July 6, 2010 at 10:15am EDT
  • Well, Beck U will be fair and balanced, we can be sure of that. Perhaps the syllabus will include "Kenyan Birth Certificates: Who Besides Barack Hussein Obama Should be Deported" or "21st Century Fascism: Drawing Hitler Mustaches on Politicians You Oppose." The school seal will include their motto, "I Want My White Straight Christian English-Speaking Country Back," and if you want your diploma signed by Dean Palin, it'll cost you an extra $15,000.

    To each his/her own, but I think that Beck U fills a much-needed gap.

  • To Faculty Philosophy...
  • Posted by Christine on July 6, 2010 at 10:30am EDT
  • I would agree Faculty Philosophy. Look at what is governing us at all levels. Look at what the public has voted into office. How smart (or wise) is anyone? Most of our political "leaders" are snake oil salesman as well. These people have a lot more real power than Glenn Beck.

  • Thanks for calling me stupid
  • Posted by Alan on July 6, 2010 at 10:45am EDT
  • I guess I'm one of those "stupid Americans." If you take the time to actually listen to Glenn Beck, his insights are well thought out and seem to be appropriately researched. Call me stupid, but that's what I think.

  • Ignore the majority of the American public...
  • Posted by Christine on July 6, 2010 at 10:45am EDT
  • at your own peril, folks.

    John, you've stated things very well, and much of the arrogance illustrated by these "commentors" mirrors that which is currently in our government. No solutions, only put-downs and personal attacks. I would think a community of academics would welcome all knowledge and opposing viewpoints.

    And DS, from what I've seen of Beck, he has not advocated any of the cute parenthetical ideas you've listed. You should be informed before you criticize. For instance, perhaps a diploma from "Dean Pelosi" would be preferable? She is certainly a scholar, is she not? Particularly in economics!

  • A nice free-market solution
  • Posted by RPM on July 6, 2010 at 11:00am EDT
  • to the massive gap in traditional education. Beck has recently done an excellent retrospective on Woodrow Wilson and an examination of the roots and development of the Progressive movement.

    Progressives have made some interesting comments about their objectives over the decades. I wonder how many US History professors have delved into the close parallels with Marx, et al in this movement. On second thought, I feel confident that most know the movement intimately.

    I fully expect the tolerant and enlightened denizens here to welcome Beck to the great debate in the academy.

  • Better call it Beck College
  • Posted by Alan Contreras at Eugene, Oregon on July 6, 2010 at 11:00am EDT
  • The term "university" is restricted by law in most states and many countries, as a way of combating diploma mills. Mr. Beck would be better off calling his entity Beck College.

  • Call me stupid . . .
  • Posted by Alan on July 6, 2010 at 11:30am EDT
  • I guess I'm one of those "stupid Americans." If you listen, really listen, to what Glenn Beck says and teaches, I don't think you would call him controversial. He teaches history, and appears to do appropriate research before throwing something out there. I like Glenn Beck. But what do I know, I'm just a "stupid American."

  • Beck & F.A. Hayek
  • Posted by Jack Olson on July 6, 2010 at 12:00pm EDT
  • According to How Deep, Philosophy Faculty at PPCC, Beck is popular because Beck "never underestimates how stupid some Americans can be." Yet, last month, when Beck featured a discussion of F.A. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom" on his television show, the book immediately became the #1 bestselling non-fiction book sold by Amazon.com. How can it be a sign of limited intellect among Beck's audience that so many of them are reading a classic book of political economy?

  • Posted by Adjunct George on July 6, 2010 at 12:30pm EDT
  • I expected the childish comments from the left and I was not disappointed. For those of you who wish history with a different world view from those being taught in the schools, you may also wish to view the video's at "Prager University."

  • Posted by DrRingDing on July 6, 2010 at 1:15pm EDT
  • I expected the condescension and righteous indignation comments from the right and I was not disappointed. For those of you who want evidence of Glenn Beck's unlimited hypocrisy with a different world view from those being shown on Fox "News," you may also wish to view the videos at "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart."

  • "Stupid" defined
  • Posted by FK on July 6, 2010 at 2:00pm EDT
  • "Stupid" may refer to different things at diffeernt times--there are various books defining or approaching "stupidity" historically and philosophically. That is an "academic" apporach and anyone who does not focus on studying text and context, and the historical role in shaping values and meanings is not and cannot be considered an academic. So the article is right to deride Glen Beck--and any other person who does not follow academic standards, but is rather interested in propoaganda--and any comment about "right" or "left" wing bias is simply irrelevant: the reason one should make fun and critique Beck U. is an academic and an edcuational one. Whoever does not see that is either a non-academic (and thus should not be commenting on things they do not understand and are not qualified to analyze) or an un-educated or under-educated person (and we have so many of those today because of the anti-intellectual populism of "right-wing" politicians/propagandists). I can't understand how we can have comments on IHE supporting Beck! This is not about politics, but about intellect and rationality. So maybe there are way too many "stupid" people out there and they are trying to change the academy and make it in their own image--the last time that happened, in Nazi Germany, the world paid a hefty price. Anyone who agrees with Glen Beck --and his ilk of propogandists--or mistake his tirades for truth-seeking--is an honorory member of the brown shirts.....

    Cheers,

  • Did anyone see Beck's piece on...
  • Posted by Kevin , Learning Leader at Evil Corporate America on July 6, 2010 at 3:00pm EDT
  •  

    ...African Americans who were actively involved in the creation and shaping of our Nation?

    The Academy would have been proud to deliver this same story had they not been so busy calling us "brown shirts", telling us how stupid we are, telling us we have no voice because we're not in academia, calling Beck a "huckster", and using Jon Stewart as a serious source for rebuttal.

  • Slanderous FK
  • Posted by John , History adjunct at Community COlleges on July 6, 2010 at 3:30pm EDT
  • FK, you comments about anyone who cares to listen or read Beck is akin to a SA trooper is not only unfounded but pretty darn close
    to slanderous. You also call those who see some value in it, for the most part "stupid". I would consider your opinion to be closer to facism than any other I have seen here...oh, wait, sorry I mean enlightened according to your closest peers no doubt. A hypocrite is bad, but a self-rightous one is the worst. I am very, very glad you are not teachng my daughter your warped view.

    Ivory tower giving you cabin fever?

  • Arrogance personified
  • Posted by MKY , NB at UI on July 6, 2010 at 4:00pm EDT
  • FK's comment personifies the arrogance of the left. All those who don't agree with your point of view must be, naturally, stupid and ill-educated. My guess is that FK has no idea or has rarely seen anything of Beck beyond what is on the Daily Show which for some reason, DrRingDing thinks is a news show.

  • comparing apples and kumquats
  • Posted by DS on July 6, 2010 at 5:00pm EDT
  • No, I sure don't spend too much time sitting down to watch Glen Beck or his ilk, but what I have seen is that he regularly demonizes anyone who disagrees with him, with frequent usage of Nazi and/or Fascist comparisons. But when a liberal criticizes him, it is somehow the liberal who is being intolerant.

    Beck, like Stewart and Limbaugh and others, is an entertainer. He makes money for his employer by getting people to watch and pay attention, and if that's accomplished by being outrageous and insulting and even inciteful, so be it. But unlike Beck, Stewart is not trying to portray himself as the leader of any movement, his show is not a call to arms, he only occasionally even takes himself seriously. He seems amused by the fact that some people look to him for analysis of the political environment while he lampoons it. I severely doubt you'll ever see a Jon Stewart or Keith Olberman so full of themselves that they'd spread propaganda and call it a "university."

  • Posted by PCS on July 6, 2010 at 5:00pm EDT
  • As Tusser pointed out...."a fool and his money are soon parted"

  • Posted by Gabe on July 6, 2010 at 5:15pm EDT
  • OK righties, we can point out bias all day long, but the issue is that Beck's record speaks for itself. He uses his programs to toss up outrageous, obscure historical linkages all the time. He employs his mock unstable emotions to pander to those who know no better. He is already diminishing the concept of University by naming this "series" as such. Check out what is happening in the for-profit education area where scores of folks are in huge debt with worthless degrees and tell me this is not an attempt to feed even more garbage to folks who already follow him. He's decided to not allow folks access to this "University" without already being his $6/month groupie. Sounds like political discrimination.

  • Truth versus Opinion
  • Posted by FK on July 6, 2010 at 6:00pm EDT
  • Since when is "truth" slander? I am not providing an opinion here, but stating facts: the fact is that education is about using critical thinking and exploring, through various methods and appraches, fields of knowledge. Beck does not do that, and is thus not an educator, nor should he be associated with education. Who would disagree with that? Those who actually believe that Beck is interested in providing ways of knwoing associated with becoming a critical thinker and/or a scholar (what education is partially engaged in) do not have the mental capacity to understand or analyze education-related issues.

    Popular politics has nothing to do with education, although education prepares students for politics, since it provides the skills and knowledge sets to make sense of the world and understand when "reality" is constructed by politics. The Nazi regime believed that educaiton should reflect popular beliefs and "represent" the dominant politics of the time. That's a fact! Anyone interested in changing the academy to a place that reflects or represents the views of the "right" or the "left" (whether majority or minority) is involved in the same kind of politics that the brown shorts were involved in the mid 1930s in Germany. Education is not about opinions of people and about political parties or positions of people.

    I am proud of being a teacher who does not overvalue or teach opinions--but ways of coming up with informed and educated opinions. Without ever mentioning Beck or Olberman (sp?) in my classes, I am quite certain that none of my students would mix up "entertainment" with "truth". I hope that John's students can make that distinction--which he does not seem equipped to make.

  • How Do I Begin?
  • Posted by Philogenes , Professor at a Community College on July 6, 2010 at 7:00pm EDT
  • Maybe it is news to Beck's supporters that African Americans supported the American Revolution; it's hardly news to historians, and it doesn't qualify Beck as an insightful scholar/researcher.

    In fact, one could question whether he knows much history at all. Doesn't he know Abraham Lincoln's often repeated story that calling a sheep's tail a leg didn't make it one? Beck University will never be more than a promotional and enrichment machine for Glen Beck.

  • I shake my head . . .
  • Posted by Alan on July 6, 2010 at 8:00pm EDT
  • I am just amazed. I shake my head in amazement at some of your opinions (I'm talking to you, FK, Philogenes, Gabe, DS, Dr RingDing, . . .).

  • Recommended Reading
  • Posted by Carl Sesar on July 6, 2010 at 8:00pm EDT
  • Glenn Beck did recommend that his listeners read F.A. Hayek's book, "The Road to Serfdom," an important work, a classic in fact, whether one agrees with what it has to say or not, and the book sold out on Amazon the very next day. Quite an accomplishment, I'd say. Now that's higher education!

  • Bias at Inside Higher Ed
  • Posted by John , Faculty at Mississippi State on July 7, 2010 at 10:00am EDT
  • This publication has reached a new low by attacking a popular television host in a "news" piece. I watch Glenn Beck's show regularly. The information he presents is well-researched. Agree or disagree with him, he deserves more objectivity and decency by a reputable publication than was shown in this piece.

    Mother Jones, Olbermann cited as critics without identification that they're far-left idealogues? By omission, you portrayed them both as mainstream and Beck as fringe--though his ratings on radio and television are higher than the combined readership and viewership of these two sources.

    How insulting to fair-minded people and embarrassing for Inside Higher Ed.

  • Bias or not...
  • Posted by Marktropolis on July 7, 2010 at 1:45pm EDT
  • Last I checked, InsideHigherEd is supposed to report on news. In higher ed. And this is news. And whether or not you like Glenn Beck or not, I think it's useful to take a look at the other folks he's got lined up to teach. Stoner appears to be the only "real" academic. But I do have some concerns about David Barton - who as luck would have it Beck has been featuring prominently on his show in recent months. For those of you not paying attention, Barton is a conservative activist, Wallbuilders founder, and tends to play fast and loose with the facts. Beck likes him because he's done a lot of "work" around primary documents related to the founding of the country. In particular, he likes to highlight the alleged Christian nature of individuals (and their decisions) as evidenced by these documents. In other words, he's trying to use primary documents to prove that the founding of this country was based on ONLY Christian principles. Oh, and he was a prime mover in the nonsense earlier this year in Texas related to textbooks.

    Problem is that most of his so-called primary documents have been shown to be false. See this piece: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Glenn_Becks_plan_to_save_Americawith_Christian_pseudohistory.html (sorry, HTML tags aren't working). And yes, that's a "lefty" blogger, but please before you start shouting things about facism take a look and verify the sources yourself. It's clear that Beck hasn't been doing that much of that. Bad for business.

  • From Baker and Swaggert to Limbaugh, Hannity and Beck
  • Posted by Frank on July 7, 2010 at 1:45pm EDT
  • The"hucksters" were once men of the cloth. Today, they appear to have traded in their bibles for academic gowns. The flock remains the same... naive, mindless, non-thinkers who enjoy being led around by the ring in their nose.

  • Beck: Research, Motive, Actions
  • Posted by Mike-NY , Dept. Chair at Mercy College on July 7, 2010 at 9:45pm EDT
  • As briefly as possible, an all-encompassing reply... I'm neither for nor against Beck personally, nor his company or endeavors. A few facts and views which offer weight to whatever your opinion:

     

    1) Beck's company "Mercury Radio" something or other has a research staff of 25 people. Granted, this does not necessarily ensure the efficacy or veracity of the research, but it does exhibit (a) A real effort by Beck & his corp. (b) A real expense to Beck & his corp. for what he provides (c) A realistic ability to compile and extend to the public significant data and thus the ability to offer a well-conceived notion of what he speaks, you can argue his intent or genuine goal; my opinion is he's genuine and mostly on the money. For those of you who think perhaps that he is just talking out of his a _ _ you should at least know a humongous amount of research and fact checking go into every show he does. Perhaps somewhere in the range of 100 to several hundred man/hours of research for a single show at times.

     

    2) Although I agree, teaching history if deliberately skewed would be wrong, no single person I'm aware of has ever argued against Beck's CONTENT or VERACITY, I've only heard attacks on the person. If something is factually true or rings true, it doesn't matter if you hear it from a Tweety-bird, your grandmother or a Rhodes Scholar. Truth is truth and fact is fact, regardless of where it comes from. Take Beck's personality, temperament, looks, etc. out of the picture and address his facts presented. Is he wrong somewhere? If so, then point it out factually. But no one has, he's only attacked personally, the mark of an inferior intellect is exhibited by people such as Oberman who attack the person but lack the ability or desire to refute any of the facts, for example. Again, I'm neither for nor against Beck, but I recognize objective truth and intent when I see it, I know many of you reading this feel exactly the same, though you might not be able to eloquently voice as much.

     

    3) PROFIT - Finally, I'd like to address the clamoring that Beck's "only in it for the money", etc. (a) First, when did PROFIT become a dirty word? It's not, ultimate everyone in business or on salary is working for a PROFIT. Beck just makes a lot more than most people. Some people also simultaneously work somewhat altruistically while still earning a PROFIT from what they do. I think all would agree, if you could work at something you really enjoy, earn a lot of money doing it and do some good in the world that would be a great goal to shoot for. Yes, Glenn is making lot's of money relative to most people, but that doesn't rule out that he ALSO has a true intent to help our country with what he does (doesn't guarantee it but doesn't rule it out either). People who harp on this, well, just appear petty, I don't know how else to say it.

     

    At the end of the day, I wouldn't even venture to say how you should feel about Beck, feel what you feel, opine what you discern, but do it INTELLIGENTLY and first consider perhaps your own past hypnotic influences which may have contributed to your extreme like, or dislike, of Glenn. That's why I keep coming back to "stick to and address the validity of the facts presented", it's the only intellectually honest premise from which to argue "for or against Beck."

     

    My 2 cents, for what it's worth, but deeply consider the state of our economy, justice system and indeed the state of the world. When all is said and done, it may or may not be impossible no matter what we do, say or believe to save this world ultimately, but if we honestly align with the great, still and silent energy and truth within each of us, which is also within all our brothers and sisters in the world of all colors and nationalities, so to speak, we can perhaps at least find "salvation" in our attitudes, intents and who we genuinely ARE regardless of extraneous events, as opposed to finding it in a relative way compared to others, or in just purely results. Although its true "by their fruits shall you know them" the prize is in the excellence of the journey and not in the end goal, and the excellence of the journey is found in the intellectual honesty we're courageous enough to exhibit when picking apart any person. I'll say this about Beck, he's time and again request, "If I'm wrong, show me where I'm wrong." This is not the mark of a person trying to mislead people, this is the mark of a pure intent who's putting his ego aside for the sake of the truth of the matter.

     

    When all is said and done, I'd sooner stand shoulder to shoulder with such a man in this world than with a hundred random people, regardless of the outcome.

     

     

  • Re: Beck supporters
  • Posted by Mad on July 8, 2010 at 12:00pm EDT
  • For those who consider Beck's university and history a great academic endeavor, I recommend this article at Reason - http://reason.com/archives/2010/07/07/beck-u/singlepage

  • Posted by MariontheLibrarian on July 8, 2010 at 12:45pm EDT
  • Posted by Christine on July 6, 2010 at 9:00am EDT

    Although some of what Beck does is overly dramatic and targeted at ratings, he seems to have a very thorough reasearch and production team.

    You know who also had a "fabulous" research and production team? Hitler. I'm not comparing Beck to Hitler (although it's ironic considering he makes the same outrageous kinds of comparisons of other people numerous times on his radio and tv show on FOX) but honestly "fabulous" research doesn't mean it's authoritative and it certainly doesn't mean it's done to pursue truth, rather Beck's research team conducts it's research with a political agenda in mind. Beck certainly isn't the only person to do this, but don't fawn over his "fabulous" research team, when polticians (like Obama, Bush, and yes, even Hitler) hire the same sort of 20-30 somethings to Google or Wikipedia something for them and try to twist that information into the most favorable light for their side. I could to "fabulous" research on the fact Thomas Jefferson fathered a child out-of-wedlock with a woman he owned as a slave and say this proves school teachers who teach about Jefferson's accomplishments are racists. Beck makes the same sort of outrageous conclusions based on knee-jerk partisan agendas and it isn't "fabulous".

  • Show me where I'm wrong . . .
  • Posted by Alan on July 8, 2010 at 7:45pm EDT
  • So, Marion the Librarian, as Mr Beck says himself, "show me where I'm wrong." If he's wrong, show me where he's wrong, instead of talking in broad generalities that don't lead anywhere.