An associate of the Heartland Institute, the thinktank devoted to discrediting climate change, taught a course at a top Canadian university that contained more than 140 false, biased and misleading claims about climate science, an expert audit has found.First, the university has a problem. I don't know about Carleton's procedures, but University course syllabi usually must be submitted for review before courses are approved to be taught. In some instances this can legal overtones as the syllabus might be interpreted as a contract. Reading through the CASS report, Harris' course was an enduring one that had previously been taught by others, so changes to the course content imposed by Harris might not have needed approval or indeed might not have been reviewed for years, or simply been rubber-stamped, or what was submitted for review unrepresentative of what was taught. The Guardian, quoting a Carleton official, implies that a review took place, but also leaves open a scapegoat in mentioning the collective agreement (to be fair, the CASS report says something similar regarding the CA):
The course at Ottawa's Carleton University, which is being accused of bias, was taught for four terms from 2009-2011 by Tom Harris, a featured expert at the Heartland Institute.
All courses are biased in some way. It is inherent in human nature. A class will reflect multiple biases from the choice of materials to the classroom layout, lecture style, the grading rubric, and teaching philosophy of the instructor. However, ethical conduct requires that the bias be acknowledged in such a way that students are fully informed of the content and motivations behind the selection of materials.
"Academic excellence is a priority at Carleton and we have a process in place for reviewing courses that balances context with academic freedom and the rights of our instructors as outlined in their collective agreement," spokeswoman Caitlin Kealey said in a statement. "We are guided by rigorous science and the science supports the existence of climate change."
Second, and I think more troubling is the question of how Mr. Harris was hired by Carleton, as Big City Lib asked way back in September. Harris is an engineer by training but not as far as I can tell a practicing one. His employment record is with decidedly anti-climate change organisations. He is most definitely not an atmospheric or earth scientist with associated training to interpret and translate the nuts and bolts of current climate change science. This biographical info is all easily found through google. There are large numbers of science graduate students and new PhDs with bona fide expertise in climate science who would be able to teach such a course, and I might add, could seriously use the experience and income.
Why Harris was hired, and they were not, may reflect a different sort of bias.
In any case, Mr. Harris' placement as lecturer in at Carleton looks a like a covert action on the part of industry-financed politically biased climate denial groups to infiltrate university instructor ranks. Their goal is not to rigorously produce critical refereed climate science. That's already done by scientists as a matter of tradecraft and is where the consensus comes from!
No, the odious Harris and his backers, unable to
Other universities and colleges around the world with courses on climate change should check their instructors' backgrounds and course materials. If it's happened at one place, it's happened elsewhere.