Lee Bollinger on diversity


“Diversity is not merely a desirable addition to a well-rounded education. It is as essential as the study of the Middle Ages, of international politics and of Shakespeare.”


— Lee Bollinger, President, Columbia University








Columbia University president Lee Bollinger believes that diversity is essential to a liberal education. How essential he spelled out in the above oft quoted remark.

What a shame that Shakespeare didn’t think to write a play about it; that medieval theologians did not debate or write about it; that it does not tend to be a central issue in international relations or discussed by world leaders in summit meetings.

Just think, a student could be getting the benefits of Shakespeare’s undeniable “writing skills” (we must grant him that), for example; improve his or her vocabulary and diction while at the same time broadening horizons with respect to tolerance and understanding of “others” — of characters like Othello and Shylock, for example.

Shakespeare’s could have used his plays to impart hortatory lessons: racism in Othello, anti-Semitism in The Merchant of Venice, ageism in King Lear, sexism in The Taming of the Shrew, and so on. With an inventive mind like Shakespeare’s, the possibilities for politically correct instruction are huge.

Too bad Shakespeare never thought of it.

Does not speak well for Shakespeare. No wonder his status and desirability as an anchor in the curriculum (he used to be required reading in high schools) have been lowered a bit. Too bad he didn’t have the benefit of a twenty first century education. Come to think of it, he only attended grammar school! And, there was no diversity training then. So much the worse for the Bard and his benighted fellow students.


— Roger W. Smith

      August 27, 2016

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; classical music; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
This entry was posted in personal views of Roger W. Smith, political correctness (PC), Shakespeare and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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