first year seminar

Jul 2020

I strongly believe this professor should not be teaching at Columbia unless she revises some of her views on conservation. She taught a first-year seminar led by Jill Shapiro where she basically told us how the non-urban Indian population (in India) is encroaching on the tiger's habitat. And she, as a mother knows FOR SURE that 'those children' and 'indigenous people' would fare better in towns, with vaccines and proper living conditions. All this while telling us that transportation infrastructure needs are far more important than 'these people who are using a few trees and "deforesting" in order to raise cattle and that new trains NEED to cut through the forest (the tiger's habitat) for them to be efficient. Idk if she's getting paid by anyone in India to say this stuff, but considering historical events in India and America (HELLO YELLOWSTONE) this is inadmissible and truly offensive. I challenged her in class and then so did one or two other students (one was a Native American) and her response was "yes, like I said, this is a complicated issue". We pushed back again, and this was her response, over and over again. No, Ruth, it's not complicated, stop encroaching and colonizing under the umbrella of conservation. I'm an older student and didn't feel terrible challenging her views, and she did let us challenge her, but imagine if this seminar was filled with all first-year 18 year olds who knew little about conservation. (her sweet demeanor contrasted with her words serve as an intense cognitive dissonance). She's a very nice person, but this kind of stuff cannot be taught at an ivy league institution in the 21st century. The rest of the faculty in the seminar were excellent!