The New York Times last year ran a short profile on Moscow State University’s sociology department, where students have lodged complaints about that department’s academic standards and living conditions. Students allege that the dean, Vladimir Dobrenkov, has institutionalized anti-Western, xenophobic, nationalistic, and anti-Semitic conspiracy theories in the department, which goes a long way toward explaining Cameron’s warm welcome there earlier this week. According to The Times:
The dean’s office has distributed a brochure to all students that approvingly quotes the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ blames Freemasons and Zionists for the world wars, and claims that they control U.S. and British policy and the global financial system,” the students wrote in one of their public appeals. “Studying conditions at the department are unbearable.”
“The quality of the education has become so low that it has become terrible,” said one of the students, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation by staff members. “For the last two years all of my education has had to be self-education.”
Richard Bartholomew at Talk to Action has more information about Dobrenkov’s nationalistic views and anti-western conspiracy theories.
A working group of Russian academics from the Public Chamber of Russia responded to student complaints and inspected MSU’s sociology department. They found several deficiencies, including:
- The level of training among the faculty “does not meet world standards,” nor do they follow current knowledge and trends in sociology.
- A number of teaching aids, specifically a three-volume basic textbook that Dobrenkov co-wrote with Elena Kravchenko was found to be “totally unsatisfactory” for not taking into account the current state of sociology in Russia and abroad. Several examples of plagiarism were also found in the textbook along with conflicting interpretations of key concepts.
- While some graduate-level work by students were found to be “quite professional,” others offered for inspection to the working group included ideological expressions of bigotry against other cultures.
- Questions on final exams fell short of the current state of sociology. Students received high marks on their exams despite not knowing about the works by major well-known scientists.
- MSU’s faculty operates in near-complete isolation from the rest of the sociological world. With few exceptions, members of MSU’s faculty aren’t published in significant sociology journals, they don’t participate in international conferences, and they don’t invite external experts for lectures.
- The working group also noted that Dobrenkov plans to train students in what he calls “Orthodox sociology.” This, the working group noted, was especially troubling for a leading national university which trains sociologists who are then expected to compete in international sociology.
Given Paul Cameron’s numerous denunciations by professional associations here in the United States — including two denunciations by the American Sociological Association — it looks like he found some kindred spirits at Moscow State who may well be receptive to his proposed pogroms against LGBT people here and abroad.