The Nature of College by James Farrell


The Beloit College Mindset List

The Beloit College Mindset list came out this week, with some poignant reminders of the pace of change in the United States. For entering first-year students,

There has always been an Internet ramp onto the information highway.

Faux Christmas trees have always outsold real ones.

As they’ve grown up on websites and cell phones, adult experts have constantly fretted about their alleged deficits of empathy and concentration.

They’ve always been able to dismiss boring old ideas with “been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.”

Public schools have always made space available for advertising

They’ve often broken up with their significant others via texting, Facebook, or MySpace

College students seem to be growing up in a different society than their parents. Increasingly, college students are also growing up on a different planet, but there’s not a lot of environmental content in the Beloit mindset. So here are ten additions to the list, reminding us both how far environmentalism has come, and how far we have to go.

1. “Captain Planet” was only available in re-runs.

2. The United States has always had an Environmental Protection Agency.

3. Recycling has always been the main way you show you’re environmentally concerned.

4. These students have experienced nine of the ten hottest years on record, and they know that climate change is real.

5. They know Al Gore (if at all) more from the movie An Inconvenient Truth than from his book Earth in the Balance, published the year before they were born.

6. “Old McDonald” has always been a nostalgic fantasy about a time before industrial agriculture and factory farms.

7. Vegetarianism has always been an acceptable option among their peers.

8. Corporations have always greenwashed their products.

9. The Republican Party has always opposed environmental policy and regulation, and . . .

10. Global weirding has always been on the American political agenda, but nothing ever gets done.