Another glaring example of the dumbing down of America's universities. Now, students enrolled at the University of Kentucky are able to garner core curriculum credit by taking a course on "taco literacy."
Yet again we must clarify that this is not content from the satirical "news" site The Onion nor is it sketch material from the latest Saturday Night Live.
This is what passes for university education in the West.
"Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the U.S. South" is an actual course. And it uses textbooks like Tacopedia and Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food as students "explore the history and networks of Mexican and Mexican American food in the United States."
The CollegeFix reports that students enrolled in this "writing course" are expected to focus solely on Mexican food. Through the course students will meet their "Community, Culture and Citizenship in the USA" core curriculum requirement. According to the Fix, which took information directly from the university's website and course syllabus, required-reading and textbooks include: Tacopedia, Tortillas: A Cultural History, Planet Taco: A Global History of Mexican Food, and Taco USA.
Of course school administrators are defensive about the course, claiming it is serious curriculum:
"I don’t have anything to add to what already has been written about this class, except to say that headlines about a ‘taco class’ have completely mischaracterized this class,” Jay Blanton, executive director for public relations and marketing at the University of Kentucky, said in an email to The College Fix.
“It is clear that this is a writing and narrative class that explores Mexican culture, food-ways and other issues by examining, among other things, food. It’s a writing and rhetoric class,” Blanton added.
Why is that clear, Blanton? It is a fair guess to assume that the last thing on anyone's mind after viewing the cover of "Planet Taco" would be: "Ah-ha, this is a book for an intensive writing and rhetoric class."
Nonetheless, the university is pushing the narrative that this course is far more substantive than it is:
According to Vice News’ Munchies, the class stems from a growing Latino population in the United States, especially in the south, noting Kentucky has one of the largest growing populations of Hispanics in the United States, based on statistics gathered by the Pew Research Center in 2014.
“We’re examining transnational community food literacies and how these connect the stories of people and food across borders,” says Steven Alvarez, the instructor of the course, to Munchies. Alvarez is an associate professor in the University of Kentucky’s Writing, Rhetoric and Digital Studies department.
“We explore the history of networks of Mexican and Mexican-American food in Kentucky by writing about recipes and rhetorics that deal with things such as authenticity, local variations and preparations, and how food literacies situate different spaces, identity, and forms of knowledge,” Alvarez further stated.
“I make my students post on Instagram and use hashtags as a form of archiving. I also make them watch MUNCHIES episodes. I make my students read their restaurant reviews out loud, too,” Alvarez stated, adding such assignments are “storytelling” genres.
A liberal arts education at one of the nation's institutions of higher learning used to mean something. The classics were embraced, (true) history was taught with fervor, literacy was paramount. In today's day and age, however, Hamlet has been replaced by Tacopedia as universities seek to find new ways of pushing their political agendas while retaining the attention of ADD-addled students.