Jason Richwine, who resigned after his 2009 doctoral dissertation on immigrants having lower IQs than white natives surfaced, is seeing his thesis become the target of complaints from Harvard students asking for a university investigation into how his research was approved.
“We are deeply concerned with the academic integrity and the reputation of Harvard Kennedy School and the University as a whole,” the petition began. “Central to his claim is the idea that certain groups are genetically predisposed to be more intelligent than others. In his troubling worldview Asians are generally at the top, with whites in the middle, Hispanics follow, and African-Americans [are] at the bottom,” it continued.
The petition was presented to Harvard Kennedy School Dean David T. Ellwood, who released a statement to NBC Latino.
“I most certainly understand that this issue, as reported, troubles many people,” Ellwood said. “First, the views and conclusions of any graduate of this school are theirs alone, and do not represent the views of Harvard or the Kennedy School. Second, all Ph.D. dissertations are reviewed by a committee of scholars.”
He added that the committee consisted of three highly respected and discerning faculty members who come from diverse intellectual traditions.
“Finally and most importantly, it is vital that an active and open debate of ideas occur in Universities and beyond them,” he continued. “Scholars and others who disagree with particular ideas or methods or who are unhappy with conclusions can and must openly engage in reasoned discussion and criticism, after looking fully and carefully at the work. It is through ongoing vigorous give and take that good ideas will ultimately emerge and weaker ones can be displaced.”
NBC Latino has repeatedly reached out to Richwine for comment on the reaction to his dissertation but has not received a response. immigration-thesis/6Izovn4svIW6jvlm7VSDFO/story.html” target=”_blank”>
According to the Boston Globe, Richwine took issue with the student petition. “I wonder what thoughts they would seek to ban in the future,’’ he said. “This is a really worrisome idea here, that the students want to dictate what scholarship will be allowed at Harvard University.”
Fernando Berdion Del Valle, a student spokesman for the petition and Kennedy School masters candidate in public policy, said that as a son of two Hispanic immigrants, he was angered by the dissertation.
“For me, it was important to get involved in this effort because this issue affects all of us,” he said. “It’s not just about Hispanics or Latinos. It’s about all Americans who believe that research can be open, academically rigorous, and ethically sound.”
Berdion Del Valle said it’s important to remember that research funded and approved by Harvard has an impact on real-world policies.
“If Harvard doesn’t apply rigorous academic standards for its research, how can we guarantee our policy discussions are not affected by irresponsible scholarship?”