We are deeply concerned with the academic integrity and the reputation of Harvard Kennedy School and the University as a whole. It has been recently made public by the Washington Post and the New York Times that in 2009 the Kennedy School accepted a dissertation written by Jason Richwine which claims that “Immigrants living in the US today do not have the same level of cognitive ability as natives” (Richwine Dissertation, 26). Richwine goes on to state that “the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against” (Richwine Dissertation, 66) and argues for an immigration policy based on IQ. 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 at the bottom (Richwine Dissetation, 74). To justify his assertions he cites largely discredited sources such as J. Philippe Rushton whose work enshrines the idea that there are geneticallyrooted differences in cognitive ability between racial groups.
We condemn in unequivocal terms these racist claims as unfit for Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard University as a whole. Granting permission for such a dissertation to be published debases all of our degrees and hurts the University’s reputation.
In his own statement on the Richwine incident, Kennedy School Dean David Ellwood defended the academic process’ ability to weed out bad ideas, and noted that “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.” The statement also notes that Richwine’s dissertation was “reviewed by a committee of scholars” and it does not question the school’s decision to accept it.
(HT: Scott Jaschik)