Thursday, November 16, 2006

Higher Education at Conestoga College

Conestoga College is a community college based in Kitchener and three surrounding communities. They offer a large variety of useful courses in electronics, business, and other subjects.

Unfortunately, they also offer several courses that don't belong at a community college. These courses, as described in the Conestoga College catalogue for Winter 2007, make truth claims about ESP, psychic powers, astral projections, auras, and homeopathy that have no factual basis. I would not object to a course exploring these topics provided no truth claims were made. For example, a course carefully examining the evidence for and against psychic powers would be welcome. These courses apparently don't do that. Here are the descriptions:

Homeopathic Medicine - An Introduction

This 200-year-old system of healing is based on the principles of "like cures like", using tiny doses of plant, animal and mineral substances to stimulate the body to recover its balance. Learn about the philosophy and history of homeopathic medicine and the top 10 remedies homeopathy has to offer.

The Psychic World

This one-day seminar will help you to develop the dynamic powers of your mind. The course will cover such topics as E.S.P. games to increase your own abilities, learn how to meditate, how to see auras and decipher what the colours mean. We will discuss how to interpret your dreams and control them, Astral projection and more.

Advanced Psychic World

Advanced Psychic World continues where 'The Psychic World' left off. It will cover such topics as: alternative realities, ley lines, other styles of meditation, and astral projection. The class will be taken on two group projections. Students will need to bring a blanket and pillow.

Reincarnation - Who Were You?

This one-day workshop explores the possibility of past lives and what karma is. It gives some very interesting theories as to why bad things do happen to good people and why you are where you are today. This class also includes three group past-life regressions which may help the students to remember their previous lives. A blanket and pillow is needed for this class. The students should wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.

Why is Conestoga College sponsoring such nonsense? Who is in charge of approving the curriculum and how did these courses get approved? Call Conestoga College President John Tibbits at (519) 748-5220 and ask. Or send him e-mail at At the very least, Conestoga College should add a disclaimer to their catalogue saying that they do not endorse this pseudoscience.


Anonymous said...

It's not like these are semester long lecture series with accredited faculty (I'm guessing).

These sound like 'The Learning Annex'/cooperative extension/student run money makers, i.e. not any part of a recommended curriculum (for, say, dental hygienist).

As to factual basis...I'm sure there have been some attempts at creating experimental tests for these subjects (er.. except for reincarnation maybe?). And, to be impertinent, how many experiments are done in the more liberal of liberal arts like literature and fine arts?

Whatever the subject, the line

"Students will need to bring a
blanket and pillow."

is most certainly a student oriented class.

jedar said...

Do you know why we need blankets and pillows for reincarnation 101???

Jeffrey Shallit said...

If they're not approved courses, the Conestoga College catalogue should have a disclaimer. That would be a first step towards honesty.

Jeffrey Shallit said...

I suspect the pillow is needed so students can easily stifle their laughter when the instructor makes an outrageous claim. The blanket is for hiding your head in shame that you got suckered into taking such a course.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if turning the college over to cranks and quacks in the evenings is a common practice here in Ontario? Conestoga sounds similar to Durham College here in Oshawa. Durham offers several continuing education courses of dubious value, such as Crystals & the Chakras, Angel Connections, Crystal Balls, and Tarot card reading.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard back from Dr. Tibbits?

Jeffrey Shallit said...

No, anonymous, I haven't heard back from Tibbits. According to the First Principle of Canadian University Administration, administrators should avoid, as long as possible, answering any questions about their decisions. If they do eventually respond, they must never, ever reverse a decision.

Anonymous said...

Re: no answer from Tibbits

In Canada, by tradition, power is believed to ultimately come down from the crown--by royal fiat. Leaders are not accountable to the people and it is their prerrogative whether to deign to reply to the requests of their subjects.