Xerxes A. Wilson / LSU
A Louisiana State University department chairman, says has no regrets after participating as a faculty member in Fox News Channel pundit Glenn Beck's unaccredited "university."
James Stoner, head of LSU Political Science Department, is listed as a professor in Beck's university although he says he is not active in the program.
Beck's online university is advertised as a "unique learning experience bringing together a variety of experts in American History." The university's latest curriculum teaches "students" which "Presidents You Should Hate."
Stoner said he received some criticism as one of few academics tied to Beck's University, but feels it is unwarranted.
"It seems to me he obviously has his tongue in his cheek saying, 'I can do a university, too,'" Stoner said. "It's a joke, but people didn't get it."
Stoner's involvement amounted to three online lectures paired with an online chat session when each lecture aired on the website last year.
Stoner says the lectures were done without a script from Beck and only meant to be informative.
"I prepared a set of talks that are really just general introductions to the Constitution," Stoner said. "I drew on materials I use in some of my classes. They were not political talks."
Stoner's work falls under "Charity 101" on the University's website. Sections are labeled as Whose Constitution?, Federalism, Separation of Powers, Rights and Republicanism comprise Stoner's lectures.
Stoner said criticism he has received is a product of assumptions because Beck's name is tied to them.
"The tapes speak for themselves," Stoner said. "If Jon Stewart asked me to come on and speak sincerely about the Constitution, I would give almost the exact same lecture."
Stoner said he doesn't watch Beck or any of the other "talking heads," but feels Beck and Stewart are similarly "renegotiating the boundaries of news and entertainment."
After speaking to local Tea Party groups last year, Stoner said he was surprised at the number of people with a genuine interest in learning the rights and reasons within the Constitution.
"I figured this is the same audience (as the Beck University audience) and they really want to hear about the constitution. It is going to sound silly, but it almost sounded like a civic duty to speak about the constitution to these folks who want to learn about it."
Stoner said he feels there is a movement for the people to "take back ownership of the Constitution" with both the Tea Party and the democratic appeal to the youth.
"The constitution is about moderation," Stoner said. "I had a lot of friends who were really critical of my speaking to this. Pardon me, I'm teaching moderation to the Tea Party, or teaching moderation to people who might consider themselves extremists, and that is wrong?"
Subscribers can enroll in Beck University for $75 a year or $45 for six months.