Professor rolls out scholars program aimed at ending 'wokeism' in corporate America

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A new scholars program for undergraduates at Troy University in Troy, Alabama, aims to educate students with the principles of the free market to combat woke ideology in corporate America.

"We really believe that businesses acting ethically in good faith follow rules, treat others with respect and enable cooperation and trust among diverse individuals, and that businesses provide value by producing goods and services that make our lives easier and better," Professor Allen Mendenhall, who is spearheading the Free Enterprise Scholars program, which begins this fall semester, told Fox News Digital.

"They don't need to adopt ‘wokeism’ or social justice initiatives, they already contribute to society," he added.

The voluntary program hosted by the privately-funded Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy at Troy University has so far accepted nine students, who will spend the semester reading and discussing a wide range of texts, such as "Seven Deadly Economic Sins" by Jim Otteson and "Woke, Inc.," by Vivek Ramaswamy.

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Students will also listen to and cultivate relationships with monthly speakers, as well receive training in writing op-eds. The program aims to include an annual keynote address from journalists who specialize in commerce and business economics.

Mendenhall said he and his colleague Professor Dan Sutter found impetus to start the program upon reading "Woke, Inc.," which explored what author Ramaswamy characterized as the detrimental cultural effect that woke, politically correct ideology is having as it seeps into U.S. corporations.

"The call for businesses to be socially responsible presumes that they're actually socially irresponsible presently," said Mendenhall. "But the irony is that when honest businesses pursue ‘wokeism,’ they become irresponsible and begin to act unethically."

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Professor Allen Mendenhall, who serves as associate dean of the Sorrell College at Troy University (Allen Mendenhall)

"The interesting thing about ‘wokeism’ is it undermines historically liberal principles like equality under the law, due process and freedom of speech, which are hard-won principles that developed over the course of centuries. And they're all being thrown out the window in pursuit of an incoherent doctrine," he continued.

Referencing linguist John McWhorter's book "Woke Racism," he noted that elements of woke ideology have seemingly taken on a nearly religious tone.

Picking out one or two reasons why corporations would embrace woke ideology is difficult, said Mendenhall, but he emphasized the impact of young people "who cause a big fuss." 

Troy University bell tower in Troy, Alabama, on July 6, 2018. (Raymond Boyd/Getty Images / Getty Images)

Mendenhall said the response to the scholars program has been "mostly positive" so far.

"I've heard mostly from people who appreciate the program as an important counter narrative to what's being taught by the legacy media, most universities and Big Tech. Of course, I've received some angry responses, but most of those have been sort of unhinged rants rather than thoughtful, principled replies," he said.

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"I think we're seeing an interesting backlash against corporate wokeism," he added.

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