Former Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin has joined Harvard University as a visiting scholar.
According to an official press release, the conservative pundit and reality television star will teach four courses over three years at Harvard’s prestigious Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass., beginning in fall 2013.
The transition to academia comes just weeks after Palin was unceremoniously released form her contract at Fox News, which had served as her primary source of income since 2009.
The former Alaskan governor will focus her classes on topics close to her heart, including the war on terror, welfare reform, U.S. evangelicals, and oil and gas development.
She will also join Harvard’s Consortium for Energy Policy Research, and is expected to contribute several peer-reviewed research papers concerning the economic efficiency of Alaska’s oil-funded sovereign wealth fund.
Some have reacted with surprise to Palin’s move to academic life, given her public reputation as an anti-intellectual. However, David T. Ellwood, the dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School, says there is nothing unusual about the appointment.
“World-class universities routinely hire former high-level public officials to teach courses on a visiting basis,” Ellwood says. “We already have former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke on staff. Spain’s ex-prime minister taught at Georgetown. And Tony Blair teaches at Yale.
“As a former governor and a major-party nominee for vice president, Mrs. Palin is certainly a high-level figure. And the Kennedy School will benefit greatly from her knowledge and experience.”
Palin has reportedly already been spotted house hunting in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston. Local real estate agent Phillip Dunphy says she toured a $3 million townhouse on Chestnut Street just last week.
“We showed Mrs. Palin a great place,” Dunphy says, “but it didn’t have a big enough mantle for a moose head, so she declined to make an offer.”
According to the press release Palin’s course topics seem quite advanced, with a heavy emphasis on the practical application of political philosophy.
The list of her courses includes:
- John Locke and the State of Exception: Extrajudicial Executive Action In the Age of Terror
- The Evolutionary Psychology of The Welfare State
- Pascal, Chateaubriand and The Modern U.S. Evangelical Movement
- The Geopolitics of Arctic Hydrocarbon Resource Development
Despite the impressive curricula, some Harvard students are skeptical about their new professor’s ability to deliver the intellectually challenging experience they’ve come to expect.
“Sarah Palin?,” exclaims a shocked Dalia Richmond, a second-year masters student in public policy. “The same woman who said her foreign policy experience is seeing Russia from her house? What’s she qualified to teach? How to tie a shoe?”
A spokesperson for Palin said that the governor was “thrilled” to be working at Harvard, and hoped to bring a little “Wasilla main street” to the Ivy Towers of America’s most venerated university.
When contacted by The Daily Currant, Harvard declined to provide information on Palin’s salary and benefit package.