All MA students in my graduate program (social sciences) are required to take a course titled 'Thought and Theory'. Ostensibly, the course should serve as an in-depth introduction for students to the contemporary debates and prevailing theories and schools of thought in our discipline. (This is particularly important as there are many students in the program who are new to the discipline, and because the discipline is very broad-reaching.) Students should, at the end of the course, be able to situate their thinking in the overarching disciplinary conversation.
For the first time, this course is being taught not by a social theorist, but by a professor who's specialization is more technical. Instead of assigning foundational texts or the significant thinkers in our field, the professor downloaded the past 20 years worth of publications in one of the field's journals, ran a textual analysis of it, and calculated the articles that had the highest 'centrality score'. We are reading only those articles, most of which have been highly technical, not theoretical, and which offer only a very narrow view of what is going on the discipline.
The students are extremely upset, and feel like we are losing out on an important educational experience. The professor has been unwilling to budge from his pedagogical position, despite many students expressing their exasperation and confusion. He told one student that she was wrong for feeling exasperated and confused.
My question is -- how should we as a current cohort of students in the department address this? The professor himself has been unreceptive to criticism (criticism which has been very polite and often at least trying to be constructive). Do we write a joint email to the department chair? I have close working relationships with other professors in the department, but feel uncomfortable complaining to them about one of their colleagues. What is the etiquette and best course of action here?