Thursday, March 31, 2005

Oh, That Liberal Academia

A new, scholarly study of the political views of university faculty confirms that contemporary academia is dominated by the left. The results appear in the March 2005 issue of The Forum, an online peer-reviewed journal:

A randomly based national survey of 1643 faculty members from 183 four-year colleges and universities finds that liberals and Democrats outnumber conservatives and Republicans by large margins, and the differences are not limited to elite universities or to the social sciences and humanities. A multivariate analysis finds that, even after taking into account the effects of professional accomplishment, along with many other individual characteristics, conservatives and Republicans teach at lower quality schools than do liberals and Democrats. This suggests that complaints of ideologically-based discrimination in academic advancement deserve serious consideration and further study. The analysis finds similar effects based on gender and religiosity, i.e., women and practicing Christians teach at lower quality schools than their professional accomplishments would predict.

Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty
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Howard Kurtz, writing in Tuesday's Washington Post, summarizes the study's findings as follows:

By their own description, 72 percent of those teaching at American universities and colleges are liberal and 15 percent are conservative, says the study being published this week. The imbalance is almost as striking in partisan terms, with 50 percent of the faculty members surveyed identifying themselves as Democrats and 11 percent as Republicans.

The survey results show that liberals predominate across the academic spectrum:

The most liberal faculties are those devoted to the humanities (81 percent) and social sciences (75 percent), according to the study. But liberals outnumbered conservatives even among engineering faculty (51 percent to 19 percent) and business faculty (49 percent to 39 percent).

As long as academia remains a de facto one-party state, it will continue to be plagued by an atmosphere of ideological conformity that makes a mockery of the idea of free inquiry. Intellectual and ideological diversity in higher education is in everyone's interests.


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