American Higher Ed Leans Left!

mactastic

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American professors are overwhelmingly liberal, according to a new report on faculty political attitudes.


Previous surveys have reached similar conclusions, but this one suggests that the ideological divide on campuses may be greater than has previously been thought. And the authors of this survey say that their evidence suggests say that conservatives, practicing Christians and women are less likely than others to get faculty jobs at top colleges.


The research, published in The Forum, is being praised as path-breaking by some scholars and as garbage by others. But since the study is being released at a time of heightened debate over charges of classroom bias, the report is likely to be closely examined and critiqued.


The findings are based on a survey of 1,643 faculty members at 183 four-year colleges and universities, and the results were analyzed by three political scientists: Stanley Rothman of Smith College, S. Robert Lichter of George Mason University and Neil Nevitte of the University of Toronto. In the abstract to their report, they say that the research “suggests that complaints of ideologically based discrimination in academic advancement deserve serious consideration and further study.”


Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the Modern Language Association, said that the implication that liberal faculty members were keeping conservative scholars out was “rubbish,” and said that anyone who has been on dozens of search committees, as she has, knows that. “It boggles my mind the degree to which this is rubbish.”


The Findings


Faculty members in the study were asked to place themselves on the political spectrum, and 72 percent identified as liberal while only 15 percent identified as conservative, with the remainder in the middle. The professors were also asked about party affiliation, and here the breakdown was 50 percent Democrats, 11 percent Republicans, and the rest independent and third parties.


The study also broke down the findings by academic discipline, and found that humanities faculty members were the most likely (81 percent) to be liberal. The liberal percentage was at its highest in English literature (88 percent), followed by performing arts and psychology (both 84 percent), fine arts (83 percent), political science (81 percent).


Other fields have more balance. The liberal-conservative split is 61-29 in education, 55-39 in economics, 53-47 in nursing, 51-19 in engineering, and 49-39 in business.


Beyond general political identification, the professors were asked for views on specific issues, and here too, the authors find faculty backing for positions associated with liberal politics. Of professors, 84 percent somewhat or strongly agree that women should have the right to have abortions, and 88 percent agree that policies should favor environmental protection even if those policies result in higher prices and fewer jobs.


The report’s authors say that their findings suggest a “sharp shift to the left” from earlier studies, which found more ideological balance. But in fact numerous studies have made similar findings (although in many cases less detailed) in recent years.


“The American College Teacher” is a major study by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles that features some questions on politics. The last survey, in 2001, found that 5.3 percent of faculty members were far left, 42.3 percent were liberal, 34.3 percent were middle of the road, 17.7 percent were conservative, and 0.3 percent were far right. Those figures are only marginally different from the previous survey, in 1998.


Unlike the survey released this week, the UCLA survey includes faculty members at community colleges, and those faculty members are more evenly split than their four-year counterparts, with 33.3 percent identifying as liberal, 41.1 percent as middle of the road, and 22 percent as conservative.


The new study published in The Forum also attempts to look at the impact of the ideological split on college faculties.


So the authors devised an “academic achievement index” of* faculty members by looking at such factors as books written, journal articles and service on editorial boards. Then the authors looked at certain factors, such as political views, whether someone was religious (defined as attending services “at least once or twice a month"), and gender. The authors then tracked where scholars ended up to see whether there was a relationship between various factors in their backgrounds and whether they ended up at top colleges.


The authors report that among scholars with equivalent academic achievements, liberals are more likely than conservatives to be at top colleges. The scholars also found a negative correlation for being a practicing Christian to getting positions at top colleges (but not for observant Jews) and for women.


In the conclusion to the report, the authors acknowledge that their findings on possible discrimination against conservatives, Christians and women are “preliminary.” But they go on to say that “these results suggest that conservative complaints of the presence and effects of liberal homogeneity in academia deserve to be taken seriously, despite their self-interested quality and the anecdotal nature of the evidence previously presented.”
In other news, the pope has been found to be - of all things - a Catholic. ;)

Seriously though, I'm sure this will be all over the wing-nutOsphere as proof those evil liberals are out to brainwash our impressionable youth.

And I'm just as sure that while the bias against conservatives and Christians will be hyped to the max, the bias noted against women will be left out.
 

mischief

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Aug 1, 2001
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mactastic said:
Link



In other news, the pope has been found to be - of all things - a Catholic. ;)

Seriously though, I'm sure this will be all over the wing-nutOsphere as proof those evil liberals are out to brainwash our impressionable youth.

And I'm just as sure that while the bias against conservatives and Christians will be hyped to the max, the bias noted against women will be left out.
The whole Liberal Vs. Conservative schtick has worn more than thin... it's a tattered wreck.

I, for example place firmly to the left of Ghandi in conservative-origin studies but place to the right of hitler in liberal-origin studies. This is because I have views that are radically centrist.
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
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haha i guess im in the most liberal area of college then in the English Department, and i want to be an English Professor, and yes i am very very liberal....
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Conservative educator, conservative artist, conservative journalist... if these things are oxymoronic, then who's fault is that?
 

zimv20

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Jul 18, 2002
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link

mr krugman weighs in...

An Academic Question

It's a fact, documented by two recent studies, that registered Republicans and self-proclaimed conservatives make up only a small minority of professors at elite universities. But what should we conclude from that?

Conservatives see it as compelling evidence of liberal bias in university hiring and promotion. And they say that new "academic freedom" laws will simply mitigate the effects of that bias, promoting a diversity of views. But a closer look both at the universities and at the motives of those who would police them suggests a quite different story.

Claims that liberal bias keeps conservatives off college faculties almost always focus on the humanities and social sciences, where judgments about what constitutes good scholarship can seem subjective to an outsider. But studies that find registered Republicans in the minority at elite universities show that Republicans are almost as rare in hard sciences like physics and in engineering departments as in softer fields. Why?

One answer is self-selection - the same sort of self-selection that leads Republicans to outnumber Democrats four to one in the military. The sort of person who prefers an academic career to the private sector is likely to be somewhat more liberal than average, even in engineering.

But there's also, crucially, a values issue. In the 1970's, even Democrats like Daniel Patrick Moynihan conceded that the Republican Party was the "party of ideas." Today, even Republicans like Representative Chris Shays concede that it has become the "party of theocracy."

Consider the statements of Dennis Baxley, a Florida legislator who has sponsored a bill that - like similar bills introduced in almost a dozen states - would give students who think that their conservative views aren't respected the right to sue their professors. Mr. Baxley says that he is taking on "leftists" struggling against "mainstream society," professors who act as "dictators" and turn the classroom into a "totalitarian niche." His prime example of academic totalitarianism? When professors say that evolution is a fact.

In its April Fools' Day issue, Scientific American published a spoof editorial in which it apologized for endorsing the theory of evolution just because it's "the unifying concept for all of biology and one of the greatest scientific ideas of all time," saying that "as editors, we had no business being persuaded by mountains of evidence." And it conceded that it had succumbed "to the easy mistake of thinking that scientists understand their fields better than, say, U.S. senators or best-selling novelists do."

The editorial was titled "O.K., We Give Up." But it could just as well have been called "Why So Few Scientists Are Republicans These Days." Thirty years ago, attacks on science came mostly from the left; these days, they come overwhelmingly from the right, and have the backing of leading Republicans.

Scientific American may think that evolution is supported by mountains of evidence, but President Bush declares that "the jury is still out." Senator James Inhofe dismisses the vast body of research supporting the scientific consensus on climate change as a "gigantic hoax." And conservative pundits like George Will write approvingly about Michael Crichton's anti-environmentalist fantasies.

Think of the message this sends: today's Republican Party - increasingly dominated by people who believe truth should be determined by revelation, not research - doesn't respect science, or scholarship in general. It shouldn't be surprising that scholars have returned the favor by losing respect for the Republican Party.

Conservatives should be worried by the alienation of the universities; they should at least wonder if some of the fault lies not in the professors, but in themselves. Instead, they're seeking a Lysenkoist solution that would have politics determine courses' content.

And it wouldn't just be a matter of demanding that historians play down the role of slavery in early America, or that economists give the macroeconomic theories of Friedrich Hayek as much respect as those of John Maynard Keynes. Soon, biology professors who don't give creationism equal time with evolution and geology professors who dismiss the view that the Earth is only 6,000 years old might face lawsuits.

If it got that far, universities would probably find ways to cope - by, say, requiring that all entering students sign waivers. But political pressure will nonetheless have a chilling effect on scholarship. And that, of course, is its purpose.
 

stubeeef

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Aug 10, 2004
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There is a very simple answer to why Univerisities are staffed with teachers/professors that lean liberal.

Those that can do, those that can't teach.

And they can hear themselves talk all day too!
 

mactastic

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Yeah while we're at it we ought to make sure the military isn't a bastion of conservative indoctriniation, don'tcha think?

And I wonder what the results would be if we ran this kind of survey of say the boards of the Forbes 500? Would there be an overwhelming conservative bias? And aren't those folks indoctrinating our citizens just as surely as any radical professor?

Free speech only applies if you agree with the conservative majority it seems. And that's what they bitch about liberals for. :rolleyes:
 

ldburroughs

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Feb 25, 2005
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There are some obvious exceptions!

There are some very obvious exceptions ... www.regent.edu, for example. I have yet to meet a pure liberal anywhere on the campus. Unless, of course, you count the number of guests they've invited for forum/panel discussions. You can only imagine how the Con Law or Family Law courses are in the law school:) To put it mildly, it is not your average law school. There is not a single prominent left leaning organization affilliated with the school. For better or worse, John Ashcroft is even teaching there in the fall as an adjunct professor in the law and government program. It is the home of the American Center for Law and Justice and its fearless lead counsel, Jay Sekulow, also an adjunct professor. They take the exception to a new level. It is good to see an exception to the general trend in society. Now if we could just work on Harvard or Yale ... those Mac loving, left leaning liberals ;)
 

wordmunger

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Sep 3, 2003
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Chris at Mixing Memory has some great thoughts on this issue:

The issue Todd is discussing in this paragraph is not the ideologically diversity of university professors, but of the ideas they present in their courses. But Todd doesn't present any evidence of a lack of ideological diversity in classroom material, and neither do any of the studies he and other conservatives cite. They only look at professors' political orientations.
And

My feeling is that in the most departments (the natural sciences, most of the social sciences, applied fields like engineering and medicine, and even in many humanities departments), political orientation is completely irrelevant irrelevant. There is absolutely no reason to worry about diversity on this dimension. In departments where political orientation may be relevant, such as political science, how much would diversity improve education? To what extent would students come away with a more diverse education, if they studied at a university at a more politically diverse institution? I doubt anyone can answer that question effectively now, and until someone goes out and gather the relevant data, all of the posturing by conservatives seems misguided to me.
link

In another post, he discusses the lack of evidence for significant discrimination due to political affiliation:

How much of the variance do "political ideology" and party affiliation" explain? Less than 1% (β = .086 and .073 for the "ideology" and affiliation regressions, respectively). Less than 1%! (By way of contrast, the acheivement index accounts for around 15% of the variance). So is there discrimination? Apparently, but not a whole hell of a lot. Interestingly, if we were to conclude from very small but statistically significant (with a large N, and only a few parameters) that ideology-based discrimination exists, we would also have to admit that institution-wide gender-based discrimination exists. In other words, conservatives who want to use this study to argue that ideology-based discrimination exists, will have to change their tune on the existence of gender-based discrimination, as gender accounted for almost as much of the variance in academic success as political ideology (less than 1%, β = .06).
link
 

mactastic

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ldburroughs said:
I'd like to point out that this is not a very fair source. It is, after all, the New York Times :rolleyes:
Duly noted. :rolleyes:

You did note that it is, after all, an opinion piece?
 

zimv20

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ldburroughs said:
I'd like to point out that this is not a very fair source. It is, after all, the New York Times :rolleyes:
first, it's an opinion piece.

second, the reason we link to articles and give credit (in this case, "mr krugman weighs in"), is so that you, the casual reader, can consider the source and form your own opinion on the matter. just because you don't find value in what the NYT prints (and really, basing your objection on the fact it's the Times, rather than it's paul krugman, gives away your uninformed bias), doesn't mean that no one else does.
 

feakbeak

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Oct 16, 2003
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stubeeef said:
There is a very simple answer to why Univerisities are staffed with teachers/professors that lean liberal.

Those that can do, those that can't teach.

And they can hear themselves talk all day too!
I obtained my degree in secondary education for math and science. I thought teaching was too difficult (to do well, it's easy to do poorly) and I didn't want to deal with such a structured (read: bull$#it) system. So, I decided to "do" instead of "teach". I now make twice as much money as I would in teaching as a software developer and, IMO, my job is much easier.

So I propose...

"Those who can, teach. Those who can't, find some less meaningful line of work."

I could use the counter-argument that liberals care more about ideals than money and so they teach. Most teachers/professors do not make very good money. The conservatives are just attracted to money and don't care about values, educating the youth or research so they go into business. Both are inaccurate generalizations - but there must be something of truth causing these descrepencies. There does seem to be more liberal profs and more conservative bankers. :confused:
 

IJ Reilly

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An assumption apparently built-in to the study cited, and to many of the comments upon it, is that any given individual's ideology automatically results in biased behavior. Is that really so? Isn't it incumbent on the people who are making charges of bias to demonstrate that actual bias exists, rather than play a numbers game based entirely upon ideological and essentially arbitrary labels? Isn't this a lot like making a case for creating quotas for minorities based strictly upon the numbers instead of upon some evidence of actual discrimination?
 

mactastic

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Stub, you make me sick. I'm so glad I have you on ignore and only have to read your tripe when someone quotes it. As the husband of a very effective teacher I can tell you that your statement is so full of crap it's not even worth taking you seriously... ever. And if you put that little rationale into the rest of your thoughts I have serious doubts about the rest of your worldview.
 

atszyman

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Sep 16, 2003
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OT trivia

mactastic said:
In other news, the pope has been found to be - of all things - a Catholic. ;)
That may not be the case in a few weeks. However any further discussion on this probably needs it's own thread.

link

Jean-Marie Lustiger
Country: France (Archbishop of Paris)
Age: 79
Assets: Jewish? Shore up Old Europe Christendom.
Liabilities: Jewish! Too old.

Lustiger's mother, a Jew, was killed at Auschwitz. If the cardinals wanted to generate excitement in Europe, choosing Lustiger sure would be a dramatic way to do it.

Do Jews consider him Jewish? Technically, yes. As Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy, said, "According to Jewish law, a person born to a Jewish mother is Jewish, and being Jewish is not something a person can renounce. However … the Jewish community does not normally relate to such a person as a Jew."

Lustiger is, Telushkin says, popular with Parisian Jews, but other pundits feel that many Jews would be outraged if he were chosen. "Electing him would be a disaster for Catholic-Jewish relations," says Reese. "Some Jews would see this as the church putting him up as an example of what Jews should do."

What probably really rules him out now is his age. Since the mandatory retirement age for cardinals is 75, it might be a bit awkward moral-authority-wise for the pope to bust the cap. So, we probably will never get to find out whether Jewish mothers around the world would have told their children that some day they could grow up to be a doctor, a lawyer, or a pope.
 

stubeeef

macrumors 68030
Aug 10, 2004
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feakbeak said:
I obtained my degree in secondary education for math and science. I thought teaching was too difficult (to do well, it's easy to do poorly) and I didn't want to deal with such a structured (read: bull$#it) system. So, I decided to "do" instead of "teach". I now make twice as much money as I would in teaching as a software developer and, IMO, my job is much easier.

So I propose...

"Those who can, teach. Those who can't, find some less meaningful line of work."

I could use the counter-argument that liberals care more about ideals than money and so they teach. Most teachers/professors do not make very good money. The conservatives are just attracted to money and don't care about values, educating the youth or research so they go into business. Both are inaccurate generalizations - but there must be something of truth causing these descrepencies. There does seem to be more liberal profs and more conservative bankers. :confused:
You are quite correct, I mostly said my piece in sarcasm, it was meant for some people, about 8 of which I have on an ignore. I am nearl positive it will spool them into spasms.

If they can remember, my mother is a retired teacher, and my wife is presently a teacher. As I have mentioned numerous times, to deaf ears, I want to triple of more money spent on education. It is a major shame how little education is a priority in the US. While I think nclb is better than the nothing that came before it, it is lacking.
What we need to do is drastically increase salaries for teachers in primary schools and lure talent from the private sector.
Teachers working second jobs and summer jobs is as outrageous as soldiers on food stamps.

Oh well, at least you didn't do the auto bite at the conservative comment, cudos!
 

zimv20

macrumors 601
Jul 18, 2002
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toronto
mactastic said:
As the husband of a very effective teacher I can tell you that your statement is so full of crap it's not even worth taking you seriously
thank you for saying so.

i'm dating a teacher and her passion for her work and students borders on the obsessive. and she's sure not doing it for the money.
 

IJ Reilly

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Jul 16, 2002
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Hmm, interesting. I have only one current/recent poster to this forum on ignore, and I can't think of any good reason to poke or prod them into fits of anything.
 

mactastic

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You gotta figure it's just like Stub to say something just to be an ass. An ass-troll more specifically.

Oh well it's just the kind of guy he is...
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
1
Michigan
Looks like I just stepped into the middle of something.

*quietly takes a few steps back*

Well, I don't have any issues with any of you. I do wish education in the US was a higher priority. Many social issues stem, at least in part, from the ignorance of individuals or the public in general. However, the abundance of ignorance is a key ingredient to keeping our social system rolling. If we significantly improved education in the US, it might cause our system to work improperly. I think we'd all be better off in the long run, but I'm sure there would be some growing pains involved.

Education is a topic I feel strongly about but I'll refrain from getting on my soapbox. :)
 

mactastic

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feakbeak said:
Education is a topic I feel strongly about but I'll refrain from getting on my soapbox. :)
By all means, soapbox all you want. I wouldn't mind hearing more about your views on education, it's a subject that's near and dear to my heart as well. I have no problems with anyone who wants to put together a well-argued point. I just don't like trolls who post specifically to piss others off.