Tuesday, November 09, 2004

No active or noisy elimination need occur...

Wow. Pretty strong indictment, here, from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Here is a short excerpt below....and a much longer one (so atsrtwt) here
(nod to TtwbC)

(Issue dated November 12, 2004)
Liberal Groupthink Is Anti-Intellectual
By MARK BAUERLEIN

...The public has now picked up the message that "campuses are havens for left-leaning activists," according to a Chronicle poll of 1,000 adult Americans this year. Half of those surveyed -- 68 percent who call themselves "conservative" and even 30 percent who say they are "liberal" -- agreed that colleges improperly introduce a liberal bias into what they teach. The matter, however, is clearly not just one of perception. Indeed, in another recent survey, this one conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute of the University of California at Los Angeles, faculty members themselves chose as their commitment "far left" or "liberal" more than two and a half times as often as "far right" or "conservative." As a Chronicle article last month put it: "On left-leaning campuses around the country, professors on the right feel disenfranchised."

Yet while the lack of conservative minds on college campuses is increasingly indisputable, the question remains: Why?

The obvious answer, at least in the humanities and social sciences, is that academics shun conservative values and traditions, so their curricula and hiring practices discourage non-leftists from pursuing academic careers. What allows them to do that, while at the same time they deny it, is that the bias takes a subtle form. Although I've met several conservative intellectuals in the last year who would love an academic post but have given up after years of trying, outright blackballing is rare. The disparate outcome emerges through an indirect filtering process that runs from graduate school to tenure and beyond....

... to create a livelier climate on the campus, professors must end the routine setups that pass for dialogue. Panels on issues like Iraq, racism, imperialism, and terrorism that stack the dais provide lots of passion, but little excitement. Syllabi that include the same roster of voices make learning ever more desultory. Add a few rightists, and the debate picks up. Perhaps that is the most persuasive internal case for infusing conservatism into academic discourse and activities. Without genuine dissent in the classroom and the committee room, academic life is simply boring.


Mark Bauerlein is a professor of English at Emory University and director of research at the National Endowment for the Arts.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

TtwbC doesn't necessarily agree with everything presented in the article. The best way to control the excesses of academia is to eliminate departments with more political overtones than substantive worth. And of course, more conservatives willing to endure 5+ years of graduate school would help.

Anonymous said...

Jesse sez...
I'm glad you posted this, and I would like to see it conveniently linked, perhaps way down on the sidebar. It just seems so well stated, its a nugget to keep handy. I, too, work on a campus so this just hits home for me.

Chris Lawrence said...

Tres interessant, but nothing particularly shocking, at least to present company (I suspect).

One wonders what the letters page in the Chronicle will be like in a couple of weeks...

Anonymous said...

In a recent study of professors at Stanford and Berkeley, it was found that among the younger professors, across all disciplines, including the hard sciences and engineering, and all professional schools, there were 183 Democrats and 6 Republicans.

So why do young professors in the hard sciences and engineering incline so hard to the Democratic side? Why do those even in the professional schools?

Could it be because there is something about contemporary Republican philosophy and policy that repulses intelligence of virtually any stripe? Republicans have proudly run as, effectively, anti-intellectual, courting the creationists and other kinds of ignorant wingnuts. Do the Republicans have a right to surprised or shock that intelligence and knowledge is running away from the Republican Party as fast as it can?

Anonymous said...

This is actually a quite ridiculous diagnosis. The inescapable fact is that, for most academic disciplines at least (maybe except for English?), it just isn't about "discussing" or seeing things from different viewpoints or with different bias. That is just a simple misunderstanding of what academia or an education is all about.

The problem, one suspects, is rather that most scientific disciplines (escept, maybe, e.g. for English?) are inherently anti-dogmatic - in fact, the scientific attitude is constitutively anti-dogmatic itself; you've got nothing to do in a science department if you have trouble letting go of your pet hypotheses in the face of counterevidence. And this attitude seems to sit badly with a general conservative outlook - especially in the US where 'conservative' also seems to correspond statistically with strong religious convictions.

The chronicle, however, goes down the wingnut road and offers what is, in effect, a conspiracy theory.

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