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Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Whittington: The Value Of Ideological Diversity Among University Faculty

Keith E. Whittington (Princeton), The Value of Ideological Diversity Among University Faculty, 37 Soc. Phil. & Pol’y 90 (2021):

Conservatives in the United States have grown increasingly critical of universities and their faculty, convinced that professors are ideologues from the political left. Universities, for their part, have increasingly adopted a mantra of diversity and inclusivity, but have shown little interest in diversifying the political and ideological profile of their faculties. This essay argues that the lack of political diversity among American university faculty hampers the ability of universities to fulfill their core mission of advancing and dissemination knowledge. The argument is advanced through a series of four questions: Is it true that university faculty are not ideologically diverse? Why might it be true? Does it matter? How might it be fixed?

Keith E. Whittington (Princeton), The Value of Ideological Diversity in Academia:

As part of an issue dedicated to freedom of thought in the journal Social Philosophy and Policy, I published on article focusing on ideological diversity on the faculty at American universities. … 

The paper takes up four questions. First, is it true that university faculty are not very ideologically diverse. It is remarkable how frequently this claim is denied, but we actually have a substantial amount of empirical evidence over many decades that pretty decisively demonstrate American academia is a political monoculture. As I summarize:

The evidence on the political diversity the American professoriate is imperfect, but it seems quite adequate to conclude that the answer is not very diverse and rapidly becoming less so. We now have a substantial amount of data gathered at different times, using different measures, across different institutions that sheds some light on the political composition of the faculty at universities in the United States, and it all points in a consistent direction.

There is more to be learned to be sure. The evidence that we have does not cover the range of institutions and the range of disciplines that we might like. There is some real slippage in how political and ideological orientations map on to one another. There are some narrow questions that we are not yet well positioned to answer about the ideological composition of university faculty, but we probably have adequate evidence to answer the big picture question of whether university faculty are particularly ideologically diverse. The answer is no.

The first section of the paper walks through the empirical studies on this question over the past seven decades. University professors are overwhelmingly left-leaning Democrats, and that has become only more true over time.

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