Following up on my previous posts (links below):
Cass Sunstein (Harvard), The Problem With All Those Liberal Professors:
The paucity of Republicans at many top schools hurts everyone.
Suppose that you start college with a keen interest in physics, and you quickly discover that almost all members of the physics department are Democrats. Would you think that something is wrong? Would your answer be different if your favorite subject is music, chemistry, computer science, anthropology or sociology?
In recent years, concern has grown over what many people see as a left-of-center political bias at colleges and universities. A few months ago, Mitchell Langbert, an associate professor of business at Brooklyn College, published a study of the political affiliations of faculty members at 51 of the 66 liberal-arts colleges ranked highest by U.S. News in 2017. The findings are eye-popping (even if they do not come as a great surprise to many people in academia).
Democrats dominate most fields. In religion, Langbert’s survey found that the ratio of Democrats to Republicans is 70 to 1. In music, it is 33 to 1. In biology, it is 21 to 1. In philosophy, history and psychology, it is 17 to 1. In political science, it is 8 to 1.
The gap is narrower in science and engineering. In physics, economics and mathematics, the ratio is about 6 to 1. In chemistry, it is 5 to 1, and in engineering, it is just 1.6 to 1. Still, Lambert found no field in which Republicans are more numerous than Democrats. ...
For two reasons, these numbers, and others like them, are genuinely disturbing.
The first involves potential discrimination on the part of educational institutions. Some departments might be disinclined to hire potential faculty members based on their political convictions. ...
The second reason is that students are less likely to get a good education, and faculty members are likely to learn less from one another, if there is a prevailing political orthodoxy. Students and faculty might end up in a kind of information cocoon. ...
John Stuart Mill put it well: “It is hardly possible to overrate the value ... of placing human beings in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Such communication has always been, and is peculiarly in the present age, one of the primary sources of progress.”
Mark Pulliam (Law & Liberty; Retired Partner, Latham & Watkins), Ideological Balance Is Essential to Sound Pedagogy in Legal Academia:
[N]either the ABA nor the AALS shows the slightest interest in promoting opportunities for the most underrepresented group of all in legal academia: conservative professors. Georgetown University law professor Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz quips that there are more conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court than on Georgetown’s 120-person faculty, but his larger point is no joke: “Elite law faculties are overwhelmingly liberal.” The dearth of conservatives on law school faculties, especially at elite institutions, is well-documented. This imbalance creates a serious pedagogical defect. Indeed, the paltry number of right-of-center faculty members are disproportionately libertarian rather than conservative, further tilting the ideological imbalance in the academy.
Failing to ensure ideological diversity diminishes the quality of legal education. Without a robust diversity of opinions, classrooms become echo chambers for the left-of-center orthodoxy that now dominates legal scholarship. This is unfortunate, because students exposed to only one side of contentious legal and policy debates are less tolerant of opposing views, and may be less capable of zealously advocating their clients’ varied interests upon graduation. Rosenkranz notes the incongruity of lopsided faculties in disciplines—such as law—predicated on the adversarial system, which depends on robust debates to reveal the truth. When balance is lacking, rigorous debate is impossible. The result is intellectual laziness, complacency, and myopia in the academy. Rosenkranz concludes that “Intellectual diversity matters to students. Without it, they are getting only half of a legal education”—if that. ...
The U.S. Department of Education, and the state supreme courts which have entrusted the ABA with quasi-governmental powers in this area, must not allow the nation’s law schools to become monolithic progressive enclaves, indoctrinating students with leftist dogma posing as scholarship. Some reformers have described the status quo as “the left’s Kulturkampf.” It is worse than that. “Kulturkampf” refers to a struggle for control; the Left’s current domination of legal academia constitutes a rout. The ABA’s abysmal dereliction in this critically-important area justifies a re-evaluation of its supervisory role.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage: