March 29, 2005
Todd Zywicki at the Volokh Conspiracy links to a story about the growing liberal dominance of University faculty. The most interesting part of the post is when he starts talking about students reaction to this. He writes,
This is consistent with what I hear from many of my own students--university campuses have become so cartoonishly left-wing that many students are essentially just tuning out their professors. Students report that they just go through the motions of pretending that they are converted, then they just regurgitate the mantra on exams in order to get a good grade. Meanwhile, many students dismiss their professors as risible ideologues (a good example here).
Perhaps the fact that students are largely unchanged by their university experience is the most damning comment of all about what is going on at universities today.
Finally, is anyone else surprised that Religious studies is self-reported as one of the most liberal departments? I would have thought if conservatives were present anywhere, it would be in religious studies.
I had some pretty liberal professors as an undergraduate, usually post modernist types, but none of them ever had a problem with me disagreeing with them as long as I did it well and some even seemed to enjoy good disagreements. I was a bit annoyed at the professors who only assigned left leaning or postmodernist texts to read and never had a professor in any department who only assigned right-leaning texts. It also depended a lot on the department. My philosophy professors tended to do a better job at exposing their students to a wide range of disagreeing ideas than say the religion department, where some otherwise good professors were consistently left wing in what we were assigned to read.
I for one am not surprised that religion departments are liberal based on my undergraduate experience. Secular biblical studies for instance seems very liberal to me with the focus being on showing that the traditional views about the Bible are way off in areas like original authorship (did Paul write all the letters attributed to him?) and accuracy of the texts (did Jesus say what the Gospels record?). See the Jesus Seminar for a good example of this liberal/post modern dominance.
Update 3/29/05: Welcome Volokh Conspiracy readers!
Posted by Pete at March 29, 2005 03:45 PM
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Well, religious establishments (as opposed to religious movements) have tended throughout history to be pretty much conservative (small c), if not reactionary - meaning interested primarily in maintaining the status quo. And since these days liberal or left refers to those who stand for the status quo, it is unsurprising to find such folks there.
The general stereotype of such people as lacking imagination and thus much interest in any thought that deviates from received doctrine fits pretty well. Just spent three years at an Ivy League religious school, and I wouldn't be surprised if well over half of the faculty had never heard the word libertarian, and those who had seemed to think it some sort of nefarious plot.
Don't get me wrong - decent folks on the whole - just not terrifically engaged with much of the intellectual spectrum.
Posted by: Ged of Earthsea at March 29, 2005 06:24 PM