Over at Professor Mondo's blog, the subject of Dr. Ted Gup's piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education on liberal bias and intellectual diversity in the academy was given some play. In this article, Dr. Gup, a self-identified left-leaning academic, laments the lack of ideological diversity within the academy and calls for ways to create a more comfortable environment for conservative students at college/university. Of course, I've discussed this before, but I left a comment on this blog that I think is worth repeating here. I wrote:
I’ve engaged this topic here before, but I’ll only say the following now: yes, it is true the academics in the academy lean left; but it is also true that more and more conservative high school students, and their parents, are bringing a hardened and defensive spirit into college that makes any realization of Dr. Gup’s recommendations nigh to impossible. What does it mean when a conservative student, already expecting to be uncomfortable and subject to attack simply because of holding a different belief system, is (1) either unable to articulate a reasoned defense of a position or (2) is confronted with a fellow classmate who respectfully refuses to buy into his arguments and doesn’t back down in defending a differing position, but who automatically interprets the frustration of either outcome as de facto evidence of liberal bias and ideological persecution? Just because a student spouts off a conservative or liberal position doesn’t mean that challenging that position is evidence of hostility to the ideological basis of that position — but more and more conservative students are reading into the critical thinking process evidence of ideological bias. Challenging students to think critically can be uncomfortable, regardless of political ideology. I’ve called out many liberal students for making uncritical ideological claims and challenged such students to articulate a reasoned defense of their claims, and these students never respond by thinking I’ve attacked their core belief systems; but if I do the same to a conservative student, the reaction I get more and more from them is less an openness towards developing a critical capacity regarding defending their claims and more a confirmation of Horowitz’s own brainwashing crusade that they are being persecuted because they are conservative. I’ve said before that my own experience leads me to believe that though the academics in the academy are disproportionately left-leaning, that does not necessarily translate into a left-leaning propagandistic pedagogy. If it were truly as conservatives believe it is, then a much greater percentage of college-educated students would be liberal mind-bots upon graduation. Do conservative academics really think that they are the only members of the profession who can teach a course without proselytizing their political ideology and without respecting the different ideological inclinations of their students? If they don’t hold this view, that I would ask conservative academics to give their liberal colleagues the same courtesy and benefit of the doubt that they themselves would want.And I'll leave it at that.