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Higher Education Watch
Which Colleges Are Actually Diverse?

“Diversity” is in many ways the organizing principle of elite American higher education. Colleges tout their commitment to diversity in promotional materials and saturate their campuses with diversity centers. U.S. News publishes an annual ranking of colleges by their level of diversity. Of course, in all these instances, diversity refers to racial and ethnic diversity—not diversity of viewpoint. You won’t find political diversity statistics in any college brochures or popular rankings.

But that may be about to change: Heterodox Academy, a new, reform-minded organization we’ve written about before, is in the process of creating a “systematic assessment of viewpoint diversity at America’s most prestigious colleges and universities.” Jon Shields, a contributor to the site and professor of government at Claremont McKenna, just came out with a post highlighting some preliminary findings:

When Joshua Dunn and I began searching for conservative professors to interview for our new book, Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University, we assumed that nearly all elite universities and colleges were equally monolithic, more or less. That was not such an unreasonable assumption, given that only 4 percent of all humanities professors and 5 percent of all social scientists self identify as conservative. But after locating more than 200 self identified libertarian and conservative professors in six disciplines in the social sciences and humanities (economics, political science, sociology, history, philosophy, and literature), we discovered that they are not evenly sprinkled across elite colleges and universities. In fact, many prestigious universities have no libertarians or conservatives at all. But, happily, a few excellent schools, though still dominated by progressive academics, employ at least some right-of-center professors across a range of departments in the social sciences and humanities.

Where are these special places? They tend to be located in the South or in Catholic colleges. Among top public universities, the University of Virginia, Texas A&M, and the University of Texas are unusually diverse… Emory University is among the most diverse elite private institutions.

Click through to Shields’ original post to read which other schools are high on the list. Racial diversity is important, but so is viewpoint diversity. It’s hard to see how a student could get a well-rounded education in fields related to politics, history, and international affairs from an ideologically homogenous faculty. At a time when campuses are cementing their reputations as some of the most ideologically monolithic institutions in the country, prospective students and parents should be very interested in the kind of data Heterodox Academy is producing.

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