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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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  • Jim__L

    “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.”

    Keep speaking the truth, it will sink in eventually.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    Awesome, this is desperately needed, I wonder why it took so long? Can we now get it for Mainstream Media outlets?

  • johngbarker

    What about people of faith. How well are they represented?

  • FriendlyGoat

    “They tend to be located in the South”. Is it a mere coincidence that the most significant portion of all conservatism is located in the South?

  • Jon Haidt

    Thanks so much for the great coverage of our site. Could you please put a clear link to the post into your post? Can you make this text be a link to Shield’s post: “just came out with a post”

  • Beauceron

    As someone who has a lot of college professors in his family, I can tell you that most academics would argue that the reason their are so few conservatives in academia is not that universities are biased, it’s because most smart, well-educated people are naturally to the Left of the political spectrum.

    I think it’s fairly self-evident now, given the madness of what we’ve been seeing on a lot of college campuses, that diversity of thought is not on the list of things important to university administrators.

    • lurkingwithintent

      I hope that you tell you family members that it is virtually impossible for a conservative to be considered for positions, let alone tenure. As someone who spent significant time in that atmosphere, this includes conservative women and those normally acceptable by left leaning, multicultural types. To equate left leaning with being smart ought to disqualify them from teaching anyone.

    • Boston_Patriot

      Aside from pointing out that their actions logically lead to the stifling of debate and the closing of minds in a sea of orthodoxy, and that they are an active participant in the perpetuation of irrationality, that’s when you argue your case. I have a couple relatives of relatives who are professors, and I don’t hold back on the rare occasion I see them. It helps that I’m a fairly well-versed Objectivist, so I have reason on my side.

      • Beauceron

        I don’t think they’re disturbed at all by mind sets that “logically lead to the stifling of debate and the closing of minds in a sea of orthodoxy.”
        They hate conservatives– and centrists for that matter. I think they’re delighted to keep them out– indeed I think they see it as a sort of sacred duty. I think that they, like all orthodox, believe they are wholly right and that anyone who disagrees with them only does so because they are too stupid, poorly read or bigoted NOT to agree with them. If they were as smart, well-read, and open-minded as they, well, then they’d hold the same opinions they do.

  • Dancquill

    Hmm “most academics would argue that the reason there are so few conservatives in academia is not that universities are biased, it’s because most smart, well-educated people are naturally to the Left of the political spectrum.” Yes, and anybody who disagrees with that sentiment is an ‘idiot and a reactionary as well as uneducated and biased’. I have been around a lot of leftists and liberals myself. Especially in a group.

    • Rick Caird

      But, but, isn’t there only one valid point of view??? /sarc

    • Beauceron

      You mean they’re “anti-intellectual.”
      That’s the one I hear when any criticism of the academy is offered up.

  • Here’s the link that’s missing from this post, the one to click through to get the post it’s tlaking about:

    • Jim__L

      Interestingly, it notes WRM’s employer Bard as being one of the most Liberal out there.

  • FrancisChalk

    “Diversity” to the Left is nothing but skin color.

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