Monday, October 08, 2007

The moderate faculty

The Liberal (and Moderating) Professoriate

Faculty members identify as liberals and vote Democratic in far greater
proportions than found in the American public at large. That finding by
itself won't shock many, but the national study released Saturday at a
Harvard University symposium may be notable both for its methodology and
other, more surprising findings.

The 72-page study - "The Social and Political Views of American
Professors" - was produced with the goal of moving analysis of the
political views of faculty members out of the culture wars and back to
social science. The study offers at times harsh criticism of many of the
analyses of these issues in recent years (both from those hoping to tag
the professoriate as foolishly radical and those seeking to rebut those
charges). The study included community college professors along with
four-year institutions, and featured analysis of non-responders to the
survey (two features missing from many recent reports).

The results of the study find a professoriate that may be less liberal
than is widely assumed, even if conservatives are correctly assumed to
be in a distinct minority. The authors present evidence that there are
more faculty members who identify as moderates than as liberals. The
authors of the study also found evidence of a significant decline by age
group in faculty radicalism, with younger faculty members less likely
than their older counterparts to identify as radical or activist. And
while the study found that faculty members generally hold what are
thought to be liberal positions on social issues, professors are divided
on affirmative action in college admissions.


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