Published On: Tue, Jan 12th, 2016

New survey: College professors more liberal but students, country are not

Some may debate if university faculty have truly shifted to the left, and if so, whether it matters. The debate has just flared up data published by the Heterodox Academy which indicates a strong liberal bias at universities and the subsequent attack by New York Times writer Paul Krugman.

“Conservatives are outraged at what they see as a sharp leftward movement in the academy… But what’s really happening here? Did professors move left, or did the meaning of conservatism in America change in a way that drove scholars away?”

photo donkeyhotey donkeyhotey@wordpress.com

photo donkeyhotey [email protected]

Krugman notes that the identities of the two political parties were changing in the 1990s, and by some metrics the Republican party moved further to the right than the Democratic party did to the left. He concludes: “Overall, the evidence looks a lot more consistent with a story that has academics rejecting a conservative party that has moved sharply right than it does with a story in which academics have moved left.”

The analysis agrees that changing nature of the parties could have caused some academics to simply change their political self-descriptions without actually changing their views on substantive matters before detailing The Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) at UCLA.

These HERI samples are huge, tens of thousands of professors, collected over a long period of time, asking respondents to describe themselves using a 5-point ideology scale that offers these options: “Far left,” “Liberal,” “Moderate,” “Conservative,” and “Far right.”

The results show a decline in moderates and a decrease in conservatives between 1995 and 2010. They contrasted this with population’s study over the 25 year period that the HERI data encompasses, the overall average shows that 38% of Americans are moderates, 35% are conservative, and 27% are liberal.


“The people who shape the minds of America’s students have long leaned left, on average. But students who entered college before 1990 could count on the fact that their professors did not all vote the same way or hold the same views on the controversial issues of the day. Students who arrived after 2005 could make no such assumption,” they write.


“This is what happens when viewpoint diversity disappears and orthodoxy reigns. When faculty in the social sciences can no longer have open discussions among themselves about political issues because dissent from the progressive stance is treated as treason, then what kind of political extremism and intolerance will we breed among our students? The answer, unfortunately, became clear in the demands that students issued on campus after campus last Fall, and in the cruelty and aggression some of them showed to anyone they deemed to be an opponent.”

Paul Krugman caricature cartoon

Paul Krugman Photo/donkeyhotey.wordpress.com


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- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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