Political homogeneity “biases research and teaching and reduces academic credibility,” according to Mitchell Langbert, associate professor of business management at Brooklyn College.
If that’s the case, a troubling number of elite liberal arts schools are paying for shoddy and low-quality research and marginalizing themselves in the eyes of the public.
Langbert’s new study on political homogeneity in these institutions – 51 of the top-ranked 66 according to U.S. News & World Report last year – finds a “mean” ratio of about 10 to 1 Democratic-to-Republican registration among faculty. That figure would be closer to 13 to 1 if he had excluded two military colleges, West Point and Annapolis, that U.S. News classifies as “liberal arts.”
In fact, 39 percent of the colleges he considered have zero Republicans, according to the study, which was published by the National Association of Scholars.
The professor only counts full-time tenure-track professors with Ph.D.s, for a sample size of just under 8,700. The sample is limited to those colleges in 12 states “that host at least one of the top sixty-six colleges and that make voter registration information public.”
Prominent exceptions to these lopsided ratios include the military colleges (1.3:1 and 2.3:1), Thomas Aquinas College (all Republicans), Claremont McKenna, St. John’s and Kenyon, according to Langbert. He cites research that the “publish or perish imperative” contributes to “left-oriented groupthink,” and speculates that Thomas Aquinas and St. John’s have partly avoided lopsided ratios because they emphasize “interdisciplinary teaching.”
Ratios vary from 1.6 to 1 D-to-R in engineering – with STEM fields, economics and political science all under 10-to-1 – to the high teens (psychology, history, philosophy) and low 20s (biology, language). Music, art, sociology and English range from low 30s to high 40s.
Religion has a whopping 70-to-1 ratio, and anthropology and communications have zero registered Republicans:
The highest D:R ratio of all is for the most ideological field: interdisciplinary studies. I could not find a single Republican with an exclusive appointment to fields like gender studies, Africana studies, and peace studies.
Since the 1960s, a few liberal arts colleges have not conformed to the homogenizing trend, and these demonstrate that institutional characteristics, at a minimum, contribute to faculty political affiliation in liberal arts colleges. …
[I]f political homogeneity is embedded in college culture, attempting to reform colleges by changing their cultures seems a very tall order. The solution to viewpoint homogeneity may lie in establishing new colleges from the ground up, rather than in reforming existing ones.
There’s much more in his study, which spanned most of last year, so read the full report.