Conservatives in Higher Ed

This article in the Chronicle of Higher Education makes an argument for intellectual diversity on campus: group think and tunnel vision rob the left of its ability to impact the mainstream and to argue with anyone. It is an interesting argument. However, in the next to the last paragraph he states that there are no “professional reasons” for allowing conservatives to enter the academy. A professional reason for doing so would be to balance out the academy. If higher education is indeed a closed circle of liberals, as the article and many studies have shown, then it is not teaching critical thinking. I have always considered that to be one of the goals of college level education.

I have taught at four colleges (three universities and one community college). Of those two were conservative bastions, not liberal, and two were much more balanced, though still leaning left. The two conservative schools were conservative because of the populations they served: evangelical Christians and a whole neighborhood/area of Republicans.

BTW, I teach at a mostly conservative school now. (That means the students are but the faculty aren’t.) But when I assign controversial topics for research papers (all freshmen classes in English), I require that my students write first the paper for the side which they disagree with. This makes sure that they know what the other side’s arguments are and that they can identify the other side’s best arguments. As a teacher, I want you to be able to argue well. If you can argue for the side you don’t agree with, you’re doing well.

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