Friday, 10 September 2004

Bias in academe

Steven Teles and Philip Klinkner have an interesting debate that’s worth a read on the proper role for ideology in the classroom: parts 1, 2, and 3 (so far). I tend to agree with Teles that the wrong approach is to follow the David Horowitz-style “anti-discrimination paradigm,” although I suspect Horowitz has adopted it not to truly encourage its use on matters of political and ideological diversity but to shame academics into abandoning its use on matters of racial and gender diversity.

On the other hand—and I probably shouldn’t mention this, but what the hell, I’m not applying for a job there again this year—I’ve seen firsthand, on an interview, the sort of blatant ideological group-think that libertarians and conservatives would view as an intolerable workplace environment, and I strongly suspect that I was not offered their position because they found out—through other channels, not the interview process—that I wasn’t “one of them”—or, it could be because I mentioned the word “research” more than once during my stay. I’m not particularly annoyed, since I’d already decided not to accept their offer even if they made me one. (Free hint: if multiple faculty members spend a good deal of their time with you mentioning their involvement in the Unitarian Universalist Church, that might be a sign to run for the hills.) Granted, this sort of thing seems to be more common at places where the professors harbor a deep-seated resentment against the podunk communities they’ve been exiled to, but it happens nonetheless.