Donate Today! Help us help others.

Lynch Coaching


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Why are faculty members liberal?

Faculty members come in every shape and size, political belief and personality. While there are indications that the majority of faculty have liberal leanings, there is also a pendulum of change that from time to time, or institution to institution, make this the exception and not the rule. However, there is ample research that those who enter education at the college level, do tend to be liberal by nature.

I have often been challenged by conservative students as to why my examples are so "liberal". To begin with I consider myself a moderate, swinging the spectrum depending on the issue. For example, I am pro-life but willing to give the woman the final choice (It is not ours to judge, but the Lord's, and we believe in a compassionate Lord). I am pro-health care and providing for the least of our brothers, which includes our responiblity as a people, meaning a government, to do so ("We the people" and "government of the people" have deeper meaning than elections). I tend to be pro-defense but was against our invasion of Iraq. In other words I am as complex and changing as the next guy. We all change over time, particurally if we read, reason, think and are open to change (part of the definition of liberal).

To begin with liberal ideas and concepts have been aligned with education from the beginning of the profession. When a mind is educated, it changes, and change, by nature, is liberal.

Click on "read more" below to continue.

My own feelings are that any profession that does not pay large dividends and allow for forty hour work weeks attracts those who believe in it, not those seeking the funds most conservatives seem to be motivated by. Members of the media enter the media out of avocation and passion. Teachers teach because they believe in what they do and in their responsibility to the next generation. Or at least they should. Both are liberal beliefs or motivations. An interests in being an agent of change, or service, are by nature liberal philosophies.

There are also studies that how the higher a persons education level, particurally a liberal arts education, the more likely they are to be  liberal in their beliefs and attitudes. The reason for this is that someone who reads, balances all views, and reasons it through find themselves more open to opposing viewpoints, more willing to explore new ideas and more open to change.

If your goal is spending time with family, collecting toys, living in large home, becoming a part of the statu quo, you are less likely to take the time to study, immerse yourself in and question the universe around you. You become, by nature, resistant to social change, or conservative.

So it is that this summary form the Chronicle of Higher Education, based on two studies and a New York Times article, caught my eye...

From on the Chronicle of Higher Eduction and the New York Times:

January 18, 2010, 11:48 AM ET

Faculties Are Liberal Because Conservatives Don't Seek Academic Careers, Study Finds

The oft-noted dominance of liberals on American faculties has spawned a host of research about the source and effect of the pattern, but according to an unpublished study described in today's New York Times, the past research has been focused on the symptoms, not the cause.

Rather than ask why most professors are liberals, the study finds a more fruitful line of inquiry is to ask why liberals seek to become academics, and conservatives do not.

The new research -- "Why Are Professors Liberal?," by Neil Gross, of the University of British Columbia, and Ethan Fosse, a doctoral student at Harvard, both sociologists -- says that faculty positions are "typecast" just like any other jobs that are also overwhelmingly held by one gender, such as nursing (women), or one political outlook, such as law enforcement (conservative).

"Occupational reputations affect people's career aspirations," said Mr. Gross.

The research, which echoes similar findings in a paper published two years ago by Matthew and Kellie Woessner, found that intentional discrimination against conservatives in hiring was an insignificant factor in the pattern; rather, conservatives were simply choosing not to enter the field.

Differences between Liberals and Conservatives make them self-sorting.

The following is a summary of the study referred to in the Chroncle story above. It report on studies by a husband-wife research team.

Matthew Woessner, an assistant professor of public policy at Pennsylvania State University. He is a conservative Republican.

April Kelly-Woessner, an associate professor of political science at nearby Elizabethtown College. She describes herself as a moderate Democrat.

"The idea that professors are liberal has been known since the 50s," says Solon J. Simmons, an assistant professor of conflict analysis and sociology at George Mason University, whose own recent study found that 90 percent of professors called themselves liberal or moderate. "But the Woessners actually have something new here. I think they are some of the first to do this kind of work."

The Woessners have peered into the psyche of conservative undergraduates to find out why so few of them want to earn Ph.D.'s and become professors. Their paper on the topic, "Left Pipeline: Why Conservatives Don't Get Doctorates," is available online and will be published as part of a book published by the American Enterprise Institute.

The Woessners found that liberal students have values and interests that point them to careers in academe, while most conservative students do not.

"The personal priorities of those on the left," the Woessners conclude, "are more compatible with pursuing a Ph.D."
Rush Limbaugh Junkie
Mr. Woessner is a lifelong Republican who has been a Rush Limbaugh junkie and watches Fox News. But he says the prospect of a career in academe never seemed foreign.

David Horowitz, the conservative activist, has staged a national campaign for colleges to hire more conservative professors, and he tells stories about right-wing students who have been turned off by hostile leftists in the classroom. He even proposed an "academic bill of rights," which encourages colleges to foster a variety of political beliefs and become more intellectually diverse.

But Mr. Woessner says he never confronted intolerance in the classroom. Even some of his most liberal professors went out of their way to solicit his views.

To find out how students reacted when professors expressed political views, the Woessners distributed questionnaires in 2004 to 1,385 undergraduates in political-science courses at 29 colleges and universities. They asked the students to indicate whether they thought their professors were conservative, moderate, or liberal. And they asked students about the quality of classroom teaching.

What they found was that students who believed their professors had the same politics they did rated a course more highly than students who didn't. The Woessners also found that students were less interested in a course when they believed their professors' political views clashed with their own.

They published their findings in a paper called "My Professor Is a Partisan Hack: How Perceptions of Professors' Political Views Affect Student Course Evaluations," in the July 2006 issue of the American Political Science Association's journal PS: Political Science & Politics.

They found that in a variety of ways, conservative students were less interested than liberals in subject matter that often leads to doctoral degrees, and less interested in doing the kinds of things that professors spend their time doing.

For example, liberal students reported valuing intellectual freedom, creativity, and the chance to write original work and make a theoretical contribution to science. They outnumbered conservative students two to one in the humanities and social sciences — which are among the fields most likely to produce interest in doctoral study.

Conservative students, however, put more value on personal achievement and orderliness, and on practical professions, like accounting and computer science, that could earn them lots of money.

The Woessners also found that conservative students put a higher priority than liberal ones on raising a family. That does not always fit well with a career in academe, where people often delay childbearing until after they earn tenure.

The research led the Woessners to conclude that if higher education wants to attract more conservatives to the professoriate, it should smooth the way financially, offering subsidized health insurance and housing for graduate students, and adopting family-friendly policies for professors.

But Mr. Simmons, the assistant professor at George Mason, says that if the Woessners are right, there may not be an easy solution to the political imbalance in academe. "If it's true that people are self-sorting," he says, "what is to be done?"


Linda B said...

''When a mind is educated, it changes, and change, by nature, is liberal.''<-- that makes so much sence. Thinking clearly politically (if there is such a thing) definitely inludes reasoning, listening to both sides and being open to change.
I found this really interesting, in a good way.
Linda Ndenga

Anonymous said...


COM 101

Anonymous said...

I feel the same way. The situation makes all the difference on which you would stand for in the end.

Chris Jackson

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree. Although we dont think our voices matter it does, and coming together to help one another and stand up for ourself and eachother is what needs to happen more, like this.

-Chynna Greene

Anonymous said...

Could faculty be more conservative then liberal? Most of my teachers are PC and Republicans.

luisa galdamez Com 4041 said...

I completely agree with this and even share a lot of the same beliefs. People tend to think that i just do not want to take a stand. But the reality is that people should try to convey their ideas but also respect the ones that do not agree with them.

Anonymous said...

That is why labels are so destructive. To define me as a liberal, a moderate or a conservative in no way explains what I believe and why.

Jill Pentkowski

Rachelle_Hopper said...

Its human nature to catagorize everything that is how we learn but it also hard to not offend. That is why we should all listen to each other with a open mind and listen to many different point of views befor we jump to conclusions.

Rachelle Hopper

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. Everyone needs to help out and support eachother! And if someone doesn't agree with another they need to disagree and share there input in a nice way.

-Sara Q bc6003

yoandra taboada said...

I really dont like to say whether im liberal or not it does start heated arugments sometimes ,but i am. I do have conlicting feelings at times i admit.I change my opinions based on new things i learn and know are fact. I think people should be more open to things, ideas. it doesnt hurt to listen.

Neptali Cabrera said...

Yes everyone changes whether its for better or for worse. Although I think that we all want whats best for the world ,students, children, etc.
Although each person has a different view point from somebody else and as we adapt to our environments or gain more knowledge our thoughts change but out overall goal is the same.
Neptali Cabrera Com 101

Jason S. said...

Reading through this I am yet to see an effective explanation for it. They "typecasting" has not held true in most the colleges I have attended. When it mentions those with higher education, it specifically says liberal arts; this makes me think of a Simpson's Paradox.

Anonymous said...

you can be conservative but still have an open mind to what the liberal side has to say.

teachers challenging our thought process helps us grow as individuals and critical thinkers.