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eBook Closed Minds?: Politics and Ideology in American Universities download

by Jeremy D. Mayer,Bruce L.R. Smith

eBook Closed Minds?: Politics and Ideology in American Universities download ISBN: 0815780281
Author: Jeremy D. Mayer,Bruce L.R. Smith
Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (August 11, 2008)
Language: English
Pages: 278
ePub: 1712 kb
Fb2: 1409 kb
Rating: 4.3
Other formats: doc lit docx doc
Category: Political
Subcategory: Politics and Government

They have come up with conclusions that probably surprised them —and will certainly surprise others. Alan Brinkley, Columbia University.

They have come up with conclusions that probably surprised them —and will certainly surprise others. This thoughtful study will not generate universal agreement but it warrants the attention of anyone who cares about the future of American universities. Our universities create our future leaders so the kind of environment they provide is a central subject and one ably explored in this important book. Lawrence H. Summers,.

So conclude Bruce L. R. Smith, Jeremy Mayer, and Lee Fritschler in this illuminating book.

Contrary to popular belief, the problem with .  . So conclude Bruce L. C losed Minds? d draws on data from interviews, focus groups, Contrary to popular belief, the problem with . higher education is not too much politics but too little. Far from being bastions of liberal bias, American universities have largely withdrawn from the world of politics.

Far from being bastions of liberal bias, American universities have largely withdrawn from the world of politics. ISBN 13: 9780815701866.

This book, with a title that parodies the late Allan Bloom’s 1987 bestseller The Closing of the American Mind . But the authors, all currently affiliated with the George Mason University School of Public Policy, reach the opposite conclusion in Closed Minds?

This book, with a title that parodies the late Allan Bloom’s 1987 bestseller The Closing of the American Mind, purports to offer a definitive verdict on the long-running and frequently heated academic debate over the extent to which an ascendant left-liberal campus ideology adversely influences classroom instruction, faculty hiring, and student attitudes. But the authors, all currently affiliated with the George Mason University School of Public Policy, reach the opposite conclusion in Closed Minds?

newSpecify the genre of the book on their own. Author: A. Lee Fritschler, Jeremy D. Mayer Bruce .

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So conclude Bruce L. Yet this ideological peace on campus has been purchased at a high price. American universities are rarely hospitable to lively discussions of issues of public importance. C losed Minds? d draws on data from interviews, focus groups, and a new national survey by the authors, as well as their decades of experience in higher education to paint the most comprehensive picture to date of campus political attitudes. They largely shun serious political debate, all but ignore what used to be called civics, and take little interest in educating students to be effective citizens.

Politics and Ideology in American Universities. by A. Mayer, Bruce . Contrary to popular belief, the problem with . Closed Minds? ddraws on data from interviews, focus groups, and a new national survey by the authors, as well as their decades of experience in higher education to paint the most comprehensive picture to date of campus political attitudes.

Bruce Smith, Jeremy Mayer and A. Lee Fritschler examine and refute this thesis. The professors were queried on three aspects of university life: the classroom; general campus climate; and the hiring and promotion of faculty

Contrary to popular belief, the problem with U.S. higher education is not too much politics but too little. Far from being bastions of liberal bias, American universities have largely withdrawn from the world of politics. So conclude Bruce L. R. Smith, Jeremy Mayer, and Lee Fritschler in this illuminating book. C losed Minds? d draws on data from interviews, focus groups, and a new national survey by the authors, as well as their decades of experience in higher education to paint the most comprehensive picture to date of campus political attitudes. It finds that while liberals outnumber conservatives within faculty ranks, even most conservatives believe that ideology has little impact on hiring and promotion. Today's students are somewhat more conservative than their professors, but few complain of political bias in the classroom. Similarly, a Pennsylvania legislative inquiry, which the authors explore as a case study of conservative activism in higher education, found that political bias was "rare" in the state's public colleges and universities. Yet this ideological peace on campus has been purchased at a high price. American universities are rarely hospitable to lively discussions of issues of public importance. They largely shun serious political debate, all but ignore what used to be called civics, and take little interest in educating students to be effective citizens. Smith, Mayer, and Fritschler contrast the current climate of disengagement with the original civic mission of American colleges and universities. In concluding, they suggest how universities can reclaim and strengthen their place in the nation's political and civic life.

Comments: (2)
Fato
Our universities train most of the leaders in American society and an important fraction of the nation's citizens. They serve as repositories of knowledge and centers of research in every area of human society. So the points the authors make are surely critical. They conclude that although academics lean toward politically liberal positions they don't approve of mixing politics with educational curricula. In fact they should get more involved in the politics.
.
Their conclusion gets a sceptical response from a South African reviewer, the only one to date. He thinks academics will give self-serving answers to poll questions. A new book edited by Neil Gross and Solon Simmons: Professors and their Politics (2014) supports Smith et al with an ingenious test. They sent out 75 email inquiries to directors of 75 leading departments of political science, sociology, economics, etc. purporting to be undergraduates asking if they were good matches for the graduate programs. In their messages they planted political clues about their orientations, e.g. that they worked in the Obama or McCain campaigns, etc. There was no statistical bias in institutional responses based on the indicated political orientations.

Organizations like the Leadership Institute (conservative) or American Family Journal (Christian) offer uncomfortable examples of bias against conservatives and Christian groups on campus. The above authors would probably acknowledge that bias exists but those egregious examples are exceptions.

My experience as a former federal earth scientist, transplanted to policy research, supports Smith et al's contention about academics general avoidance of political advocacy, whatever their personal views. In national conferences of political scientists like the Midwest Political Science Association there is clearly an antipathy to advocacy in political science presentations, whatever the perspective. If anything, social scientists in general (including economists) are partial to the "empirical method", which seeks to prove or disprove given hypotheses using statistical measures. Their analyses tend to exclude poorly quantifiable factors - even where they might have overriding importance in outcomes.

I know the authors in question. Their intention goes well beyond narrow professional associations and represents a credible challenge to widespread assumptions about American academic faculty. Their book is well written and avoids jargon and arcane theory.

However, if there is a weakness in both books it is that they give almost no attention to what I suggest are real weaknesses in contemporary American social science research. The first is the fact that hat empirical studies that represent mainstream methodology involve mainly discrete hypotheses or quantifiable aspects of issues - leaving out historical and broader societal contexts. And so they have little relevance to either the literate general public or decisionmakers. The second is a corollary: the still dominant tendency among social scientists to direct their research and publications toward peer academics in disciplinary media. It has been stated that 95% of political science publications do this - i.e. their work is largely isolated from the society they study. Changes are taking place but much too slowly.
Cozius
The accusation that American universities are intolerant bastions of left-wing bias and indoctrination has been supported by a considerable amount of evidence and has provoked a great deal of controversy. In this book, Smith, Mayer, and Fritschler attempt to disprove it. They concede that they found that many times more professors are Democrats than Republicans. However, they claim to have found that this imbalance has no effect on teaching or faculty hiring. They may be correct; but in order to prove their point, they are going to have to adduce more convincing evidence than the evidence in this book. Their conclusions are based mostly on questionnaires given to a national sample of professors, in which they were asked whether they saw bias in their own classrooms or in those of colleagues; whether they believed that lack of ideological diversity was a significant problem on their campuses; and whether they believed that conservative job applicants were victims of discrimination.
Of course, the professors denied these accusations. How many people, if given a chance to exonerate themselves and their profession from a serious accusation merely by saying that it is not true, would use that chance to confess that they are guilty? They would not confess their guilt even if they were aware of the bias with which they are accused. However, the main accusation is that left-wing bias is so pervasive at universities that most academics and students are not aware of it; just as fish are proverbially not aware of being in water.
Moreover, Smith, Mayer, and Fritschler did not see that even the data that they reported undermines their conclusion. In response to the question about whether preference was given to liberal job applicants at their institutions, 36 percent of those who identified themselves as "strongly conservative" answered that liberals received "strong preference," and 24 percent said that liberals received at least "weak preference." So, sixty percent of strongly conservative professors think that ideology affects hiring. This does not prove that such bias exists, but it does throw into perspective the denials of such bias by the liberal majority. There is no reason to assume that the responses of conservative professors are less accurate than those of their liberal colleagues.