Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

A more moderate professoriate?

This article (which I haven’t yet had a chance to read)--summarized here--argues for a drift toward the center in some academic disciplines, albeit not in the humanities.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Yea, let’s get out our microscopes!

Dan Klein’s comments in the InsideHigherEd article are right on. It doesn’t make much sense to ask how faculty identify themselves. Just as everyone in the U.S. tends to believe they are middle class, most tend to view themselves as moderates. Asking them where they stand on specific issues will yield far clearer results.

Second for John’s point. And lots of academics live in academic communities and have a circle of friends limited to academics. What’s a moderate in that world?

Another thing to keep in mind is the drift of the disciplines. If a prof is assigning reading that reflects what’s new and "important" in the field, you know what that would mean in history, sociology, English, etc.

Louie makes a good point about the constraints of particular disciplines. In political science, I think it is possible to provide balance and moderation. For one thing, we are supposed to encourage students to think poltically, and that requires real effort on the students’ parts. Instructors who think of teaching as indoctrination simply aren’t taken seriously by the students, who have learned discounting to get a grade. For what it’s worth, I tell undergraduates that if I succeed in the course, they will not be able to tell what my politics are, but that I will tell them on the last day if they ask.

And what exactly do you tell them, if they ask (on the last day)?

dain - The truth, of course.

Which is?

dain - This isn’t what the thread was about. . .but I tell them that I have been a Democrat all my life; that I come from a long line of progressive Republicans, who enthusiastically embraced Ike; that I am a democrat, a moderate, occasionally a ticket splitter, especially on foreign policy; on educational/pedagogical matters, a conservative of sorts. I hate everything that TV has done (though I will watch sports in a pub), but I love satellite radio; my wife and I belong to a fantasy football league (she’s the expert), and we love women’s college basketball. We are a politically mixed couple - and our mutts are therefore named Chester A. Arthur and Louis McHenry Howe. My complex religious views, such as they are, are none of your business. Let us pray that this is enough for you.

Well, I wasn’t asking for your bio, dude. And a simple "I prefer not to say" would have sufficed if you found the question irritating. I won’t bore you with why I was curious.

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