Saturday, February 05, 2005

What Liberal Bias?

From earlier in the week, on the CHE's daily email update to subscribers, Academe Today:

MAGAZINES & JOURNALS

A glance at the January/February issue of "Academe": What liberal bias?

Elite colleges and their faculty members are often accused of swaying students to the political left, but the facts do not support that bit of conventional wisdom, says Lionel Lewis, an emeritus professor of sociology and an adjunct professor of higher education at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

"Liberal faculty, abetted by permissive or weak academic administrators, are said to indoctrinate impressionable students with an un-American ideology passed off as objective inquiry," he writes. "The more prestigious the school, the more clear this bias is thought to be."

However, many of the people responsible for developing "America's aggressive and confrontational foreign policy" were themselves students or professors at Ivy League institutions. Eleven of the 15 secretaries of defense since the Eisenhower administration received degrees from elite universities, he says, and most of the national-security advisers since World War II earned degrees or taught at such institutions.

"These are the architects of the muscular American foreign policy that resulted in the Cold War, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom," he writes. Even if Ivy League faculty members have a liberal slant, he says, it hardly matters in terms of what students take away from their college experiences.

"Research spanning six decades has shown that the effect of college on the attitudes, values, religiosity, and political views of students, on elite campuses and elsewhere, is almost nil," he writes. "In light of this research, it hardly makes a difference if the professoriate is mostly liberal or conservative, teaching Leo Tolstoy or Leon Trotsky."

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