Friday September 08, 2017
The Politics of the Professoriat: Political diversity on campus
Universities are supposed to be dedicated to the exchange of ideas. But according to social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, campuses now skew so far to the left that they've become what he calls "political monocultures" in which voices that stray too far from liberal orthodoxy are shouted down. Paul Kennedy speaks with Professor Haidt – and with other scholars who have been thinking about the complex question of diversity on campus.
"We've created a hostile climate for people who don't fit in intellectually. We've marginalized them. We've made it clear they don't belong; they're not welcome. And then the really smart ones among them don't apply! And what we're left with is a politically homogeneous field of inquiry, which therefore has problems studying anything that is politically valenced." – Jonathan Haidt
Back in 2011, Jonathan Haidt was addressing a large gathering of professional psychologists about the perceived left-leaning bias of research in the social sciences. Before beginning his talk, he asked for a show of hands to determine the political composition of the crowd. There were about a thousand academics in the room. Fewer than ten people--perhaps only three or four--admitted to being Republican, or conservative. Maybe fifteen or twenty people claimed to be moderates. Approximately 80% of the crowd identified as supporters of the Democratic Party, or self-described liberals. The disparity has inspired much of his research ever since.
Guests in this episode:
- Igor Grossmann is director of the Wisdom and Research Lab, based at Waterloo University, in Ontario.
- Jonathan Haidt is Professor of Ethical Leadership in the Stern School of Business at New York University. He was named one of the "top global thinkers" by Foreign Policy magazine, and one of the "top world thinkers" by Prospect magazine.
- Heather Mac Donald, a lawyer by training, is a Thomas W. Smith fellow of the Manhattan Institute.
- The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom by Jonathan Haidt. Basic Books, 2006.
- The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt. Pantheon, 2012.
- The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society by Heather Mac Donald. Ivan R. Dee. 2000.
- Those 'Snowflakes' Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus by Heather Mac Donald (Wall Street Journal)
Web Extra | Watch Professor Haidt's TED Talk, "The moral roots of liberals and conservatives"
**This episode was produced by Dan Falk and Paul Kennedy.