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Posts Tagged ‘academia’

Now, affirmative action based on political ideology!

The University of Colorado is considering a $9 million program to bring high-profile political conservatives to teach on the left-leaning campus.

CU officials want to create an endowment for a Visiting Chair in Conservative Thought and Policy.

The program would bring a rotating cast of scholars, historians, politicians and media personalities to a town often ridiculed by the political right as “the People’s Republic of Boulder.”

The first scholar could be on campus next year for a one- or two-year stint, CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard said. University officials said they hope the fund would yield the $200,000-plus per year necessary to provide a stipend and a staff person.

“A good campus is always trying to find ways to add diversity of thought and scholarship,” Hilliard said.

I can’t think of anything more ridiculous or unhelpful, but then, affirmative action is almost always unhelpful. I only hope this does not give Arjun Singh any new ideas.

Hat tip to the Volokh Conspiracy, where I saw this story. Also Ilya Somin discusses here why affirmative action based on ideology is a bad idea. An excerpt:

However, whether or not the discrimination is the cause of the problem, affirmative action for conservative academics (or libertarian ones) is a poor solution. Among other things, it would require universities to define who counts as a “conservative” for affirmative action purpose, a task that they aren’t likely to do well. Affirmative action for conservatives would also give job candidates an incentive to engage in deception about their views in the hopes of gaining professional advancement. Moreover, conservative professors hired on an affirmative basis despite inferior qualifications would find it difficult to get their ideas taken seriously by colleagues and students. They might therefore be unable to make a meaningful contribution to academic debate – the very reason why we want to promote ideological diversity in hiring to begin with.

Indeed.

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Here is a link to an article by Christina Sommers in which she talks about gender politics, affirmative action in higher education and recent, extremely worrying developments. Read the whole article, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

(Link via The Volokh conspiracy)

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Libertarianism has an obvious moral appeal to those who value freedom (and I believe most of us do). However libertarian policies also often have huge political, economic and social advantages which while not obvious at first glance are nevertheless apparent to those who are have studied the matter in some depth. Thus, I have often wondered why so many academics tend to be left-wing (and not libertarian).

Ilya Somin, in a fine post on Volokh, argues that most academics, while usually very knowledgable and intelligent in their field of expertise, do not possess a corresponding degree of high political knowledge. Indeed, as Somin has discussed in a series of earlier posts, academia is for various reasons a highly unrepresentative sample of well-informed voters.

Moreover this lack of knowledge is not the only negative effect of rational political ignorance. There is also what Bryan Caplan calls rational irrationality, whereby “citizens tend to discount information that goes against their preexisting views”. Somin believes that this phenomenon may afflict academics to a greater extent than the general population; for academics – even those who are not that well-informed on political and socio-economic matters – are usually more emotionally committed to their views than the common man.

Somin also notes the work of political scientist Scott Althaus, who demonstrated that, controlling for other demographic variables, increased knowledge does tend to make people more libertarian.

Click here for the entire post.

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