Liberal Bias in Education: Campus, Classroom & College

Imagine that it is your first year of college. You’re eager to learn, enthusiastic about your new friends, and devoted to your new professor. Everything is moving along beautifully, until one day your beloved professor begins to lecture on a hot button political topic. Much to your horror, you discover that he is taking a position that is very much opposed to your personal beliefs. Furthermore, he is generally labeling everyone who holds your belief as an idiot. To make matters worse, everyone else in the classroom is laughing and seems to be in total agreement with the professor. Do you:

a) Stand up for your beliefs hoping that your professor will be open and accepting of your view?

b) Stand up for your beliefs and risk ostracism for the rest of your college career? or

c) Shut your mouth and gradually become numb to the differences between your beliefs and the professor’s opinions?

Regardless of the choice you make - and whether you realize it or not - you have just been inducted into a key phase of college experience: bias in academia.

According to many studies, bias in academia more often than not is liberal bias. Many professors and students admit to possessing liberal ideologies or Democratic voting tendencies. It is natural and right for liberal students and professors to freely express their liberal philosophies, but is it right for liberal professors to continually advance their ideas in the classroom while squelching all other opinions? No.

As many of the pieces in this section suggest, universities are the breeding grounds for a variety of ideas and thought processes. Students who attend American colleges and universities should be able to gain a well-rounded view of their country, its founding principles, and the ideas – from all points on the political spectrum – that continue to shape and mold its future. Unfortunately, today’s colleges have drifted away from these ideals and become bastions of liberal thought and activism. This section presents the facts and details of this issue, and proposes several ways in which colleges can begin to once again offer more choice in the “marketplace of ideas.”

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Although Robert Maranto feels he is a moderate in his political views, his experiences with liberal academia have led him to believe he is on the far right of the political spectrum. This article describes the experiences of Maranto and other conservative academics like him, and suggests that the current university situation leans strongly toward a liberal agenda....

This article discusses the many studies purporting a liberal bias in academia and specifically addresses the AFT study which seeks to refute this notion. Robinson declares that the AFT study spends an overt amount of time nit-picking the studies that acknowledge the presence of liberal bias in academia. Interestingly enough, the AFT survey apparently offers the...

This article describes the "Academic Bill of Rights" and the issues it raises concerning the lack of free and diverse debate on college campuses. Oswald explains that the ABR has caused a handful of states to consider legislation which enables the expression of more conservative ideals; however, ABR supporters would rather procure change through the universities...

In a response to an accusation that conservative think tanks like Cato are biased, Andrew Coulson points out the fact that there are many other academic institutions that often reflect an extremely liberal bias. Coulson notes that the information produced by these liberal academic institutions is often accepted as fact without question, while the information...

As an advocate for academic freedom, Malcom Kline often addresses the evident liberal bias that exists on American college campuses. This article presents the other side of the coin and addresses the possibility of conservative bias in academia. According to Kline, the concept is practically non-existent; his attempts to follow up accusations of this sort have only...

In reporting on the emergence of a study claiming extreme liberal bias in academia, Cathy Young declares that the "lack of intellectual diversity endangers the very purpose of the academy." According to Young, liberals acknowledge that they are the prevalent force in academia, but attribute this fact to ideas such as their own superiority in intellectual open-...

Christina Sommers relays her speaking experiences at the University of New Mexico's law school in this article. Her observations clearly portray the shocking lack of ideological balance at America’s universities. Sommers lists several examples of liberal bias that conservative students endured at the UNM law school, and then compares it to the University of...

In Hassett’s eyes, the recent event of "Climategate" simply reveals the longstanding, but overwhelmingly unbalanced nature of academia. The author backs up this claim by citing several surveys, which find that some universities have more professors who hold to the principles of Marxism than to conservatism. Hassett gives several suggestions for reform in this area...

Patricia Cohen advances the idea that liberal universities are not necessarily influencing students to adopt liberal ideologies. Cohen bases this idea on several recent studies that, she infers, abolish the notion of extreme campus political influence. The author also notes that despite the results of these studies, conservatives still believe there is a great need...

Stanley Fish, dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago, declares that college professors should only advocate truth and solid academic values in their classrooms. According to Fish, political grandstanding is out of place and unprofessional in the university setting, and as such, should be contained to personal ventures outside of the workplace.

In this two-part post (part 2 is available here), Horwitz gives some tips of how ensure that college-bound liberty devotees get the best out of higher education. For instance, he suggests that while...

"Law schools hire more openly liberal professors than openly conservative ones, but the plum jobs at the most prestigious schools don't appear to be going solely to the liberals. That's the conclusion reached by researchers from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law who analyzed the ideology of recently hired law professors. Their study, 'Ideological...

"Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT...

This article reports on the HERI study entitled, "The American College Teacher: National Norms for 2001-2002." One of the major findings in this report confirms the liberal bias amongst college professors, and particularly notes that female professors tend toward liberalism more than men.

Writing from the position of a liberal professor, Jere Surber attempts to explain why so many college professors fall into the liberal ideological class. Surber lists three reasons for this common occurrence, and these three reasons suggest that professors are liberal because of their higher academic knowledge, their monetary association with the oppressed classes...

"The old arguments about why there are so few conservative college professors got a new twist recently. Neil Gross, professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia and Ethan Fosse, a doctoral student at Harvard, argued in a paper (available on Professor Gross' website) that the key reason why few conservatives go into the teaching profession is...

This piece discusses several reasons for the disconnect between liberals and the tea party movement. According to Berkowitz, the disconnect is due in part to the liberal agenda being pursued in America's colleges and...

Chart or Graph

"Figure 3 shows changes in support for four political or social issues."

"Figure 4 highlights changes in students' support for the position that the wealthy should pay more taxes."

"Figure 2 shows by generations the Democratic and Republican proportions in each discipline (limited to those who did not select one of the other parties)."

The above chart shows the personal views of college professors on certain ideological issues.

"In Table 2, we… examine how professors in different broad disciplinary groupings score on our political orientation question...."

"Figure 2 shows the change in political orientation for men and women from 2008 to 2012 in detail."

This particular chart shows the changing political values that students experience during college.

Analysis Report White Paper

This report offers a large sampling of course descriptions from prestigious campuses around the nation, and shows that many professors are using their classrooms as breeding grounds for liberal ideology, activism, and indoctrination.

This study seeks to discover whether or not student perceptions of a professor’s political views influence the evaluation ratings a professor receives.

In this article, Kors compares the academic world of his student days to now, observing a shift from intellectual pluralism and open-mindedness toward leftist bias, conformity and suppression of dissenting viewpoints.

Like many other researchers studying this issue, Tobin and Weinberg come to the conclusion that liberal ideologies amongst college faculty are far more prevalent than conservative ones. This finding causes the authors to express concern for the well-being of American universities.

Rothman, Lichter, and Nevitte produced this study in an attempt to discover if liberal bias among college faculty is as prevalent as is commonly assumed. Their results confirm that liberal ideologies are represented much more on college campuses than conservative ones are.

This report provides a detailed breakdown of college students and their views regarding political inferences in the classroom. As with other studies of its kind, this report demonstrates that there are a higher percentage of liberal students and liberal ideologies on university campuses.

This report seeks to demonstrate the different types of political viewpoints present in academics. Klein and Stern discovered that academics vote along Democratic Party lines much more than Republicans, and that the rise of academic liberals began to occur in the 1970s.

The ACTA suggests that college leaders would be wise to institute "intellectual diversity," for without the free exchange of a variety of viewpoints and ideas, the intellectual world in America will soon become diminished and ineffectual.

Lee declares that some of the methodology used to conduct these studies sponsored by the AFT and other progressive organizations is flawed and needs to be reexamined in order to portray a more accurate assessment of the prevalent political viewpoints on campus.

The past year saw intensified discussion about almost everything connected with higher education, but especially the increasing cost of attending college and the worth of a college degree, graduation rates, what the impact of the massive open online course (MOOC) will be, and various takes on 'disruption.'

Among other things, this report find that "Being a college professor alters one’s worldview on propositions involving education, economics, religion, and America."

Due to the growing amount of what they believe are improperly conducted studies showing the liberal bias of college professors, Gross and Simmons set out to conduct their own research in this area. Interestingly enough, their findings cause them to concur with many of the former studies on this issue.

An especially interesting facet of this report is the revelation that college graduates are increasingly more liberal than college freshmen in their views on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, gun control, and government healthcare.

A socialization perspective is used to examine the processes through which undergraduate student political attitudes are influenced by peers, faculty, and social trends.

This report summarizes the highlights of a national survey of college and university faculty conducted by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at the Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) in the 2010–2011 academic year.

Video/Podcast/Media

Higgs discusses the progressive bias most academic historians hold, and their consequent interpretations of the role of the state and the American quest for liberty.

"Ms. MacDonald and Ms. Satel discussed their recent books about the real-world consequences of what they term bad ideas. Ms. MacDonald is the author of The Burden of Bad Ideas: How Modern Intellectuals Misshape Our Society, published by Ivan R. Dee. In her book and talk, she criticizes so-called cultural elites for advocating ideas that undermine the importance of...

In this debate, Kors argues that universities should be defending liberty but have become the enemies of a free and decent society. "Where speech should be freest, it is in fact the most restricted" on our nation's campuses, he says, describing university speech codes and the double standards with...

"Speeches include 'British Higher Education under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher,' 'The State of Higher Education & How to Reform It,' 'Founding New Institutions of Higher Learning,' 'From Public Policy to Public Philosophy - Do Ideas Still have Consequences?'"

This clip from the documentary "Indoctrinate U" portrays the history of how American campuses became the breeding ground and bastion of liberal ideologies. Evan Maloney also addresses the prevalence of affirmative action ideology and some campuses' mission to apply the ideas of race, class, and gender to every college class.

This video clip from "Indoctrinate U" describes how a conservative student was harassed and sued for promoting conservative ideas on campus. It addresses the issue of how college campuses demand diversity, but then silence any opinion that promotes diversity other than those accepted by liberals.

Primary Document

This document advocates for freedom of speech in American universities, but it also acknowledges that professors must take care to avoid spreading their own political propaganda to impressionable students. According to this document, "The university teacher, in giving instruction upon controversial matters, while he is under no obligation to hide his own opinion...

The Academic Bill of Rights seeks to promote the basic rights of students and faculty to operate in a climate that encourages free speech and a diversity of ideas. It strongly opposes those who use the university setting to stifle debate and individuals with ideas contrary to the norm. According to the...

In the 2005-2006 legislative session, the above piece of legislation was proposed to give students and faculty an atmosphere that offered a variety of balanced political opinions and beliefs. The document addresses such things as distribution of student fees, speech codes, and faculty tenure procedures.

This piece of proposed legislation seeks to protect students and faculty members from other students and professors who seek to belittle minority religious or political viewpoints. This bill provides for the fair distribution of student fees, seeks to encourage professors to give equal time to a wide variety of intellectual ideas, and condemns the dismissal of...

In his testimony before the Kansas State Legislature, David Horowitz describes the liberal political agenda that is promoted in state universities around the country. Horowitz declares that these biased political agendas are perfectly fair and right as opinions; however, these ideas turn into a problem when they are taught as fact. Horowitz reasons that liberal...

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