Category Archives: Academic freedom

July 16, 2007, 6:06 am

Impressions of “The Shadow University”

Last night I finished reading The Shadow University by Alan Kors and Harvey Silverglate. This was a book that I wasn’t necessarily looking forward to at first — it clocks in at 400 pages of microscopic font with a high frequency of legalese — but in the end, it will probably rank as one of the most influential books I’ve read.

The book’s influence can already be seen here at CO9s in some of the recent posts (here and here for starters) about academic bias and free speech, as well as the new categories on Academic Freedom and Free Speech. And I’ll probably have more to say about the book and these related areas as well in the future. But for now, here are some lessons I pulled from the book.

1. I come away from The Shadow University with a deep appreciation for the US Constitution and the ingenious, and hard-edged, ways in which freedom is guaranteed to US citizens. The genius of the …

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July 13, 2007, 12:15 pm

Overpowering majority of free-market apologists? Not so much.

Lawrence White, professor at Missouri-St. Louis and blogger at Division of Labour, has some more to say about the supposed bias against free-market critics in economics:

So what is Cohen’s anecdotal evidence that criticism of the free market renders one an “apostate” (Blinder’s term)? (1) Alan Blinder is sore about the criticism he has received over his claim that outsourcing and trade may result in a loss of 30 to 40 million American jobs. (2) David Card is sore about the criticism he has received (and pointed questions his students have gotten on the job market) over his much-debated finding (with Alan Kreuger) that a hike in the minimum wage didn’t cost jobs in the New Jersey fast-food industry (described fawningly by Cohen as “groundbreaking research on the effect of the minimum wage”). Sorry, soreheads, but that’s no evidence that free-market ideology rules the roost…

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July 13, 2007, 6:03 am

Bias and thought policing on all sides

You might come away from yesterday’s postings (here and here) thinking that real bias in academia only occurs from Left to Right. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sadly, the impulse to censor and police the thoughts of professors and students is equal-opportunity.

Consider this appalling case at Ashland University reported at The FIRE in which John Lewis, a historian specializing in Ayn Rand’s objectivist philosophy, was hired as a professor at Ashland and promptly received a $100,000 grant from the Anthem Foundation for Objectivist Scholarship for teaching and writing on objectivism. After gladly accepting the money, affirming its support for Lewis’ research, and giving him six hours’ release time per semester in which to do it, the university then denied Lewis tenure because, as stated in the tenure denial letter:

…concern was expressed at all levels of the process about…

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July 12, 2007, 9:24 am

Higher ed and the general public

A new Zogby poll indicates that academia has a serious problem with its public image:

As legislation is introduced in more than a dozen states across the country to counter political pressure and proselytizing on students in college classrooms, a majority of Americans believe the political bias of college professors is a serious problem, a new Zogby Interactive poll shows.

Nearly six in 10 – 58% – said they see it as a serious problem, with 39% saying it was a “very serious” problem.

Also:

The survey also showed that an overwhelming majority also believe that job security for college professors leaves them less motivated to do a good job than those professors who do not enjoy a tenured status – 65% said they believe non-tenured professors are more motivated to do a good job in the classroom.

And if that weren’t enough:

Asked whether they think the quality of a college education today is …

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July 12, 2007, 7:22 am

More “bias” in academia

The New York Times raises the clarion call against bias in academia — that is, the bias against liberal economists by conservatives.

According to [...] estimates, 5 to 10 percent of America’s 15,000 economists are heterodox, which includes an array of professors on the right and the left (post-Keynesians, Marxists, feminists and social economists).

Heterodox economists complain that they are almost completely shut out by their more influential neoclassical colleagues who dominate most American university departments and prestigious peer-reviewed journals that are essential to gaining tenure. There are a few university departments where these iconoclasts are welcome, like Amherst in Massachusetts, the New School in New York and Professor Lee’s home, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, but these are exceptions.

The article goes on to quote such “heterodox” critics as a professor …

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July 3, 2007, 6:11 am

A reminder for prospective RA’s

Don’t make absurd videos in which you kidnap rubber ducks. Five RA’s at Long Island University tried this and found themselves on the wrong side of the administration’s idea of racial sensitivity:

The five RAs created a satirical short film this past February in which they dressed as Islamist extremists and took a rubber duck “hostage.” Dressed in black and armed with a Swiss Army knife, the RAs read a list of “demands” that included a request for an iPod.

The finished two-minute clip was uploaded to YouTube and that’s when the trouble started, because LIU administrators didn’t think the video was funny. In fact, they deemed it “racially insensitive” and promptly fired the RAs, resulting in the loss of tuition assistance and meal-plan benefits.

Whole thing here. The students promptly sued the university in February, and now LIU has settled out of court, realizing that…

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