This is to ask a question.
Much has been made recently about Koch Foundation grants to universities that aim to support free-market scholarship and teaching. In an earlier post on Brainstorm, Todd Gitlin referred to it as “extracurricular intervention in the world of higher learning.”
Cary Nelson stated in response to a Koch grant to Florida State University,
“While the amount of money at stake pales by comparison with other recent corporate grants, the FSU agreement both reinforces and adds disturbing new elements to the growing corporate influence over academic research. Academic freedom and shared governance are both threatened by these trends.”
We needn’t examine the truth or falsity of those statements here. Instead, the question is: Does this fellowship program from the Ford Foundation constitute ideological meddling in academic affairs? The general description program begins:
“Through its Fellowship Programs, the Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.”
The ambitions of the program are far-reaching. It has the frank purpose of influencing hiring in universities (one of the charges leveled against Koch), and it does so on group-identity grounds. It also tries to influence educational practice in higher education, including teaching methods (“use diversity as a resource …”). If you do not use diversity in your classroom, you need not apply.
Finally, it is ideological. “Diversity” is, in principle and in practice, an ideology. To fund it is to spread that ideology.
Should this program undergo the same critical scrutiny as Koch’s?