Today, the Chronicle reports ($) on a new book, Closed Minds? Politics and Ideology in American Universities, and a new article, “I Think My Professor Is a Democrat: Considering Whether Students Recognize and React to Faculty Politics,” that look at political expression and influence on campus. The article, BTW, is written by April Kelly-Woessner and Matthew Woessner at Elizabethtown College and Penn State-Harrisburg, in my co-writer Tom Grosh’s neck of the woods.
Here’s the Chronicle’s quick take-away from Closed Minds:
The overwhelming majority of professors do call themselves liberal, the authors say, but that doesn’t mean their classrooms are dominated by their political views. The survey found that 95 percent of professors believe they are “honest brokers” among competing views. Sixty-one percent said politics seldom comes up in their classrooms, and only 28 percent said they let students know how they feel about political issues in general.
“To our surprise, we found that, far from being saturated in politics, the universities generally have all but ignored what used to be called civics and civic education,” the authors write. [emphasis added]
The article, meanwhile, found “that students agree that most professors do not specifically state what political party they belong to.” It also finds that students tend to drift toward the Democratic Party while in college, but doesn’t find the drift correlated to professors’ political influence, because the drift seems to happen regardless of which party one’s professors belongs to.
Do you agree that universities are ignoring civic education? And is that a bad thing, or a good thing?